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Khaloom

Khaloom creates zero-waste production cycles and local employment by upcycling textile waste via traditional handcrafting techniques.

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Explain your project idea in two sentences.

Khaloom combines traditional spinning and weaving techniques with modern recycling techniques to upcycle fabric waste into high quality fabrics. We sell the fabrics to Western and Indian brands.

What is your organization name? Explain your organization in one sentence.

Enviu Foundation Netherlands. Enviu co-creates and develops social start-ups world wide.

Is this project idea new for you or your organization? If no, how much have you already executed on?

Enviu has over 10 years of experience in the co-creation and development of social start-ups. Enviu has been involved in the start-up of around 25 companies.

Khaloom has been initiated in 2015. We have developed the technique required to upcycle cotton waste to high quality handcrafted fabrics.

What is the problem you aim to solve with this idea? How would you define this problem as urgent and a priority in your target community?

We aim to decrease the ecological footprint of the garment industry and increase the use of ethical practices in the garment industry. We aim to help our customers, the brands, to distinguish themselves with their marketing and product.

What is the timeline for your project idea? What are the key steps for implementation in the next 1-3 years?

We have developed the recycling techniques required for our project. We have performed an initial market research. In the next year, we want to set up our first production unit and start sales of around 2,000 meter fabric per month, employing 60 spinners and weavers. We intend to scale this to 20,000 meter fabric per month, employing 600 spinners and weavers by the end of the third year.

Describe the individual or team that will implement this idea (if a partnership, please explain breakdown of responsibility).

Jesse van de Zand: former Delhi based entrepreneur, heads project
Anurag Jain: designer. Product manager
Raghu Dharmaraju: former COO of medium-sized social pharma company. Business strategy expert
Rubie Crevel: former eco consult, heads EU sales
Prasanna Colluru: designer with MBA. Advisor

What do you need the most support with in this project idea?

  • Business Development/Partnerships

What is your primary goal over the next 6 weeks of Refinement?

  • Better understand my user or community

How do you currently measure (or plan to measure) results for this project?

We plan to measure the results for this project by (i) meters of fabric produced; and (ii) number of female workers trained and employed.
Per meter of fabric produced, we save around 250 litres of water as compared to virgin cotton. Every female worker employed will help a household of approximately five people.

How has your project proposal changed due to your user research during the Beneficiary Feedback Phase?

Speaking with potential customers and others in the fashion industry has taught us the following:
• Decreasing the ecological footprint of their supply chain is a higher priority than we expected.
• We understand how the design and production cycles of brands are established and the key players to interact with.
• We have been able to gain an insight into the willingness to pay for the fabrics.

(Optional) What are some of your still unanswered questions or concerns about this idea?

Where and if to strike a balance between - The need to develop a unique design signature for our products versus collaborating with brands to design specifically for them.
Meaning – Be as white label as possible, or be a Vlisco. Which will enable us to maximise sales and impact.

The size of the global apparel business is growing and is expected to generate double digit growth between now and 2020. However, in its current mode of production, the apparel business is resulting in negative social and ecological externalities. A large share of textiles, are not consumed, and end up as waste:  15% of fabric intended for clothing ends up as waste on the cutting floor; of all clothing produced, 30% is sold at full price, 30% on sale, and 40% goes waste.

India is the second largest textile manufacturer in the world. Besides being a prominent player in textile manufacturing, India also holds a top position in textile recycling. A significant portion of the value added across each stage of manufacturing is lost during the traditional recycling process. This essentially means that most textile waste is ‘down-cycled’ into products such as blankets and insulation material.

The Indian textile industry also has a long history of poor pay and poor working conditions. The mechanised part of the textile industry directly competes with the 4.3 Million Indian handloom industry workers, of whom several are women. Consequently, a lot of these women have become unemployed. Recent estimates hold that about 57% of all Indian weavers now live below the poverty line, and many of them are burdened by debt.

Khaloom converts the problem of large volumes of production waste and the stressful living conditions of workers in the textile sector into a social business opportunity. Khaloom produces sustainable fabric made from recycled textiles by using traditional Indian hand-spinning and handloom weaving techniques. In this way, Khaloom adds value to waste, and creates high-quality fabrics that can be injected back into the primary apparel value chain. By combining upcycling with craftsmanship, Khaloom creates a unique value proposition that taps into the growing market for sustainable textiles. 

