Project: LiftUP in partnership with Upaya Social Ventures
Location: Uttar Pradesh
Category: Income Generation

Upaya works to create jobs and to improve the lives of the ultra-poor. LiftUP is one of Upaya’s accelerated programs designed to pro­vide entrepreneurs with business development support and financial resources to launch and scale their business. ElRhino Employees & Family-Upaya

In the second year of IDS support, LiftUP provided seed funding to Tamul Plates in Assam to produce and market high quality, all-natural disposable plates and bowls made from arecanut (palm tree) leaves. The company produces din­nerware through a network of affiliates across the tribal regions of northeast India and ensures that each affiliate has the skills and machinery necessary to produce superior quality arecanut products. Tamul Plates has grown into a busi­ness employing over 500 people and has attracted investors who contributed over $50,000. The com­pany expects to triple its capacity in 2016.

During the third year of IDS support, LiftUP seed funding went to support Elrhino, a com­pany that produces and sells handcrafted lux­ury paper, stationery products, and packaging materials made from recycled rhinoceros and elephant dung. Elrhino is still a relatively small company, employing approximately fifteen peo­ple (mostly women) in the rural areas around Guwahati. The company expects to double its capacity by the end of the year.

Upaya_Website_01Elrhino manages the entire dung paper pro­duction chain including collection, preparation, processing, and sale of finished dung paper products. A young Assam native woman leads the initiative and is building on the work begun by her parents over a decade ago to create new livelihoods and increase the value of rhinoceros and elephants to local villagers.

–2014 IDS annual report

Upaya Social Ventures has experienced exciting growth during the last year, including the expansion of its LiftUP project to six enterprises that cumulatively employ over 1150 people. Since finding reliable employment with Upaya’s partners, families have made tremendous strides out of extreme poverty. With the help of IDS grant funding, Upaya doubled the size of its portfolio with the addition of three new partners over the last year.

First, in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Upaya is incubating Samagra Sanitation, a Pune, Maharashtra-based venture to create jobs and provide clean sanitation services to urban slums. Second, Upaya is working with Barpeta, an Assam-based natural dinnerware manufacturer, to produce high quality, all-natural disposable plates and bowls made from arecanut (palm) tree leaves while creating jobs for the ultra-poor. The third new partner is Guwahati, Assam-based Elrhino, an exciting venture with an unlikely product—handcrafted luxury paper and stationery products made from recycled rhinoceros and elephant dung and other natural waste.

Upaya_Website_02Through the incubation of these three new enterprises, along with our three existing partners, Upaya reached its goal of creating over 1000 jobs for the ultra-poor. In the coming year, Upaya plans to capitalize on this momentum and again double its portfolio, creating thousands more jobs.

–2013 IDS annual report