“Set an example for future generations and rock on” Payal Nath, Founder of Kadam
Payal Nath, Founder of Kadam, has done her bit to empower the rural women of India by training them to create utilitarian goods out of organic materials and creating a market for them in the city.
1. How would you like to describe yourself?
An extremely positive person who is a go getter and believes in humane development work not achievements, results, not talks. A love for life with a zest to discover the why’s and why not’s in it in my journey keeps me kicking mentally and spiritually. I love all the roles I play, as a daughter, daughter-in-law, wife, mother, boss, colleague, and learner.
2. Tell us about your work at Kadam India? When did you start working?
I work with natural fibres like bamboo, grass, cane etc. and using these create employment opportunities for rural women & youth in the socio-economic project for women empowerment by training them to make everyday use utilitarian products for the urban market. We work with those tribes and communities who have very less skill, less or no formal education and no opportunities outside their homes.
We started this Organization in 2006.
3. What are some of the challenges which you face in your work?
In the villages where we work: gender biases, non-acceptance by the male members of the communities in the initial stage of working, no understanding of professionalism, unreliability, are few of the important key challenges.
At the city level, the challenge is to create a market for such products as made by them where the competition is against those products made by the privileged societies and companies with machinery. To compete in an open market as an equal overlooking the hardships in the process of making these handmade products is not easy
4. Whose support did you get to start and run Kadam India?
My husband was the biggest support and critic too at every step. My sister who lives in Delhi and me started together, so we have travelled together and shared many an idea in the first few years too. To run it, we have a dedicated team now with very sincere people and consider myself lucky for this.
5. What does women empowerment mean to you?
When women have their own identity and treat themselves as individuals who play many roles as a colleague, boss, student, wife, mother, daughter etc… but with the core of them being what makes them , them.
6. Apart from work what else do you do in your spare time?
I love to paint, experiment with cooking, write inspirational quotes and watch films sitting tucked in my bed with my family and Zorro (our pug).
7. What are your future plans for Kadam India?
Till now we have been able to help by creating work opportunities for approx. 600 women & youth. We wish to create this for all the 6000 bamboo artisans in our work area (90% of whom are poor).
8. Please tell us more about your background and what made you choose this?
I grew up in an army family with highly qualified educationist parents. After dinner discussions dad would say -You decide what you want to study and do when you grow up but “DO NOT BECOME A NATIONAL WASTE”.
Mom, a professor of Sociology had given up her career to raise us 3 children, and she would open a school for the under-privileged children in most cities that dad would be posted with full dedication and with no ownership. Living a useful life with all that we needed was the backbone of our home education. I did work in the mainstream industry in initial phase of my career and learnt a lot from there too – the professionalism, time management, cut throat competition, handling work pressures and mechanized system oriented production methods. All this is helping me now. But against that backdrop, the main reason why I am doing what I am doing is after getting married and coming to Kolkata, I had degrees and experience but no job here and initially worked as a consultant designer for the DCH, New Delhi traveling to different craft pockets of India across from Srinagar to Manipur and wasn’t convinced of the policies of the government under which I was operating. I believed in a model and decided to try it out by co-founding KADAM with Pooja Ratnakar, my sister, and my husband Rajesh Nath.
9. Which area of your work do you enjoy the most?
Seeing the transition in the attitude change as well as life change is most rewarding. Seeing them inspired and inspiring their peers when their lives change is the most enjoyable part most definitely.
Creating solutions for livelihood after identifying the strengths of the women by matchmaking this with the market requirements is extremely fascinating. I love working on strengths of people and strengthening them further to make people have a feel good factor within them.
10. Women face so many challenges in society. If you had the power, which problem would you like to fix?
The Patriarchal system I feel is the root of the current status of women. I would like to change that surely without being a feminist and no not introduce matriarchy either.
11. What makes you happy?
Spending time with family, flirting with my husband, cuddling Zorro and discussions & exchange of ideas, plus all above with my daughter Puravi and yes cooking for her and with her too.
12. Any suggestion or words of advice for fellow women-entrepreneurs?
Just believe in yourself. You are the best as no one else is you. Set an example for the future generations too in all your humility. And rock on.