Jaisalmer or “the Golden City” is situated in the state of Rajasthan, close to the Indian-Pakistan border. The Jaisalmer Fort is one of the magnificent icons here. The city is also known for its leather products silver jewellery and embroidery on silk and cotton.
A 35-minute motorbike ride North West of the city of Jaisalmer is the farming village of Roopsi. Villagers also produce leather crafts to supplement their income. They can barely afford basic necessities such as food and clean water with their current income. There is a school with a straw roof in the village with 140 students between the ages of 3- 12 years old. The school not only suffers from poor infrastructure but is also struggling to sustain itself financially to provide education to the children. On top of that, the presence of a cast system further denies the Roopsi villagers social mobility. This was something Haziq noticed on one of his backpacking trips across India in 2015.
Haziq has been back to Roopsi a couple of times after that first trip. On one of his trips he brought along his cousin Nasrul. They were both inspired by the ambition of the children and the willingness of the villagers to progress. Being stuck on a 39 hour train ride back from Jaisalmer, the cousins started brainstorming on ideas of what they can do to help the villagers turn their dreams into reality. They started with a one-off project involving a few artisans from the villages. Haziq brought some of the leather bags produced by the villagers back to Singapore for sale as part of a social impact week initiative in NTU. 10 out of 11 bags were sold. With the money they receive from the sale of the hand crafted leather bags, they bought 140 sweaters for the children in the school. They also bought some food supplies for the village.
With the success of this one-off engagement, the team dug deeper into the leather bags market. They soon realised that they could potentially build a sustainable business by selling these leather bags. The Project Nomad started to take form.
Project Nomad’s main objective is to better the lives of disadvantaged communities in Jaisalmer, by helping them generate a sustainable source of income. They plan to work with the local artisans to design and produce high-quality products made of ethically sourced camel and goat leather. Profits made from the sale of these goods are then used to better their lives through education and vocational training.
Since the inception of the idea, the team has designed three leather bags. They have also recently launched their website (www.theprojectnomad.com) where their products and journey are being documented. Project Nomad is also working to launch an Indiegogo campaign at the end of September 2016. The funds raised through this campaign will allow them to prototype the new batches of products. If this is a success, they would be able to replicate this model to involve other similar communities within Asia.
The Project Nomad is part of the Enactus Nanyang Technological University who emerged as the Enactus Singapore National Champion 2016. They will be representing Singapore in the Enactus World Cup in Toronto, Canada from 28–30 September 2016.
Enactus World Cup (www.enactus.org/worldcup) brings together an international network of students, academic, business and government leaders to showcase how Enactus members around the world are enabling progress through entrepreneurial action. In addition to the competition, events such as the World Cultural Experience provide an exhibit of the rich diversity represented within Enactus. Multiple receptions, lunches and dinners, along with special activities such as the Top to Top Forum, The Global Goals Forum and Top to Future-Top Sessions, as well as panel discussions, speakers and sessions provide quality opportunities for collaboration and celebration among attendees.