Bangalore: Haneesh Katnawer the ED & CEO of Himalayan Hemp Industries Pvt. Ltd. started his journey with his team to create a sustainable and conscious ecosystem.
Himalayas have always enchanted people from different parts of life. This enchanted beauty does not just come from the pristine snow-clad mountain tops but also, from the Himalayan way of life and indigenous practices carried out by the local inhabitants. When Sonam Sodha started her journey from Gujarat to seep into the Himalayas leaving behind the unsatisfactory job culture, she met Haneesh Katnawer along the way, and they took many journeys together in the Himalayas and many other regions of India where they observed a lack of common amenities and limited vision. Also, as they noticed, many villagers were choosing to leave their homes and were happy working as a security guard in the city ignoring they have everything they require in their villages.
To understand it more comprehensively, they started discussing with them about what they grow and how much they make. They were shocked to realize that the average household income of a farmer in the Himachali or Uttrakhandi region was coming around 1 lakh rupees in a year. At the same time, they heard about the increasing demand for hemp in the west with the USA, Canada, UK, Uruguay, South Africa, Malaysia, Thailand, and Australia coming up with policies for hemp cultivation and increasing farmer incomes in their respective regions.
Initially, they had not really thought about hemp as a business opportunity but during one of their travels, Sonam felt the need of having a sanitary pad made of hemp itself while providing it to the marginalized and minority communities of India. Then, they started working on the design and came across Vivek Pujari, their sanitary pad designer who started working with them on this project. At the same time, they started identifying a name for the organization and on the suggestion of Viki Vaurora, the first medical cannabis conference organizer in Bengaluru, they named their venture Himalayan Hemp.
Since they had left the corporate domains for a while due to the inefficiencies and vision limitations in the corporate sector, they wanted to come up with a comprehensive model for development. Therefore, during one of their treks to the top of the mountain, they created their cooperative model keeping farmers as the front runners of the community. Slowly, they started discussing their idea with more people and built a team where people chose to join them while getting minimalistic payments due to a stronger vision.
They visited places like Bareilly, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Surat, Bhuj, and New Delhi for finding different kinds of fabrics. For comparative analysis, they took Nepali, Uttrakhandi, and Himachali fibers to test the quality of the fabrics and Indian Himalayan Hemp proved to be better in terms of spinning and yarn processing Nepali fiber. Thereafter, they finalized the product and created different versions of it to have maximum options while they launch the product into the market.
They registered the company on 28th November 2019 and got enrolled in NIAM on 21st December 2019. Thereafter, they got their product validated from ATIRA as per Indian Standard and it is ready for market launch. Sonam also conducted her first human trials and she gave positive feedback in terms of comfort and feel. They have managed to reach the cost of 70rs per pad for one year and in one pack, they will be giving 5 pads for a day where 3 pads will be required to be used in a day with changeover time from 4-6 hours while 2 pads will be required in the early night and for sleep time. All the three pads used in the day will need to be washed in the evening and they have developed a process for that and customers will be given a proper wash and treatment guideline too. This product is undergoing patenting and is scheduled to launch in February 2021.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Sonam Sodha started working from home (Mandvi, Gujarat) and designed the first tested design of the Cannspirator mask (World’s first lab validated reusable N95 hemp mask). This product was made in a joint venture with two more companies named Awega Green Technologies LLP, Pune, and Small Spark Solutions Pvt Ltd., Pune. The product was created with a vision of helping health officials and common people by providing them a standard mask and it has been manufactured with the help of local village ladies from Mandvi, Meerut, Pune, and Saharanpur. With this, the organization is trying to rehabilitate the local daily wagers by providing home-based work to those families who lost employment due to the pandemic.
They are working towards their vision of a “Hemp Family” where a man will be cultivating the hemp crop while a woman will stitch and assemble the pads making both of them as earning members of the family. It is much better than having an industry of your own and working solely for their personal profits. The pictures of the products are given for a better representation.
Himalayan Hemp envisions to create a sustainable and conscious ecosystem where economy, society, and environment can thrive together and they represent themselves as a social enterprise because they have also started the process for registering a society and research foundation for boosting the research and innovation in the hemp sector. Moreover, they have worked on a cooperative model to create a sustainable supply chain by incorporating the cooperative societies of farmers and artisans for product creation. A recent update by the United Nations to reclassify the cannabis plant and remove it from the Schedule I list of Narcotic and Psychotropic Substances has opened new doorways for policymaking in India.
Vision: To preserve and utilize the indigenous Himalayan hemp plant for making eco-conscious products like Himalayan hemp sanitary pads for the weaker sections and minority communities of the society
To know about their products please get in touch with Haneesh Katnawer at [email protected]