“Plastic is one of the major contributors to pollution in the modern world, and we felt it was something that we needed to address. A large number of PPE suits were being produced on a daily basis especially at a time when COVID was at its peak,” shares Vanshika Bansal (19), President of Enactus, Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies (SSCBS). Hoping to tackle the issue of plastic waste, the Enactus team of SSCBS launched Project Basera in April 2020, through which they reuse scraps discarded by PPE manufacturers and create utility products such as mats and bags.
Project Basera—the name translates to lodging or shelter in English—has partnered with two homeless shelters in Rohini and Connaught Place. Along with promoting the Government of India’s ‘Make in India’ initiative by crafting in-house products, this Project also inculcates self-sufficiency and economic resilience in women residing in these shelters. Quoting research that the SSCBS Enactus team conducted before launching this Project, Bansal shares that around one in 10 people in Delhi are homeless. “The stories of the homeless shelters’ residents moved us a lot,” she adds.
Currently, there are about 10 women working as entrepreneurs under this Project. “We are trying to make our project sustainable. After teaching these women these skills, we connect them directly with suppliers to help them become self-sufficient,” shares Anshaj Gupta (19), a second-year student of SSCBS, who is Basera’s current project head.
Don’t scrap it yet
Project Basera’s flagship product is an eco-friendly, upcycled, multipurpose mat that is crafted from discarded scrap sourced from factories producing PPE suits. These mats can alternatively be used as mattresses or Yoga mats. “Earlier, with such a large amount of scrap produced, there was no choice [for the manufacturer] but to burn the plastic waste. Now, with Basera, we have found a viable and unique alternative [for them],” shares Bansal.
The women crafting these products receive about 70 per cent revenue, for each product sold. Enactus reinvests the remaining amount in the Project and also uses the money to further develop the homeless shelters they work with.
Innovate, uplift and inform
The mats are usually sold to various Yoga and dance centres around Delhi-NCR. Using innovation and creativity, Basera has expanded their range of products to incorporate eco-friendly handbags as well. Along with this, they also create sturdy cardboard furniture.
The team also conducts several drives for Resident Welfare Associations across the city. “We talk to citizens about the need for plastic waste management and offer our products as alternatives,” adds Gupta. Other initiatives by the team include conducting education, financial literacy, and menstrual hygiene drives for women and children residing in these shelters.
Speaking about the success of this Project, Gupta concludes, “The last time I visited the shelter, one of our entrepreneurs mentioned how Basera helped her in funding her son’s marriage. It felt amazing to have been a small part of such an important moment in her life.”