In August 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic was at its peak, eight students from Mumbai's Universal Business School initiated a business project intending to produce eco-friendly low-cost face masks whilst providing employment opportunities to women working in the informal sector. The Universal Business School (UBS), based in Karjat Mumbai, involved its students in Project Panah (a UBS-Enactus initiative).
"Panah is one of our very first projects in the sustainability space. We chose Karjat in Maharashtra to begin with because of its higher feasibility. Maharashtra was one of the worst-hit states, and the project aimed to protect people during the pandemic," Chandsi Sharma, President of Enactus UBS told The Logical Indian.
Dr Asha Bhatia, Director- Research and Faculty in charge of ENACTUS at UBS, said, "The students at Universal Business School are focussing on establishing ground-breaking sustainable businesses that can benefit the society and foster the next generation of budding entrepreneurs and leaders. Our community consists of global businesses, academic and student leaders who are unified by one vision— to create a better world".
Raised Funds For The Project
For the seed funding, project Panah was put up on a fund-raising website, and a collective effort from the team led a sum of ₹27,060 being raised to begin the production and operations. Ritvika, the finance head of the project, "This fund has so far been utilised in such a way that it supports the project in the present and can later be used for expansion". The students are involved with various aspects of the project, including marketing (Digital and a field), logistics, customer relations, collaborations, and finances.
Panah has collaborated with Light of the Light Trust (LOLT), an NGO for the manufacturing centre for sewing, warehousing facility for mask making, and qualified beneficiaries to ensure a smooth flow of operations. In return, the project pays the NGO an administration cost. Students procure all the raw materials from a wholesale market in Mumbai.
Cost-based Pricing For Project Panah
Vandita Sharma, Vice-President of Enactus UBS, told The Logical Indian, "We have created a fast supply chain model wherein we procure raw materials from Mumbai and a financial model to keep finances on track. We use a cost-based pricing strategy to ensure that our products are affordable to all. We deliver our products through Indian post to our customers all over India,"
At present, the project has generated employment for 30 women who stitch eco-friendly cotton face masks and are given fair compensation for the same. Project Panah generated ₹50,000 revenue until July 2020 and attained breakeven in 21-22 Quarter 1. For the project's expansion, the team has been working on fruitful collaborations within the Enactus community and NGOs from different parts of India.