It's been one year since I first came to India and begun working with our original factory. 12 months later and we are now manufacturing in five different factories throughout India. Last week we landed in New Delhi to begin our supply chain tour which included inspections of our existing factories and visits to two new ones we would like to work with in the future.
Samantha and Hannah at Hauz Khas Village
As well as visiting our factories we are also here to check in with the projects we have been funding and identify new ones that we can support next year. New Delhi was our first stop and first on the agenda was checking in on the progress of our order for the Wellington Zoo.
There is a huge cash crisis in India at the moment after the government demonetarized the 500 and 1000 rupee notes. This was done in an effort to reduce the amount of counterfeit and illegal money in circulation but in doing so has eliminated almost 80% of the usable cash. As a result, many people are having to queue for hours each day, including many of the people working in our factories.
Confirming the finishings on some of our production pieces
The current situation has caused some delays for us, but being here has enabled us to closely monitor our orders and ensure everything remains on track. We were very impressed with the quality of the workmanship and conditions of the factories where our products are being made.
Our woolen products (hats, cardigans, jumpers etc) are all made in a small factory just outside of Delhi. Saurabh has recently set up the unit which employs 30 men from the local area. We were particularly impressed with the social initiatives being set up by him. Saurabh told us that the main reasons the children of his workers leave school is a lack of funding, to help ensure his workers children stay in school he is setting up a program to cover 50% of these costs.
The Little Yellow Bird team with Saurabh
While we were in Delhi we were introduced to a new factory that has just being built and is one of the first "Green" factories in India. After spending several hours talking with the owner and touring the factory we agreed that the values of this facility aligned so closely with ours that it would be a perfect place to partner with as we continue to grow and need extra capacity. The factory uses solar and natural gas, is zero waste and will soon have an edible garden on the roof.
Certifications only tell one part of a story and being able to visit our factories and assess the feeling that you get when you walk into one provides a level of assurance on a completely different level. While our factories all comply with the minimum regulations and have various certifications I am far more interested in the other aspects. Seeing happy smiling workers and owners that genuinely care about their staff and hearing about the steps being taken to change the industry as a whole are the type of organizations that we want to work with.
Smiling workers at the Green factory