Good Businesses 2014

Preserving the fabric

Impulse Social Enterprises is ensuring sustainable livelihoods in the northeast

Photographs by Biju Boro

It takes us just under seven hours to cover the 250-odd-km rocky, hilly, busy route between Shillong, Meghalaya and Panbari village in Golaghat district, Assam. At the end of the backbreaking journey lies the home of master artisan Rekha Doley, not very far from the tourist-friendly Kaziranga National Park. Doley’s home is a picture of idyllic rural life, complete with a set of excited farm animals, a changhar or stilt house common in inundated Assamese villages and a khal or lion loom — so called for the teeth that draw the yarn in — occupying pride of place on the porch of the thatched mud and bamboo structure. Doley, who used the loom to stitch her own and her family’s clothes for years, now uses it to make multi-purpose scarves and other fabrics for the Shillong-based Impulse Social Enterprises (ISE), thereby supplementing her husband’s schoolteacher income and supporting a family of 11. “It wasn’t possible for me to travel for work, so I’m happy I can earn at home thanks to Impulse. I love learning new patterns and travelling with other weavers for training to the city,” she smiles.