Sanvar Oberoi

Ashoka Fellow
India,
Fellow Since 2014
The Bombay Hemp Company Private Limited (BoHeCo)

Citation

This profile was prepared when Sanvar Oberoi was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2014.
The New Idea
Sanvar recognizes the untapped economic value of natural fibers like coir, industrial hemp, Himalayan giant nettle and Roselle as raw materials for different industries like cordage, construction and textiles. Sanvar is enabling farmers to capture this value by creating the research infrastructure that demonstrates their use for different purposes, inclusive value chains and enabling a regulatory framework.

As the architect of these new age industries, Sanvar is also building a self-sustaining ecosystem around these crops. He is influencing the state governments to create policy and implementation structures at different levels, agriculture research institutes to develop indigenous seed varieties and explore the potential uses of these crops, micro-finance firms to facilitate access for producer groups to mechanized processing units, and local CSOs and farmer cooperatives to build the capacity of small and marginal farmers to tap these alternate sources of income. The DNA of the value chains are designed such that farmers remain at its center and draw the most share of value. Through strategic partnerships with popular textile brands and design institutes, he is generating market acceptability for the products made of these crops with a new generation of consumers. Sanvar is creating the opportunity for each stakeholder in the value chain (cultivators, processing units, distributors, wholesalers, retailers) to benefit from these natural fibre industries by strategically positioning these crops as ecologically-sensitive, natural source material that have so far been used only for subsistence purposes or for cottage industries.

Sanvar currently works with 20 artisan families in the Himalayas to help process hemp and nettle fibre with an aim to impact 450 families by 2017. Additionally, through agreements with the state governments of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Kerala, Karnataka and Maharashtra, he is expanding this form of value chain management to natural fibers in these states.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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