Shikha Shah Is Creating A Value Out Of Scrap By Turning Them Into Beautiful Products. – ScrapShala
21 May 2017
Shikha Shah is the founder of ScrapShala. Scrapshala’s vision is to create a livelihood for less-privileged artisans through urban waste management. They manufacture up-cycled products for home decor, utility, corporate and personalised gifting.
Women Of Courage present to you the story of Shikha Shah.
Being born and brought up in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, Shikha did her schooling in Varanasi itself. After finishing school, she did her graduation from Hansraj College, Delhi University and post-graduation in environmental studies from TERI University in New Delhi. Later, she took up various internships and jobs which made her travel extensively all around India with a new set of people every time and made her evolve into a better person.
Since childhood, she used to dream of being an independent girl being able to take decisions and support her lifestyle. Today, she feels proud and scared at the same time, to be able to move in the same direction.
Coming from a traditional Marwari business family, her childhood was spent seeing most women as homemakers. Moving out of city and meeting new people inspired her to follow her heart and take risks. Now, ScrapShala is a full-time venture that she runs.
Working at Reliance Foundation exposed her to rural India and experience real-world problems. It was a perfect transition from academic to working life. IIT Madras introduced her to social entrepreneurship. She met many start-up founders and understood the hardships and strategies of implementing an idea successfully. Experiences at both the organisations made her confident to build an idea and start her own journey of entrepreneurship.
When Shikha returned back to Varanasi in November 2015 from IIT Madras and had spent two months brainstorming on an idea, ScrapShala was incepted from that idea in January 2016.
Spotting trash at every other corner in different parts of India is common but finding a solution that could be practised at the consumer level by any age group was exciting for her.
The simplicity and ease of practising the idea from the comfort of home encouraged Shikha to take it up professionally and generate a group of professionals who can replicate it and make it a household practice. That is when the idea of ScrapShala got incepted.
Her venture, ScrapShala is a service and product based social venture for managing non-biodegradable dry trash/scrap in cities. It took them around five months to make a team, reach people to donate scrap instead of trashing them, get a space to sort and clean the scrap, skill train artisans to up-cycle scrap into products, market test the pilot products and commercialise them.
The growth of ScrapShala has been good since it got incepted in January 2016. Being a tier -2, women-led start-up, their team has successfully been able to grow internally, increase production, move to an independent space and create a good market for up-cycled goods in Varanasi.
Support from government and educational institutes have been encouraging for her venture. Youngsters from schools and colleges work as interns and volunteers with them now.
Shikha was lucky enough to get the support of her core team member and a friend Kriti Singh who got her connected to IIT BHU and eventually got interested, joined the start-up and supported her throughout once she moved back to the city after eight long years.
In the world where girls at marriageable age from respectable families are expected to be polished from head to toe all day around, it was very challenging for them to pull day long public events such as awareness campaigns, cleanliness drives, workshops and exhibitions,
They also pitched their idea in start-up fair held in IIT BHU where they got immense appreciation, mentoring and support from mentors and investors who were judging the event. All these efforts did a very good marketing and helped them gain first few clients.
As the start-up grows bigger, willpower, hard work, innovation, networking and collaboration helps to outdo everyday challenges.
The journey of one year for ScrapShala has been amazing for Shikha. Closed ones who disapproved of the idea completely now donate their scrap to them. They have a good number of following on social media. In Varanasi itself, they have more than 200 customers, most of them being repeated ones. The municipal Corporation of Varanasi has also shown great support in last two months and made them part of their IEC projects.
ScrapShala has been able to contribute significantly in pushing the market for green and energy-efficient products in Varanasi. They have motivated a large section of youth to take up drives like spot-fixing and volunteer to take charge of cleanliness situation. They have made people realise the potential of scrap and people from cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Indore, Bhadoi have sent them scrap through courier. Few people who follow them regularly have replicated their concept and few of them have even gone to explore zero-waste lifestyles.
People can buy their products online/offline. Online they are selling on more than 15 portals. One can buy ScrapShala products from websites such as Kraftly, Flipkart, Amazon, Craftsvilla, WAC, Engrave, lovethistsuff, Culture truck and Soulescence. For customised orders, one can call them or write to them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shikha firmly believes, “Start with your own surroundings. Rest will be taken care of.”
She wants to convey a message to the women out there.
“Never let anyone tell you are not meant to do this. If the idea has potential, there are high chances of it getting worked out irrespective of gender.”
Shikha is a Woman Of Courage because she aspired something unique and found a team with whom she can make a better place to live and use the products which are the waste. The concept she works on in ScrapShala is truly admirable and Women Of Courage wishes her great success in life and in her projects.
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