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Bodhi Case Study

Context of the case study

Bodhi – a small block printing workshopin Vadodara, India that had showcased excellence in all three aspects of sustainability – environmental, social and economic since its inception in 1986.

SDGs covered:SDG 8: decent work and SDG 12: responsible consumption and production.

Organization background and motivation

Bodhi is a small enterprise of artisans excelling in the craft of hand block printing, hand screen printing and embroidery located in Vadodara, Gujarat. It was established by Mala Sinha in 1986.In the early eighties, design as a career was just being established; fresh graduates from Indian design schools turned to entrepreneurship to make a living, as well as create jobs. Bodhi’s operations began with small scale printing of table mats and napkins. Bodhi is rooted in the principles of frugality and ethics—conservation of resources and fair treatment of workers have always been the guiding mantra

Challenges and solutions

Bodhi is situated outside traditional craft clusters like Ahmedabad; common infrastructure, market, etc. are not available. As Bodhi grew, to maintain a large production capacity involving many craftsmen and workers, it had become dependent on a single international buyer for orders. To preserve its artisanal rootsand its core values of frugality and sustainability Bodhi scaled down and now runs as a small organization focused on the principles of circular economy. It now caters to the domestic market.

In the initial years, there were regulatory challenges too, as environmental and pollution control laws were made by the state government but there was no guidance for implementation.

Benefits of a sustainable/circular business model

Bodhi’s operations are focused on reducing energy and water footprint. Solar energy is utilized for baking pigment-printed fabrics, and heating water. Water consumption is at 30% of industrial standard. Rainwater is harvested, which is used in the production process as well as to recharge groundwater.

Rainwater harvesting storage tanks at Bodhi Rainwater harvesting storage tanks at Bodhi

Bodhi has installed a bio-remediation facility, where waste water from the printing and dyeing processes is treated by:

  • Flocculation
  • Removal of sludge
  • Bio-remediation by passing it through a microbe rich growing medium with Canna plantation
  • Sand and pebble filtration

Canna plantation on microbial treatment tank Canna plantation on microbial treatment tank

All workers and artisans are provided fixed salaries, rather than on a piece-rate basis. This ensures better quality of work, as well as provides income security to all employees. Employment is permanent; as opposed to contractual work which is seasonal and demand based, which makes it difficult for workers to make a living during lean periods. Bodhi’s model counters such difficulties.

Many of the artisans now working at Bodhi joined as unskilled helpers and have learned their craft on the job. All the women who embroider for them are trained to embroider by their team of trainers and supervisors, and the work is given to them at their homes and collected from them when finished.

Bodhi believes in establishing long-term relationships with their employees, craftsmen and traders.

What didn’t go well for Bodhi

Partnership with global brands and certifying agencies didn’t go well. Following were the challenges faced:

  • Working with Brands requires a lot of paper work and documentation. If the promoter’s or the creative people get involved with it, it takes up almost all their time, and initially it is not possible to employ a team just to take care of the paper work.
  • Brands typically do not pay for samples, and sampling can go on for months engaging the best craftsmen and designers. This is an extremely expensive exercise which is not acknowledged or paid for.
  • Certifying agencies have an attitude of superiority. They assume that it is their job to train small organizations on how to work with the Brands or the International market and how to comply with the (supposedly) high ethical and moral standards that they (the Brands) have.
  • While they expect total transparency from the supplier the Brands themselves work in utmost secrecy not willing to share any and information about themselves or their pricing policies.
  • Brands do not sustain production in craft clusters. They move with fashion and boost and drop artisanal production as per fashion cycles. This causes a lot of harm to craft clusters.

For further information, please contact

Ms. Devyani Hari
Director (Programmes)
Email [email protected]
Phone +91 (11) 41088853

Ms. Nitya Chhiber
Programme Officer
Email [email protected]
Phone +91 (11) 41088853


Clients & Partners

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