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ALEEYAH: A 17-year old girl’s STEP to transform rural life of Bengal

The Delhi-based initiative has successfully completed two cycles of bringing crafts for sale and is set for Round 3 in the summer of 2016.

Delhi: Starting from a STEP Youth Leadership Program by TERI University to creating a social initiative and then transforming it into a ‘Social Entrepreneurship’; the student run and organised enterprise ALEEYAH has come a long way. In an exclusive interview with NewsGram by Divyia at Delhi, the 17-year-old founder, Diya Kundu shares her idea about the initiative that transformed so many lives.

Aleeyah was launched last year in May 2015 in an attempt to improve the conditions of the Golabari Village in Changmari district of West Bengal. As they say, ‘Charity begins at home’, Diya decided to start the initiative from her hometown itself.

Divya Kundu. Image source: ALEEYAH
Divya Kundu. Image source: ALEEYAH

As a part of the initiative, severely underpaid artisans and craftsman in the rural Bengal are offered a month-long job terms where they create handicrafts using natural raw materials. The handicrafts are then brought to Delhi, where they are polished and then sold at a good price. The proceedings are then reinvested in the village, with 25% going towards the artisans and the remaining 75% are used for overall village welfare.

Since its inception, among many of Aleeyah’s achievements- it has provided light bulbs for homes, repaired leaks on the roofs of various houses, supplied raincoats for farm labourers, given each household a safety-kit and identified and deployed volunteers to provide adolescents with knitting and weaving skills.

Handicraft items made by the rural people of West Bengal. Image source: Aleeyah
Handicraft items made by the rural people of West Bengal. Image source: Aleeyah

The response from the village has been positive, describes Kundu. “There was a time in the beginning when I wasn’t really taken very seriously because I’m really small and everything I understand but then when I got these really small ideas that worked well for them so when I got a camera and started recording everything then they got really excited,” she says.

Apart from Kundu, the enterprise includes two other project heads, along with an Arts division to add finishing touches to the handicrafts and a Social Media division that looks after marketing and brand promotion. Currently, all the participants are students of Delhi Public School Vasant Kunj guided by their French teacher Ms Adita Saxena.

rural people with handmade items. Image source: Aleeyah
Rural people with handmade items. Image source: Aleeyah

The school plays a prominent role in the functioning of Aleeyah as the Arts division completes their work within the school and a considerable amount of the sales are also conducted through fairs in the school premises. Sales also take place in the form of small handicraft fairs in the nearby localities.

Kundu says, the most unexpected aspect of managing an entrepreneurship comes from a young student of Commerce stream from DPS Vasant Kunj and the fact that how important communication is for the smooth functioning of an enterprise.

The Delhi-based initiative has successfully completed two cycles of bringing crafts for sale and is set for Round 3 in the summer of 2016.

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