Achieving Scale While Retaining Your Value System—Jeremy Higgs on Jaipur Rugs
December 05th 2012 13:12
One of the leading manufacturers of handmade carpets, Jaipur Rugs is changing the carpeting industry from one that’s exploitative to one that improves the lives of its weavers. All this while providing the highest quality products.
Jeremy Higgs is Executive Officer at the Network of Organisations Working for People with Disabilities, Pakistan (NOWPDP). His experience spans from renewable energy to serving as President of the Pakistan chapter of AIESEC.
Stories from the founder
I arrived late to the journey and was thrown right into our field visit to Jaipur Rugs — the largest exporter in India of hand-knotted rugs. On the 2-hour journey to one of the villages that Jaipur Rugs works in, we were given an introduction to the work of Jaipur Rugs, and then had the unique opportunity to hear from the founder, NK Chaudhary, about his 30-year journey of building the organisation. It all started with his realisation that carpet weavers were being exploited by the traditional system.
In our visit we gained exposure to the amazing work of the organisation. This included meeting artisans and quality supervisors that have been able to refine their craft and increase and stablise their income.
Two key takeaways
What struck me about the organisation was two things.
Firstly, despite being primarily a for-profit organisation (with an India-based for-profit, US-based for-profit and an India-based non-profit), Jaipur Rugs has focused on providing better opportunities, income, and work for carpet weavers, using a business approach. Coming from a development sector perspective, it's inspiring to see businesses that so effectively merge social impact with their work, and do so at massive scale.
Secondly, the organisation, as it has grown, has faced challenges in instilling the founder's values into employees, as well as finding new, passionate staff to meet its growing needs. It was clear that in a small organisation, where each employee is able to interact with the founder and visionary, this is relatively easy. When an organisation reaches the size of Jaipur Rugs (350 people), and is looking at succession planning, this becomes more difficult.
I will never forget meeting such an inspiring social entrepreneur and seeing such incredible work at scale.
- Kelly LauberGlobal Director of Strategic PlanningNike Corporate Responsibility"The experience was amazing!"
"The journey had a profound impact for our organization. It helped re-focus our social investment strategy, moving from simply check writing to more of a social venture capitalist approach."