Nature has given us ample resources to use for our benefit and some of those precious gems are hidden as materials we often consider total waste. It takes special talent to recognize and utilize even the discarded, waste material and turn them into gold and entrepreneurs Mahima Mehra and Vijendra Shekhawat have done just that.
Starting with a loan of Rs 15,000, they chose elephant dung as their raw material and built a business whose turnover now runs into crores of rupees. Yes, you read it right. The beginning goes back to 2003 when the duo went to Jaipur where they stumbled upon hordes of fibrous dung near Jaipur’s Amber Fort. For decades people overlooked it considering total waste but they saw immense potential in it and decided to make paper out of it.
Taking one look at the products from their brand Haathi Chaap will change the way you look at dung. They make everything from notebooks, photo albums, frames, bags, gift tags, stationery to tea coasters with their price ranging from Rs 10 to Rs 500.
Unlike many businesses who first establish themselves in India and then begin exporting, Mahima started exporting their paper to Germany and did it for four years before launching her products in the Indian market. Their products have also found a market in United Kingdom. The cleaning of the dung is one of the most important processes. The dung is washed thoroughly with water in large water tanks. The water of the dung is used as fertilizers in the field, and the dung is dried up and used to manufacture paper.
Shekhawat says, “My mother went ballistic at the idea of bringing dung into the house. She claimed no one would ever marry me because of my occupation.”
Mahima preferred an eco-friendly way of living ever since she was little. This attitude helped her identify elephant dung as a useful resource. Haathi Chaap has a small team of villagers who help them with processing the dung and making paper out of it. Elephants apparently have a bad digestive system, which makes their dung highly fibrous, resulting in good quality paper.
Their products have an edge of having too much novelty which cannot be ignored and can market itself. Their initiative is green, chemical-free and gives us brilliant products.
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