Why rely on plastic or steel tiffin boxes while you can opt for healthy, sustainable options to pack food? Yes, we are talking about the ever attractive bamboo tiffin/lunch box or what can be called traditional dabba, which has gone viral and became the internet’s one of the most sought after products with everybody talking about it. Users are taking to social media to vouch for the bamboo tiffin boxes, which they feel are very sturdy and look fabulous.
A Manipur based start-up has devised this eco-friendly lunch box that not only helps reduce plastic pollution but also gives a boost to the local economy. Last Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also appreciated the bamboo artisans from Manipur, Tripura and Assam for their creative ingenuity.
Let us take you to Manipur’s Churachandpur district, around 60 Km from Imphal, to meet V Ginkhanpau, the face behind all this buzz.
A labor of love
The idea came to Ginkhanpau from a very funny incident. With the recent lockdown due to COVID-19, he was staying mostly in his room and had to store leftover food every-day. It was in his efforts to store extra food that the idea struck him.
“Bamboo tiffin boxes were there and it reckoned well with local customers, but the market demand was never this high before. With the launch of the new and improvised version called, Zogam Tiffin Box, the demand gained has considerable momentum,” shares Ginkhanpau.
The lockdown has severely impacted normal life of people as many lost their jobs while others suffered huge loss in business. However, turning adversity into opportunity, this 27-year-old decided to utilise the time to fine-tune the look for the bamboo tiffin carrier he and his team had started working on some time back.
Ginkhanpau, known amongst his family and village as Pau, is a self-trained bamboo artisan who started Zogam Bamboo Works (ZBW) in 2014. His business partner Golan Naulak joined him in 2017.
In spite of his inherent skills, Ginkanphau lacked formal coaching when he first began crafting. In 2014, he joined a month-long course in bamboo handicrafts in Dehradun followed by another month’s course at the Cane and Bamboo Expertise Centre (CBTC), Assam. Armed with the training, he began promoting bamboo merchandise from his home in order to arrange the necessary capital for launching his firm. In a couple of months, the business turned profitable and ZBW got registered as an MSME (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises) unit.
“Initially, it was a very humble set up, functioning from a very small cottage, with not many expectations. It was rather a time pass and talent grooming hub where I spent my idle hours. However, with time and with the recent changes in life, the venture has come to a level that was beyond my personal ambition and thoughts,” shares Ginkhanpau.
Ever passionate about his work and crafts, Ginkhanpau began making bamboo products pretty early. From pens, water bottles to ornamental items made of bamboo, the expert craftsman effortlessly created beautiful, eco-friendly and utilitarian merchandise. However, of his rich repertoire, the tiffin box shines forth as the mother pearl!
“The availability of multiple local varieties of bamboo helps me diversify the products. It is purely handcrafted with hours of manual work, as such, it is highly time consuming,” he notifies.
The durable lunchbox has several compartments that can carry different items, much like the traditional Indian ‘dabba’, which has gone out of fashion due to the clunky make and weight. The eco-friendly bamboo lunchbox is a light and savvy alternative that can easily replace plastic lunch boxes. Fashionable, cool and sustainable, these bamboo tiffins can be utilized for storing both cold and hot meals. One can now simply bid adieu to the hazardous plastic dabbas!
Ginkanphau feels the success of enterprises is all about teamwork and spirit. In 2016, when he entered the Guinness E book of World Information, by carving a 22.1 ft-long pen crafted out of a single dragon bamboo, he attributed the success to his team including Adv. Minlun (Chairman) and Golan S.Naulak (Vice Chairman: Marketing and Networking).
“It’s wholly about team work. Our initiative is headed and ideated by the three of us and deftly executed by our staff members who work tirelessly for the success of ZBW,” he informs.
The initiative has not yet received any fund or other kind of support from any government or administrative departments, but that doesn’t deterGinkanphau and his team from realizing their dreams. After wooing customers at home, this god-gifted bamboo artist is now all set to spread wings in foreign shores and has already reached Dubai. And with the last product now selling like hotcake both online and offline, new horizons are fast opening up for these young innovators!
May sky be their limit!