Seaweed polluting fresh water in ponds is an issue left unaddressed. At the same time, livelihood opportunities for underprivileged and illiterate women are also hopeless. Shaik Abdul Mujeeb, a social entrepreneur, is serving both the causes at the same time by helping women from low-income households make handicrafts from the weed water hyacinth thereby providing them with a livelihood.
Shaik Abdul Mujeeb used to notice the overwhelming presence of weed in ponds. Later he found out that it is water hyacinth which causes damage to the water resources. Water hyacinth is known to clog waterways and slows the water flow in that region. It is also known to cause floods by blocking the exit points of the water bodies. After its lifespan of 45 days, it’ll decompose in water and contaminates it. He also got to know the humongous amounts that are wasted every year by the government each year on cleaning up this weed. Usually, government officials call for tenders across the country to weed out the hyacinth. Abdul started his research and found out that baskets can be made out of this and began making one. Later he got to know that making artefacts out of this hyacinth is a huge industry in Assam. That thought made him turn this otherwise deadly weed into beautiful artefacts.
During this process, he took help from Mr Ashim Kumar Das the then Assistant General Manager of North Eastern Development Finance Corporation Ltd to visit some parts of Assam to meet artisans and learn about this art properly. After coming back from Assam he conducted a survey in 20 districts of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. In October 2014 Abdul established Allika a social enterprise which provides livelihood to low-income household women through the production of these lifestyle accessories made out of this weed. Initially, it was started with 6 women but now it is supporting more than 70 women. 30 men also work for Allika in gathering the required seaweed. This seaweed is procured from three villages in near Tenali, Pedravuru, Angalkuduru, Jagadaguntapalem, and some parts of East and West Godavari districts. It greatly helped these women in sustaining on their own and also providing education to their children. Allika currently makes handbags, coasters, dining mats, lunchbox/water bottle bags, laptop bags, conference bags and lamp shades. The stem of the plant is used for making the products, which last for a good eight to ten years.
Allika soon became a huge success and also bagged Rural Innovation Startup Conclave (RICA) award for 2017. Abdul who is now concentrating on extending the variety of products will also soon to make sanitary pads out of the fibre extracted from this Hyacinth. This man deserves all our respect for being both innovative and inspiring. Allika is soon to extend its wings in different parts of the state where hyacinth is vastly available.
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