Crafting livelihood : How bamboo jewellery is empowering tribals of Gujarat

The story of how a lawyer turned Social Entrepreneur, Saloni Sacheti works towards social and economic empowerment of the tribal population of Dang through her initiative Baansuli. Baans, means bamboo and Hansuli, is a term used to describe a jewellery pattern. 

Saloni Sancheti, a lawyer by profession identified the immense potential of bamboo and engaged the tribal community of Gujarat to create an urban sustainable fashion and home decor brand called Baansuli that has created waves globally.

Baansuli was an initiative started by Sacheti as part of her SBI Youth for India Fellowship. The project, initially covered only five artisans from a single village in Dang. In 2021, they had 25 artisans on board and have since been covering three different villages in the district. The villagers earlier did not possess a bed or mattress to sleep on, lacked a pakka house, smart phones, refrigerators and television. They have now earned more than ten lakh rupees under Baansuli. Till date, more than 30 people in Dang have been directly benefitted through Sancheti’s initiative.

Saloni Sancheti

Dang is a district in the Southeastern part of Gujarat. It is the least populous districts of Gujarat, but is one of the most economically distressed districts out of 640 districts in India. The people there live under poverty and do hard manual labour for a day’s income. Sancheti came up with the idea of making contemporary bamboo jewellery after her visit to Dang. went there in 2017, and stayed there for one and a half years.

“I understood them, started living with them, talking to them. They told me about the problems they faced. Some villagers did engage in handicraft but were paid less. People usually bargain with these small, marginalised workers. Nobody bargains when they go to a mall, but they do when they visit the Sarojini market in Delhi. I observed that there was an abundance of bamboo in the village. I wanted them to make something of the very things that they were surrounded with. Hence came the idea of making jewellery out of bamboo. I wanted an urban face for the project so as to promote it to the entire world,” shared Sancheti.

Sancheti’s main objective was to socially empower the group of tribal artisans by making handcrafted bamboo jewellery since people in the village were already well versed with bamboo and its crafting.

“We work together as a team. Initially, each piece is designed by me and I later started taking input from the artisans. Each piece has a different style and pattern,” said Sancheti.

Baansuli’s artisans make earrings, necklaces, bracelets, impact gifting, and home decor. The jewellery undergoes treatment with boric acid and boric powder and one can easily wear it with both Indian and western wear. This hepls provide a steady source of income while also keeping the tribal people of Dang, close to their traditional land so that they can continue with their daily chores.

Baansuli aims towards ceasing seasonal migration, mitigating the struggles of a women and preserving the livelihood of the tribal population of Dang. Baansuli’s products are manufactured in Dang while Sancheti resides in Jaipur and handles marketing, production, and designing along with the artisans.

“Our jewellery is contemporary, durable and light weight. According to research, it is not advisable to wear more than ten grams of jewellery. Our products range from three-ten grams. It has great finish and is durable.Moreover, more than a product, we sell a story, a story of the artisan’s journey. There are emotions that go into making the jewellery. It is prepared with the love and care of the artisan,” explained Sancheti.

You can buy Baansuli’s products through their website.

About the author

Chhavi Vohra