Eco Kargha Receives Funding from Kinara Capital Following Record Sales

Upaya partner Eco Kargha and Bangalore-based Kinara Capital have entered into a working capital debt agreement that will allow the company to meet the demands of a second straight year of a high double-digit sales growth. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. 

“Having worked with Dr. Ravi Chandra and his team since 2012, we are pleased that Kinara Capital is able to provide additional financing to meet the company’s day-to-day business needs,” said Upaya’s Director, Business Development Sreejith Nedumpully. “This deal is one more endorsement of Eco Kargha's growth prospects and a validation of the business model’s ability to positively impact the lives of hand loom weavers,” said Nedumpully. 

Eco Kargha was also recently identified by Unitus Seed Fund as one of the “75 Companies Transforming India’s Livelihoods,” chosen for the company’s “potential for scale and to impact large numbers of Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP) populations.”

Upaya's Sreejith Nedumpully Joined By Several LiftUP Project Partners at 3rd Annual Action for India Forum


This January Upaya's Director, Business Development Sreejith Nedumpully travelled to Delhi to participate in the 3rd Annual Action for India forum. The two-day, invitation-only national conference brought together 100 leading social innovators with an equal number of donors, technology leaders, impact investors, and senior government officials.

At the event Sreejith was joined by many of Upaya's LiftUP Project partners including Dr. Ravi Chandra of Eco Kargha, Swapnil Chaturvedi of Samagra, and Ajaya Mohapatra of Justrojgar.

"The forum was a wonderful opportunity for Upaya to meet the best of India's emerging and established social entrepreneurs, and to introduce our current LiftUP Project partners to the country's leading supporters of social innovation," said Nedumpully.

This year's forum was headlined by leaders from across the spectrum of Indian innovation and industry including Mr. Sam Pitroda, Mr. Desh Deshpande, and Mr. R Chandrasekaran.

Eco Kargha Baseline Social Metrics Report (November 2013)

In November 2012, Upaya initiated a partnership with Bhagalpur-based start-up Eco Kargha Marketing Pvt. Ltd., a company working to improve the lives of rural weavers through the production and sales of traditional handloom products. Surveyed in mid-2013, this Baseline Social Metrics report provides a snapshot of social metrics for 119 weavers working with Eco Kargha at the time of their hire, serving as a baseline for reporting their progress out of poverty.

The data in this report was collected before these households started their employment with Eco Kargha, and prior to receiving their new income stream. Before Eco Kargha was established, the only option open to these weavers was to sell their products to local wholesale agents and receive devastatingly low margins and irregular payments. Due to the uncertainty of demand from these traders they would end up with little to no work - especially in the summer months.

Among the report’s findings:

  • While only 15% of households live under the $1.25 a day extreme poverty line, the per capita earnings are just $0.49 per day for each member of the average five-person household.
  • For most of the households weaving not only employs a majority of their family members, but its contribution in the family pool of income is also the highest.
  • The majority of houses include one form of sturdy building material – either wall or roof – however 89% are categorized as “semi-pucca,” meaning that quality materials are augmented with mud or thatch.
  • Food expenditures consume 85% of the average weaving household income, which is 30 percentage points higher than the Indian national average.

The business generated by Eco Kargha comes as a shot in the arm for weaving households, increasing household earnings and allowing them to rely on their craft as their primary source of income, year round. Subsequent metrics reports will track these households’ progress and report on improvements in their quality of life as a result of these new jobs.

You can download the full report here.

Eco Kargha Partners With Upaya to Build Employment Opportunities for Bhagalpur Weavers


Eco Kargha Handicrafts Marketing Pvt. Ltd. is proud to announce that it has joined with Upaya Social Ventures to employ marginalized Tasar silk weavers in Bhagalpur, Bihar - a region commonly associated with the high-luster, strong, and lightweight fabric. With Upaya’s backing, Eco Kargha will hire and train slum-dwellers on new skills, techniques, equipment, and designs for producing wholesale Tasar silk as well as linen, cotton, and fine wool. Terms of the investment were not disclosed.

“Bhagalpur weavers have long been regarded as artists creating magic on their handlooms, but have faced challenges in scaling up the industry beyond handicrafts,” said Dr. Ravi Chandra, Founder and Director of Eco Kargha. “With Upaya’s help, we will be able create systems that will impact thousands of weaving families in a sustainable manner,” he said.

Bhagalpur is known for being the traditional home of Tasar silk products, and as many as 100,000 families are in some way involved in its production. However, while it is an increasingly popular material in men’s and women’s clothing, Tasar silk cultivation and production in the area remains very unstructured. The majority of people weaving Tasar silk do so as a secondary occupation as the linkages to tools, materials, training, and markets are not in place for weaving to be a primary livelihood for a significant number of people.

“The Eco Kargha team has spent years working with some of the poorest populations in Bihar, and the founders have a keen sense of both the needs and productive potential of Bhagalpur's artisans,” said Sachi Shenoy, Executive Director of Upaya Social Ventures. “We at Upaya look forward to working with Eco Kargha to develop a sound business model that can create a number of new jobs and social benefits for this geography.”

Most Eco Kargha weavers qualify as ultra poor - generally living under $1.25 a day at the time of their hire – and over 50% belong to a backward caste, scheduled caste, or minority community. Furthermore, the United Nations Development Programme has identified Bihar as one of the states in India with the highest rates of domestic migration in search of work because of the lack of opportunities to earn a viable living locally.