Kadambini Dey, Artisan, Balasore Shobai Sangha

Kadambini Dey, is a woman sabai grass artisan from Sarpunja village in Baliapal block, Balasore, Odisha. She comes from a family of 5 members which includes her husband, a son, her mother- in-law and father-in-law. Her son is in 9th standard and her husband is a disbaled person thus, leaving her as the sole bread earner in the family.

Kadambini has received formal education upto 8th standard. Prior to her marriage, Kadambini was not versed with the craft. However, after her marriage, in order to manage household finances, she started practicing the craft of making products using locally sourced sabai and date palm. She additionally worked at a small agricultural farm of her in-laws.

Kadambini belongs to the economically weaker section of the community. Before practising the sabai craft her only source of income was through agriculture.

In 2010, Adventure, an organisation that works with Odisha artisans practising the craft of natural fibre- Sabai and Bamboo, approached the artisans in her district and conducted design development workshops in collaboration with DIC. Kadambini and a few other artisans from her district took part in these workshops. These sessions were organised till 2017 and post the session, they were given cursory orders.

At this time, the monthly income of these artisans was between 500 to 600 INR.

In 2018, AIACA with the support of ORACLE- CAF, started a project in the Baliapal block. AIACA organized various workshops on design development, skill development, and business skill development. This was the first time that Kadabini and the group were introduced to natural dying. She quickly gained knowledge on various types of designs and different weaving techniques.

This set the foundation of a craft enterprise we know today as Balasore Shobai Sangha. With knowledge and adept skills, the group worked on international orders. AIACA organised an exposure visit to a nearby cluster where she met other artisans who practiced the same craft and exchanged skills. By this time, Kadambinis earnings rose to INR 5,000 a month.

Today, Kadambini works as a master artisan and simultaneously supports fellow artisans in developing and weaving better quality products. Today, Kadambini Dey earns INR 7500.

Over the past 3 years, while working with AIACA, she has gained experience on the importance of operating in a team/group. According to her, all artisans are happy to work together and are also getting orders on a regular basis.