Social Enterprise, ‘Shakti.ism’ Provides Opportunities For Women In India + Bangladesh By Recycling Sari Fabric(s)

The upcycling of sari fabric is providing new opportunities for marginalised women in India and in Bangladesh, – resulting in the creation of beautiful handmade bags, cushions, quilts and scarves, as created and sold by not-for-profit start-up, Shakti.ism.

Thousands of saris are made each year, but they are usually thrown away when no longer needed. Upon recognising the potential recycling opportunities, not-for-profit start-up, Shakti.ism – decided to take action by encouraging the development of a circular economy, by up-cycling saris into new products. 

Magenta upcycled sari cotton kantha infinity scarf

This is slow fashion at its best. Not only are these stunning bags and home interior products reusing pre-loved fabrics, but they are providing work for women who might otherwise have little (or no) income. Hence, as a a women-led project, Shakti.ism aims to encourage women’s empowerment, and to help marginalised communities across India and Bangladesh.

Jitna Bhagani, the Founder of Shakti.ism, said:

We take pre-loved sari fabric and turn it into beautiful things, creating employment for artisans and breathing new life into used, unwanted fabric. These women are from some of the most marginalised and outcast communities and face difficult circumstances. I also work with women at risk of violence, and women who have survived sex trafficking. My company provides opportunities for them.”

Shakti.ism has been trading for just over a year, but already, the social enterprise has made a considerable difference to many marginalised women. 

To date, over 3,100 hand-made items have been produced, creating over 5,000 hours of employment, with 10 marginalised women and girls in South India receiving specialist tailor training, which was fully funded by proceeds from the business. 

In addition to this, the success of Shakti.ism has enabled over 10,500 compostable sanitary pads to be purchased for the artisans and their wider communities, as well as a menstrual hygiene workshop.

Shakti.ism seeks to empower women, – and especially those at risk of being impacted by gender-based violence, hence why the organisation has also partnered up with grass-root NGO’s, and sponsored livelihood skills training, aiming to preserve local skills and traditions, and to empower women by providing meaningful employment, and fair living wages. 

Shakti.ism’s idea first popped into Jitna Bhagani’s mind back in 2019. Prior to her business, she worked in fintech and tech, previously working for companies like Google and Hewlett-Package, thanks to her BA in International Business Management, her Postgraduate certificate in International Business, and her MBA. 

Find out more about Shakti.ism here: