Published: 20th July 2020
Unnati masks made by rural women with assistance from IIT Kanpur finds huge market online
Brand Unnati was created so that these products made by rural women and artisans could reach the end-users directly
In a social initiative of IIT Kanpur and Kanpur Parivartan Forum, dozens of women have taken onto making high-quality face masks during the Coronavirus pandemic in the country which has turned popular among the people. These masks are sanitized and packaged at IITK campus.
For the past three months, several thousands of masks have been made and sold even through online. According to Rita Singh of IIT Kanpur 'Unnati masks are made in several villages in Bithore area under the guidance of team from IIT Kanpur. Buyers like them because of their high quality, superior design and comfort. The feature that differentiates them in the market is that they are 4-ply and have an inner shield provided by E Spin, that prevents entry of the virus. Masks are washable and trendy. They have a contoured fit that prevents air leakage and properly covers nose and mouth". Prof Sandeep Sangal, Coordinator of Unnat Bharat Abhiyan here in a statement on Monday said," IITK students conducted resource mapping of these villages last year, and identified several products that are unique to the region.
Brand Unnati was created so that these products made by rural women and artisans could reach the end-users directly. Aranyaani, led by Sandeep Saxena, an alumnus of IIT Kanpur, joined hands and hosted masks on its e-commerce site. "According to Renu Shah of Parivartan, "It is a great learning experience for these women and we are very hopeful to see many rural products making into the market". In this interesting social initiative, Unnat Bharat Abhiyan, IIT Kanpur worked with Kanpur Parivartan Forum and took the support of E Spin and Aranyaani.
Women have shown that they can produce the best quality products if they get marketing, design and initial financial support. With more and more women taking into tailoring, a Training cum Production centre is planned in Ishwariganj village, Ms Shah said. Donors have started coming forward to support the cause. Raj Nath, an IIT Kanpur alumni and Mr NitinTyagi have donated funds and sewing machines to women. This will improve productivity and encourage women to carry out commercial work and fetch orders from boutiques, designers and others. Director IIT Kanpur Prof Abhay Karandikar said that the Unnati Masks adhere to safety norms and are now only a click away (https://aranyaani. in/products/protective-masks-made-in-india).
He said the project is empowering rural women, both socially and economically. At this time when Covid19 has hit us hard, everyone needs a good quality mask, and Unnati masks are an excellent option. The proceeds of the sales go for the development of rural women under the Unant Bharat Abhiyan project. The target is to install 25 sewing machines and upgrade the skills of village women and get onto high-quality products. Renu Shah, Renu Gupta, Faiz Khalid and Hitendra Gupta of Parivartan have given their active support to the project. Masks are designed by designer Surbhi Saxena and training sessions were done through videos done by Radha Harish of IIT Kanpur.