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Changing Lives of Hundreds, One Bag at a Time

Indian Masterminds Stories

Bihar, a state that is known for producing civil servants, and also migrant labourers, is now witnessing a mini-industrial revolution. The bag manufacturing cluster located in Bela Industrial area in Muzaffarpur is a prime example. Established on a public-private partnership model, this cluster has given employment to around 1200 women and is producing more than one lakh bags (duffle bags and other travelling bags) in a month. 

This was possible due to the support and collaboration from the Department of Industries, JEEViKA, as well as corporate partners such as M/s Highspirit and M/s RTD Global. This cluster represents a significant milestone in the convergence of efforts. 

India Masterminds spoke to IAS officer Rahul Kumar, CEO of JEEViKA to get more details. 

BAG MANUFACTURING CLUSTER

The bag manufacturing cluster at Bela Industrial Area in Muzaffarpur offers direct employment to more than 1000 JEEViKA Didis. “The cluster is unique not just in economic front but also on enterprise ecosystem front with canteen services (Didi Ki Rasoi), creche, medical centre, training centre, common facility centre, logistics services anchored by JEEViKA entrepreneurs and production units,” said Mr. Kumar.

The cluster was constructed by BIADA and given on rent to the entrepreneurs

The specialty of this cluster is that it has a full eco system required for any industry and all kinds of facilities for the workers. The successful development of this cluster was appreciated by state Chief Minister Nitish Kumar during a recent visit. The official inauguration had been done by Chief Secretary Amir Subhani on 4 December, 2022.

ENCOURAGING ENTREPRENEURS 

In recent years, the Industries Department in Bihar has made policy level changes to encourage entrepreneurship. Leather and textile have been identified as the focus areas and to promote them, several grants, subsidies and land have been made available for people who want to become entrepreneurs. 

As a part of this encouragement, the bag cluster operates on a plug-and-play model provided by the Department of Industries. And, a total of 39 JEEViKA entrepreneurs have enthusiastically participated in this initiative by establishing 24 machines in each of their sheds, resulting in the employment of over 1100 trained workers. Most of the workers are women and only a handful are men. These men were employed only where high skill was required to operate the machines and there was unavailability of women as candidates for the job. 

CM Nitish Kumar also visited the cluster

“The 39 women have been given 10 lakh as grant plus loan under the Mukhyamantri Udyami Yojna. They have to repay it in four years. The cluster has a tie up with Highspirit who already had a production unit there and was looking for further expansion,” Mr. Sangeet Kumar, a Business Manager working for Jeevika.  

Highspirit has a buy back agreement with the 39 JEEViKA entrepreneurs. As part of this, they provide the raw material and also buy the final product. 

SKILL DEVELOPMENT 

After identifying the 39 female entrepreneurs, the next target was to train them. Each unit had 24 machines which meant around 1000 workers were required. So, a total of around 1500-2000 trainees availed 21 days training at RTD Global and 10 days on-the-job training at Bela Industrial area. Currently, 150 participants are undertaking training at the training centre. The training is conducted under Bihar Skill Development Mission’s Recruit-train-deploy model. 

“The training was given to more workers as there is a chance of dropping out. Not only workers but the 39 entrepreneurs also got training under the ‘Entreprenuership Development Program’ by Jeevika, and through a tie-up with a management college. They were trained for GST and other managerial skills,”Mr. Sangeet said. 

All 39 women have been give their GST number and their enterprise has been registered.

ECO SYSTEM DEVELOPMENT 

Sheds have been built and offered on subsidized rental basis by BIADA (Bihar Industrial Area Development Authority) to the entrepreneurs.  The target for each of this shed is 4000 bags per month. The total production for the cluster in Dec 2022 was around 17K which have reached to more than a lakh now. 

The Creche facility is also available for the women workers

Now, they have joined with 40 other micro entrepreneurs (all women) who have set up machinery (decentralized production system) in their homes to produce and supply Bartack required for the bag to the entrepreneurs at the Bag Cluster, thereby contributing in circular economy creation. Each of these micro entrepreneurs are earning around 14k-15k monthly. 

All these have been also generating behavioural changes in the families. “More and more families are coming and asking for more raw materials as they want to work more. We have our limitations, yet, we are planning to expand this as much as we can,” said Mr. Sangeet. 

Taking another step forward, a public company named ‘Tirhut JEEViKA Mahila Bag Producer Company Ltd’ was registered on 16 June this year and is in the process of being handed over to the entrepreneurs.


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