The Initiative – sustainable livelihoods through handcrafted products


The Initiative

The initiative is a social business that provides sustainable livelihoods through well-designed, functional, handcrafted products. It currently works with women in the state of Maharashtra, India.



Arushi, an extremely inspiring and passionate young woman, is at the origin of the business. After having been in the field for a few month to understand the way of life with these households in rural areas, she finally got to the idea in 2012 which would help these women to use their unique sewing skills to get a significant improvement of their way of living.



In India, a lot of the products created by these women sell mainly around the time of festivals and other special occasions. Certain products if similar to those mass-produced in factories, find high competition on price and the earnings are usually uncertain; money earned is often immediately used.

The social business The Initiative has been built based on these learnings with the aim to help these women get fair and regular wages every month. The idea is as simple as brilliant : find innovative and unique product that can be sold all year long and that will not compete with the industrial low value for money product that are been bargained in the Indian markets.


This is how Arushi got the idea to use the Saree, the traditional Indian costume, which has a very high sentimental importance as well as waste fabric from tailoring of new garments. Made with large colorful pieces of silk or cotton, the Saree is made of majestuous broderies and it’s not the usage to give nor to throw the old used saree and even less to use cuts. They are transmitted through generations and are usually kept as souvenir.

By making bed covers or blankets from these sarees, the Initiative gives them a second life by keeping their very important sentimental value.

The initiative offers a large pallet of products such as blankets, bed covers or pillow covers made in the traditional way in Patchwork or Godhadis.


Arushi managed to launch her fantastic social business thanks to the help of the Incubator UnLtd India. She is now running for the second level which help her to develop her business model as far as possible. She will then have the opportunity to apply for the 3rd level and bring the Initiative to larger scale!


Mid-term evolution ?

After almost 2 years of running activities, Arushi is starting now to extend her distribution network to foreign countries. She just finished an order from Holland of specific Yoga mat bags. As a user experience designer she created the product from scratch, building the model and the colors so that it fits the specific requirements.

The Initiative is providing 18 women in Mumbai and 25 in the district of Satara with financially sustainable wages.

More women are being trained and will extend soon the current group of beneficiaries. For the Initiative there is a double opportunity for growth :

  • The increasing demand for high quality and home-made traditional products in the developed countries.
  • The enlargement of the current range of products. Some pilots are being run to launch brand new innovative products this year.


To learn more about The Initiative, the products and their creators :
Website: TheInitiative.In