What is Prokritee?

Prokritee (meaning "nature" in Bangla) is a service based agency that provides managerial, product design and development and marketing assistance to organizations in Bangladesh. Prokritee manages 8 Handicraft Enterprises and helps other groups to sell their products in local and foreign markets upholding Fair Trade standards.

Prokritee and its 8 enterprises provide jobs for poor rural women. The women who work for the enterprises are widows, divorcees or head-of-households with little or no income. By providing jobs for women, Prokritee is able to improve the women's standard of living and help them send their children to school. Now they are able to look at the future with hope and happiness, instead of poverty and despair.

Prokritee is created by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in 2001 to independently manage the 8 job creation enterprises with its own management and organized structure. The enterprises are located in different parts of the country and were set up by MCC during the period 1977-1999. Each enterprise is individually supervised by a Project Manager with the help of a Producer Management Committee (PMC).

Prokritee, having its central office in Dhaka, markets the products made by the enterprises (and other like-minded groups not associated with MCC) through its marketing arms, which are termed as Export Marketing and Local Marketing.

Export Marketing is authorized to look after the matters related to export the products to all over the world whereas the Local Marketing's entity is the sole location for selling the products locally through its marketing outlet 'Source' in Dhaka.

In addition Prokritee has a design department, which helps the enterprises in combining the skill of the producers with the needs of customers. The design department is also committed to develop designs based on the cultural heritage of Bangladesh.

Prokritee's Goals

A. Income-Generating Projects
Creating, promoting and assisting income-generating projects that:

  • are operated and managed to benefit the producers
  • adhere to good safety and environmental standards
  • are or have the potential to become self reliant

B. Women's Employment
Hiring Women employees who:

  • are head-of-households (widows, divorcees, or separated)
  • have little, if any income
  • are landless with few or no assets
  • are primarily rural

C. Skills Development
Providing training to increase the skills of personnel within income-generating enterprises.

Prokritee's Enterprises

Surjosnato Coconut Products: Started in 1977 in the Ramganj area of District Laxmipur. Initially established as an enterprise for solar-drying fruits and vegetables, Surjosnato later settled on drying coconut as the most marketable and profitable product. Women clean, grate preserve and solar-dry the shredded coconut. From the discarded husk of the coconut, fiber is removed which is spun into rope and made into floor mats, door mats and wall hangings.

Bagdha Enterprise: Located on a river in the village of Bagdha, District Barisal, the enterprise first began with making jute and hemp rope and twine in 1982. Three years later a woodworking component was added. Bagdha women produce balls of hemp twine in many different colours and sizes, wooden toys, twine purses and bath mitts and much more.

Jobarpar Enterprise: Started in 1984 in Agailjhara region of Barisal District for spinning twine and processing coconut but were not profitable. After 5-6 years of experiment and struggle Jobarpar women started using water hyacinth, a common water weed clogging waterways all over the region, as a raw material to make twine and handmade paper. Jobarpar is now known for its water hyacinth baskets, Jewelry, wrapping paper, greeting cards and paper angels.

Keya Palm Handicrafts: A group of seven women in 1987 learned to weave bracelets, pencil holders, napkin rings and baskets out of Keya leaves and Palm leaves. The most popular product is the star streamer, which now decorates rooms and Christmas trees all over the world. The enterprise is located in the Barisal region, a lovely green paradise of rivers and rice fields, where palm trees grow in abundance.

Shuktara Handmade Paper Project: Shuktara started production in 1989 in the district town of Feni and is one of the first productive handmade paper enterprises in Bangladesh. Shuktara's producers are very skilled in making jute handmade paper and paper products like decorated cards, photo albums, gift boxes, greeting cards, stationery sets and wrapping papers.

Biborton Handmade Paper Project: Started in 1993 in Agailjhara of Barisal district. Biborton women make paper out of the most plentiful natural fibers available in the Agailjhara region - water hyacinth. Using the water hyacinth paper, women make photo frames, greeting cards, photo albums, note pads and many other unique and attractive products.

Bonoful Handmade Paper Products: Bonoful was established in 1995 in Muktagacha of Mymensingh district to meet the increasing demand for handmade paper. The enterprise produces paper out of a variety of locally available materials: hemp, wheat-straw, pineapple leaves and cotton waste from the garment industry. Bonoful women now offer a unique range of photo albums, greeting cards, gift bags and specialty boxes.

Hajiganj Handicrafts: Started in 1999 in Hajiganj village of Nilphamari district, which is one of the poorest areas in Bangladesh where people are mostly dependent on hiring out to rich farmers who pay very low wages. Hajiganj women are trained in making Kaisa grass crafting baskets of different shapes and sizes.

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