Shah Hemp Inno-Ventures (SHIV), Nepal, has expanded its production of hemp textiles and finished goods – all the while giving needed skills and jobs to unemployed locals and traditional craftsmen.
“The textiles unit was not planned, it just happened,” said Nivedita Shah, who co-founded SHIV with her husband Dhiraj in 2014. The company sources Nepalese hemp “wildcrop” – feral, reoccurring cannabis plants – from locals for a growing range of applications and products in health & beauty and hemp construction along with the textiles.
Empowering local women
The textiles expansion is under “hEmpowering Bottom Up,” an initiative that works to advance economic and social development among Nepalese women. SHIV is a partner on the campaign with Nepal’s Women Development Advocacy Center (WDAC). SHIV is training and employing local women to make high-quality goods by hand, using local raw materials as much as possible, Shah said.
The ultimate goal is to develop a model where local women can independently produce small textiles products for local markets. The company aims to collaborate with designers and craftsmen who are willing to teach the local population, according to Shah. The project now has formed an initial team that includes one expert craftsmen and group of local women.
Locally sourced materials
“Nepal has been using hemp fabric to make bags, caps, dresses, shoes, etc. for decades, but unfortunately the sales of these products are limited to tourists,” Shah said. “We aim to produce hemp textile products for the average Nepalese population that now buys low-quality imports.”
For SHIV, textiles, construction, food and cosmetics respectively are all income generating departments, Shah said. That revenue, in part, has been invested in 3 heavy-duty sewing machines on which craftsmen are training women employees in the company’s expanding textile unit.
Under SHIV’s production chain, locally collected hemp fibers are processed into threads in the mountains by villagers, then weaved into fabric in Kathmandu via independent contractors. SHIV works closely with loom operators and craftsmen to develop fabrics and finished products for the company’s line of accessories. Manufacturing is at SHIV’s headquarters in Janakpur, Dhanusha, Nepal.
Potential in events
SHIV is initially marketing a range of customizable bags for conferences and professional meetings at volumes of 50 and more. The company already has a client in the AO Alliance Foundation, which does skills development and training for medical doctors in trauma care and plaster application.
The company sees great potential in the Nepalese market initially but says other Asian countries are on its radar, particularly India, Shah said.