Khaloom provides employment opportunities for women in rural areas, allowing women to stay with their families and improve their relative incomes. Furthermore, Khaloom proves that globalized production chains can be complemented with decentralized upcycling by artisan networks, in which women play a central role. Khaloom’s decentralized set-up is inspired by cooperative models, which would ensure that labour conditions for the workers will be safeguarded - even during scaling of the venture.

Explain your idea

Global textile brands most often produce their fabrics in emerging economies, like India. As a result, these emerging economies are faced with the challenge of managing the increasing amount of textile waste. Khaloom provides a unique solution by collecting post-production textile waste and up-cycling it into fabrics via traditional spinning and weaving techniques. Khaloom starts in India, but the business model is designed in a way that it can be replicated to other emerging economies with a history of traditional fabric making techniques, and a sufficient amount of textile waste.

The process of Khaloom is as follows:
A partner of Khaloom collects and shreds the textile waste into fibre. Afterwards, the fibre is spun into yarn in one of the Khaloom-hubs, located in the surroundings of textile centres in India. The yarn will be distributed among weavers, also working from Khaloom-hubs and/or homes. Next to its hubs, Khaloom will set up training centres to train women on spinning and weaving techniques.

India has a long history of unique weaving techniques, which enables Khaloom to create a wide assortment of fabrics. The fabrics, in turn, are injected back in the production chain of the global textile brands. In this way, Khaloom assists global brands to achieve their sustainability goals, such as exclusive use of fabrics with recycled content and zero-waste production cycles. Moreover, Khaloom adds value to the production waste of the textile industry and therefore enlarges the revenues derived from textile materials, which, through Khaloom's business model, are paid to handloom workers.

Khaloom ran a pilot, in which it produced 200 metres of fabric with 50% recycled content. Weavers, spinners and global textile brands responded very positively to both the way of working and the end-products. The spinners and weavers that have been working for Khaloom during the pilot keep asking for more work, as they received higher wages and could work from the rural areas, where they were originally from. A significant amount of textile brands have shown their interest in Khaloom's fabrics, and provided valuable input on how to further improve the fabrics to meet market demand.

Khaloom is currently in the last part of validation, and a few steps away from becoming a venture. The last validation phase is about product development and fine tuning the business model.

Product development: Broaden the assortment of yarn and fabrics by mechanising parts of the spinning and weaving processes, and experimenting with a wider variety of patterns and ways of dyeing.

Business development: Validate which parts of the value chain can be decentralised, and which ones operate best in a centralised manner, and design scaling strategy.

After these last steps of validation, Khaloom will be set up as a standalone venture and will increase its positive impact on the environment and the workers in the textile industry.

Who Benefits?

India has a long tradition of handloom workers, the majority of whom are underpaid or working under unsafe working conditions. Several of these workers are women, who need to support their families with their incomes. These workers benefit from Khaloom, because Khaloom provides an alternative employment opportunity in the textile industry, which pays better wages and enables them to work in the hubs of Khaloom or in a decentralized manner from their homes. In this way, Khaloom increases the relative income of women living in rural areas in India, and provides an opportunity to raise their families outside of the city. Additionally, Khaloom trains workers from the textile industry to work in an independent way and improve their traditional craftsman skills. Overall, Khaloom sets an example for a craftsmanship-based upcycling systems that collaborates with highly mechanized production chains, starting with the textile sector.

How is your idea unique?

Khaloom upcycles waste into new fabrics through a strategic combination of mechanised and centuries-old handcrafting techniques; while most competing recycling companies use chemical or solely industrialised recycling processes. This preserves traditional craftsmanship and boosts local employment opportunities.

Khaloom is experimenting with a hub-and-spoke production network that will enable the creation of jobs for women and youth in rural areas and ensure good working conditions with apt compensation for their skills. This would prevent mass urbanisation and enable them to enhance their standards of living. This model is flexible, can be scaled to meet market demand and replicated to several countries involved in apparel manufacturing.

Khaloom creates textiles that have a wide variety of applications and can be reinserted into the production cycles of global brands; recycling efforts usually tend to focus on creating a few niche products, or large volumes of commodity product

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Piloting: I have started to implement my solution as a whole with a first set of real users.

