BHI in Management Next


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Bamboo House India in March issue of "Management Next"

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BHI in Management Next

  1. 1. SocialEntrepreneurship – Bamboo House India How a couple is transforming villages in AP I t’s said that life’s calling comes to a lot of people at weird situations and only a few are able to spot it. For newly married couple Aruna Kappagantula and Prashant Lingam, shopping for eco-friendly home furnishings and interiors for their new home in Hyderabad changed their lives completely. for rural housing structures is expected to take off in a few months this year. The Bamboo House’s four point agenda: Says Aruna, a postgraduate in Science (which subject??), “We got so fascinated with bamboo that we went on a year’s study • To create market for bamboo-based products tour to several forest areas in the country.” The tour had no • Provide better employment and livelihood opportunities to entrepreneurship motive but what they learnt transformed rural and tribal communities them. They learnt that the market potential for bamboo-based products was a whopping Rs.26,000 crore and that not much was being done on it. They also learnt that bamboo has the potential to rid a good five million people in Andhra alone, out of poverty. Of course, being eco-conscious, they learnt that bamboo minimizes CO2 gases and generates up to 35 percent more oxygen than most trees.” The couple set up Bamboo House India two years ago and intend focusing on the Andhra region initially and spread across the country at a later stage. Two strong drivers got the couple interested in bamboo and its transformative potential. They observed that government policies towards bamboo were ‘very supportive’ with outlays totaling over Rs. 1,500 crore. Aruna saw business potential here. “Despite these efforts, bamboo products as well as rural and tribal artisans continue to remain detached from mainstream markets due to various complex reasons. This very scenario in the country led to the evolution of our social enterprise,” What excited Aruna, 31, and Prashant 33, more was the value of bamboo beyond furniture. “We came to know that IIT Delhi was working on cost effective bamboo based housing technologies. We offered to commercialize the technology to address the housing scenario in the country because of bamboo’s cost and eco-friendly features. This was an opportunity to address the acute housing shortage among the rural and urban poor. The innovative bow beam technology44
  2. 2. SMEPost• Focus on bamboo based housing• Use wastelands for bamboo plantations Q&A with Aruna KappagantulaKnowing well that a large vision needs the support of manyagencies, the couple got key players to partner with them. Theygot the relevant departments of central and state governments, Do not rushthe Confederation of Indian Industry and IIT Delhi tosupport opening of India’s first exclusive bamboo showroomin Hyderabad. The showroom also demonstrated the bamboo to makehouse model of IIT Delhi.Bamboo House’s challenges are that it has to work within thevery restrictive forest laws and with tribals who are yet to enjoy moneybasic facilities such as electricity, telecommunication and roads.So the key to Bamboo House’s success is multiple businessrevenue streams.Bamboo House’s business model has already attracted goodattention. The Indian School of Business (ISB) - Hyderabad How did you work with the system?presented the Business Model of "Bamboo House India" ascase study at Cornell University recently. It got nominated for It is difficult to work in the system. It requires a lot ofthe Tata NEN Hottest Start-up competition in 2008. patience. If tapped fully, working with the system is the best, though time taking.All this attention has made their endeavor a little easy and hasgiven them a lot of hope. Like the Chinese proverb goes - ‘The Future plans – when will you spread acrosswinds may fell the massive oak, but bamboo, bent even to the India?ground, will spring upright after the passage of the storm.’ We have inquiries from across the country where new entrepreneurs want to replicate what we are doing. We have several franchisee inquiries as well but we don’t want to be in a hurry. We want to take time before expanding and branching out as we are not working on a proven or established social and commercial model. Bamboo is a very tricky and complex line. We would be happy if we can establish a robust business model in Andhra first before moving to other locations. How has the dynamics of the marriage worked for you? If we were not been a couple, this initiative wouldn’t have gone this far. We both share the passion for doing something unique and creative. Advice to the youth who are apprehensive about startups and following their dream. Remove the fear and apprehensions of starting a venture. Yearn for challenges and do not rush to make money. There will be a number of speed breakers in the journey. Be bold and believe in the idea. Do not give up on small downfalls. Sustaining those small problems that come your way is very important. 45