Gundurao Medar carefully picks the clock dial and assembles it into the bamboo clock base while sitting on a goni cheela (gunny sack) as he shares about his family’s journey as traditional bamboo craftspeople. “My parents taught us this craft, and those days they mostly weaved winnowing fans and baskets”, he recalls.
Gundurao lives with 21 other family members and works with his two brothers in the same house in Basapur, Belagavi. He recollects with teary eyes, “With the advent of plastic alternatives for baskets and winnowing fans, our occupation was declining, and we faced severe financial challenges”. Gundurao met one of the Micro-Entrepreneurship Development Program (MEDP) representatives accidentally in a craft exhibition. “I was introduced to Deshpande Foundation’s MEDP, and since I was disappointed with the sales in the exhibition, I did not pay any heed to it”, he says.
On the verge of quitting his crafts work, Gundurao called the MEDP representative - Parameshwar Gaded, and explained the challenges he was facing. He was then introduced to the Entrepreneurship Development Program (EDP) and participated in mentorship sessions on marketing, business management, financial literacy workshops, and multiple Udyami Santhes and Mega Utsavs. “I feel our traditional occupation would have perished if I had not associated with MEDP”, says Gundurao.
He elaborates on how the program and workshops have helped him understand bookkeeping, distributing business earnings to further invest in his business, starting and managing a business on social media, and using UPI and Google Maps. “IAS and KAS Officers come with their families to my home to make customized orders; I feel proud that I am a bamboo Craftsman”, says Gundurao with a broad grin. He earns about ₹2 lakh with up to 40% profit every month and makes 300+ different products.
I have developed a good network with customers and I understand demands better. Since then, I have only dreamed of growing our traditional crafts business, and I will never give up”.
Gundurao and his family aspire to support ten other Medar families in their village and want to teach their kids the craft of traditional bamboo product-making, along with educating them. Beaming with confidence and joy, Gundurao says, “Deshpande Foundation is like our parents, I feel at home when the MEDP representatives call us to ask about our life and business. I thank the Foundation for always sheltering us and other micro-entrepreneurs with support”.