Tell us more about you

Enviu builds multinational social enterprises that drive system change. Our social enterprises provide access to an improved quality of life and habitat for large groups of marginalized people. We focus on providing access to finance and income, improving food systems and promoting the circular economy. Our ambition towards 2020: to positively impact the lives of at least five million marginalized people by delivering multinational social ventures that drive system change.
Enviu was founded in 2004, has a pipeline of 10-15 scalable ventures and has collaborated with over 30,000 people worldwide through co-creative processes.
Our portfolio includes, among others: Three Wheels United (India), People Pensions Holding (Ghana), ReFlow Filament (Netherlands, Tanzania, India), Khaloom (India), Discovered (Netherlands) and On the Job (Netherlands).

Enviu works for and with renowned partners from the private sector, foundations, international NGOs and governments, who share our ambition to improve the quality of life of millions (e.g. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, WWF, Achmea, Tech for Trade, Adessium Foundation).
Our approach to impact in short: from issue to idea, from idea to social multinational enterprise that drives system change. In our work we use co-creation and the lean start-up methodology, to be able to develop solutions supported by key stakeholders, efficiently (with minimal wasted resources) and with the highest chance of success.

We are HQ'ed in the Netherlands and have a presence across 4 continents. We can, therefore, build strong relationships with local communities of our beneficiaries that form test markets for our ventures, and have quick access to relevant local stakeholders. Enviu has offices in Rotterdam (head office), Bangalore (India) and San Francisco (USA), and operations in Ghana and Kenya.
http://www.enviu.org.

For Khaloom, we are validating a social business model that connects textile upcycling and craftsmanship with globalized, apparel and textile production value chains.

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

12 comments

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Team

Hi Rubie and Team! We’re excited to share with you feedback and questions from our expert reviewers. We encourage you to think about this feedback as you continue to improve and refine your idea. You are welcome to respond in the comments section and/or to incorporate feedback into the text of your idea. Your idea and all associated comments will all be reviewed during the final review process.

Based on expert career, previous work and field experience, is this a new approach or bold way of answering the challenge question:
• Emergent and interesting. While there are a number of projects that use recycled fabric in India (including Saris), this project aims to re-weave the recycled material into cloth. I would love to see them push their thinking and consider more deeply policy implications, market implications, strategic partners, cultural and social influences on their work.

Desirability and Viability of proposal:
• Desirable? Yes. However the operational and logistical challenges of scaling up are immense; how to take cottage industries to level that can supply international RMG sector needs, with workplace and product quality assured.

Feasibility of proposal (is this an idea that could be brought to life?):
• Certainly there is growing global demand for this type of product, but there are many feasibility challenges that are situation specific. The proposal might be strengthened if they addressed those above, or clarified that they are considering these moving pieces as they scale and aim for sustainability.

Other questions or suggestions our experts felt would support the assessment or success of your idea:
• Great work. An ecosystem map might prove helpful. Who is else is doing this locally or around the world. What types of problems or nuances are they coming up against?

In case you missed it, check out this Storytelling Toolkit for inspiration for crafting strong and compelling stories: http://ideo.to/DXld5g Storytelling is an incredibly useful tool to articulate an idea and make it come to life for those reading it. Don’t forget - June 16 at 11:59PM PST is your last day to make changes to your idea on the OpenIDEO platform.
 
Have questions? Email us at bridgebuilder@ideo.com.
 
Looking forward to reading more!

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Team

Q: Emergent and interesting. While there are a number of projects that use recycled fabric in India (including Saris), this project aims to re-weave the recycled material into cloth. I would love to see them push their thinking and consider more deeply policy implications, market implications, strategic partners, cultural and social influences on their work.

A:
Policy implications: if recycling is happening at all, currently this is almost completely down-cycling. Textile waste is used as filling for pillows or to produce low quality blankets or furnishings. This extends the life cycle of the textile, but it is not an effective use of resources – cotton isn’t used the way cotton normally would. If we can show that it is feasible to use textiles circular, we can lobby with policy makers to make it mandatory for garment factories to use a certain % of recycled fabrics. This is a long shot, but given the water shortage in South India and the large amounts of water that cotton requires we believe it should be feasible.

