Cocobagh is a Social Business Venture based in the West Bengal region of India, where all profits are re-invested to provide opportunities for marginalised people. Established between Eco Jute and WBC in 2013 we focus on sustainable, natural products using traditional handicraft skills with contemporary twist. All textile based products are produced ethically by women working in our social business venture co-operatives in India.
A social business venture is specifically structured to drive social change, generating profit to be re-invested in to projects that will benefit the population or the cause that the enterprise serves to benefit.
We aim to improve the lives of marginalised people from the local community surrounding our bags for life production facility, through training and support – to help them gain the skills required to financially support themselves and their families. Working with the self-governing local council, we have identified that the greatest need in the region is employment, particularly for widowed women who are most ostracised from society. By paying a salary to these women whilst they learn the skills they need to gain employment, they are able to afford to send their children to school. The ultimate aim is to offer people an opportunity to provide for themselves and their families.
Life in a country developing as quickly as India provides many with a route out of poverty, but only for those who are able to take advantage of these opportunities. It is easy for those from marginalised communities to get left behind, their relative wealth becoming worse. Widowed women have a particularly difficult time trying to access employment or training, their confidence wains and the cycle leads to more isolation. In an industry where the overwhelming majority of employment is given over to men, our aim is to ensure that we start to address this imbalance by specifically training women.
The organsiation is lead by James in the UK and Sajjan in India, neither of whom are paid with funds from the project for their time, travel or services – all these costs are covered by commercial organisations they run independently. The project pays Sukumar, who runs all the training, Shruti who manages the well being of the trainees and the students who are paid for their attendance. All other costs including the building, machinery and organisational set up have been covered by Eco Jute and WBC.
Buying products with a Cocobagh label ensures continued investment in the project, helping to continue the traditions of artisan handicrafts whilst offering communities the opportunity to train and support marginalised people. As we develop more products that can be produced by the women in our projects, more people can be trained – because all the profits are re-invested. You are supporting an organisation that exists to provide fairly traded products that help break the cycle of poverty – you are investing in a fair future for the people and the communities surrounding our bags for life production facility.
As we are a Social Business Venture, we are not a registered Charity. This means we cannot accept donations, the best way to support us and the work we do is to buy something, contact us to find out more!