Vikash Das may be an unknown name for many, but he means the world to few. He is the founder of Vat Vrikshya, which is a collaboration between people from various backgrounds, especially those who aim to make people’s lives better. Vat Vrikshya is an organization with the objective to make the world more liveable and a better place for all.
Speaking of his childhood, Vikash narrates how he was raised in a region that was primarily occupied by tribals. He grew up noticing the discrimination that they faced and how they were cut-off from the mainstream society. He often wondered why the society would not accept them as their own and rather ignored their sheer existence. Young Vikash was determined to bring a change in their lives. He realized that if he is to uplift their community, he has to help them rise above their poverty.
To do this, instead of giving away his money to them as charity, he made them his business partners. He began working with tribal women especially because he knew how difficult it was for their kind. Tribal women had to take up the responsibility to run their household mainly because most tribal men of that area were suffering from drug addiction. And thus began the social and economic empowerment of the tribal women.
Vikash offered them a range of sustainable livelihood opportunities while uplifting their social status. He even worked hard for their health, financial security and even education so that they do not have to face any more hardships in life.
The name “Vat Vrikshya”
Vikash fondly recalls how in the initial days, his organization did not even have an office. Instead, the held their very first official meeting under a Banyan Tree. Thus, it came to be named as Vat Vrikshya. Vat Vrikshya means “Banyan Tree” in Sanskrit.
Mission and Vision
Vat Vrikshya has the aim to remove poverty, especially amongst the Adivasi women. It plans to uplift their economic conditions and boost their individual skills using the naturally available resources. They plan to empower each and every Adivasi woman and to make them self-sustaining.
The Tribal women have embraced the social change entrusted to them. They are full of grit and desire to bring about a change, not only in their personal lives but also for their entire community. They wish to achieve prosperity for their entire tribe by capitalizing on every opportunity that comes their way.
Vat Vrikshya has brought these gutsy women in touch with other inspirational women entrepreneurs hailing from other regions and villages. They have discussed the scope of the products they wish to roll out. Being tribal, naturally, they are gifted and skilled artisans. Vat Vrikshya offers them a greater platform for them to sell their handicrafts. While women were already organized and were carrying out such operations in smaller groups, Vat Vrikshya began seed funding them and marketing their goods. The women were also educated on the basics of a business model and the various Government schemes that will benefit them.
They offer a range of products including handicrafts, handlooms, herbal and cosmetic products, and even organic crops.