Market implications:
• We are increasing the engagement of brands in the sustainability of their supply chain and as such creating circularity awareness. We enable textile products manufacturers and brands to effectively use their production waste
• In the Netherlands the sector is developing a memorandum of understanding in which the sector tries to set certain criteria to enforce better environmental and social performances of the sector. We will be part of this conversation and since we can show how production can also take place, we will be able to produce a strong case for more sustainable and employee-friendly practices.
• We are building new value chains in which recycling is combined with handloom techniques. In this way, we stimulate the market for handloom techniques and prove their value in a circular economy.
• We are building evidence that mechanized value chains can collaborate with low-tech upcycling value chains. This may set an example for other value chains on how to manage residual material streams in emerging economies in a way that also stimulates the local economy.


Strategic partners:
• We are partnering with designers and brands to launch separate lines with our fabric and communicate the brand of Khaloom to the end customer. This way end customers will know what the origin of the fabric is. We expect the first such partnership to start in July this year. Such partnerships will allow us a steady source of revenue
• We are partnering with local government bodies such as the Weaver Services Association in Bengaluru.
• NGOs to reach out to weavers / set up weave clusters and ensure good working conditions.
• Large apparel manufacturing units to gain access to (production) waste cotton and linen
• NGOs to collect post-consumer waste.

Cultural/social influences: currently there is some stigma in India about using recycled products. By making high quality products, we will show that recycled products can be on par with other products in terms of quality. By partnering with renowned designers we will even show that recycled products can have a “wow” factor.

We combine recycling with handloom techniques. Our pilot showed that women feel empowered and proud to practice traditional skills, which regained their value in a newly build value chain.


Q: Desirability and Viability of proposal:
• Desirable? Yes. However the operational and logistical challenges of scaling up are immense; how to take cottage industries to level that can supply international RMG sector needs, with workplace and product quality assured.

A: In brief:
- Product quality can be assured by people with expertise and experience.
- We are currently setting up our first unit, and will be exploring whether decentralized or centralized expansion better suits our production plans.
- What helps a lot in scaling is the enormous amount of waste and the widely availability of workers that are willing to work for us.

While at a smaller scale the quality can be managed easily, indeed when scaling these will become quite a challenge. In order to tackle these challenges we are hiring people with a large experience of fabric and garments design and production who have been working in the industry in India for 8+ years. We have already put out the job profile and received an amazing number of responses with senior experiences and are about to finalize the first candidates. Many people in the industry feel that things have to change and are willing to contribute to this. They too believe that an initiative like Khaloom can have a major impact in the industry.

With industry experts on board who have set up and operated large production units and were responsible for meeting international quality standards, we believe we should be able to set up our production to meet the same criteria.

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Team

Q: Feasibility of proposal (is this an idea that could be brought to life?):
• Certainly there is growing global demand for this type of product, but there are many feasibility challenges that are situation specific. The proposal might be strengthened if they addressed those above, or clarified that they are considering these moving pieces as they scale and aim for sustainability.

A: Our current team and the new team members of Khaloom are mostly based in India, experienced in setting up businesses in India and experienced in the industry. Apart from this, in the Netherlands we have two team members, one of which has a background in the fashion industry in India and the other member focuses on sales in the Western market.

Hence, we are aware of the local challenges. You already have a local network with local governments, waste collectors and developing garment network. And perhaps recap our USP: combining ecological with social sustainability and produce high-end fabrics

Q: Great work. An ecosystem map might prove helpful. Who is else is doing this locally or around the world. What types of problems or nuances are they coming up against?

A: Thanks ! We have made a map of the ecosystem in India.

Most handloom initiatives are performed by NGOs or smaller communities and hence none of these are scalable. None of the initiatives combine recycling and handloom. The problems they generally face are as follows:
• NGO mode: the initiatives depend on grants to scale. Work attitude is low, since there is no incentive to produce a certain quality and quantity.
• Garments/ furnishings are not properly designed. The fabric may be handwoven, but if the design of the garment/ furnishing is not in line with the requirements of the end customer, the customer will not be interested in purchasing.
• Small communities lack the knowhow and resources to brand and market their products. They do not know what the modern market requires.
• Small communities depend on middle men to sell their produce. Hence, most of the margin goes to the middle man.

There are very few recycling initiatives in general, most of which either focus on post-consumer waste and/ or producing finalized garments. Some of the issues they face:
• Quality control with post consumer waste is very difficult since the input differs a lot.
• Launching a new fashion brand requires many years of branding and marketing.
• There is no incentive for existing brands to purchase recycled products if it adds no value to their product.

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