By Sanjay Pinto

Jewish philosopher Maimonides’ gem : “Give me a fish, I will eat for a day, teach me to fish and I will eat for a lifetime” dawned on a Chennai entrepreneur during this lockdown, when local artisans knocked on her doors for doles. Instead of loosening her purse strings, Latha Chandramouli put on her thinking cap. In a jiffy, the owner of Just Light – a corporate gift store, had her eureka moment.
(Pic: Latha Chandramouli – Owner – Just Light)
The gap between the pressing need for masks and their availability presented a tailor made opportunity for empowerment. So when most employers are racking their brains over how to pay salaries without work, this young lady started hiring! Forty five tailors across the city, carefully steering clear of containment zones, were signed up. Fifty five thousand enviro friendly double layered reusable masks have been churned out so far.
The masks are sold at twenty five rupees a piece with a minimim order of a hundred. “The tailors, all women, are paid 5 rupees per mask. And they make anywhere between 100 to 200 masks per day. That translates into five hundred to a thousand rupees a day or fifteen to thirty thousand a month. And it is work from home” reveals Latha with her trademark broad smile.
Roughly thirty five thousand masks have reached the market. Public spirited individuals and organisations have placed orders and in turn they donate the masks in bulk to the sanitary workers, police personnel or NGOs like Blue Cross and destitutes.
“A person in Kodaikanal who has built a stop-gap medical facility for the estate workers sourced a thousand masks from us.”

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Corporate head honchos too have pitched in. “Our first donor was Anu Chitrapu of Bank of America who is associated with an NGO – Nyrvaana.”
“Good quality cotton cloth” was bought from establishments like Nallis, which in turn, parted with the end bits of cloth rolls. “We made masks out of these raw materials and handed them over to corporation workers.
Delivery is done through lynk and a couple of errand boys. Although only bulk orders were offered, individuals who read about the initiative on the social media, and wanted only a few masks for themselves, were also entertained.
The next time, someone approaches you for help, you don’t need to necessarily part with money. You can ‘sew’ it like Latha. That would be a cut above the rest.
(Sanjay Pinto is an Advocate practising at the Madras High Court, a Columnist, Author, Public Speaking Mentor & Former Resident Editor – NDTV 24X7)


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