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An environmentalist promoting a sustainable lifestyle through eco-friendly products

When an aspirant considers social entrepreneurship, he/she strives to connect to their roots and nature. It allows them to see beyond the bottom line and draws people together around a shared vision for the future. Environmental issues are at the forefront of social entrepreneurship in emerging countries like India. Despite progress on multiple fronts, the use of plastic and other synthetic materials are raising concerns.

According to a survey by FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry), India’s per capita consumption is expected to rise from 11 to 15 kg in 2015 to 20 kg in 2022, with roughly 43% of that being single-use packaging with low recovery rates. However, choosing natural products over plastic can be a huge silver lining. Stating this, Indian handicraft products draw their inspiration mostly from nature.

Traditional craftwork has been deeply rooted in up-cycling, material optimization, and waste avoidance for millennia. Whether it’s a Charpoy made of bamboo trunks, a Mooda made of flat grass and natural fibre, or even a Jhadoo, we find environmental elements in every home. This portrays the meticulous efforts of the artisans from all corners of the country.

As a matter of fact, their craft and products are attracting entrepreneurs who envision a brighter and healthier future for our nation. Ankit Khaire, a young and dynamic environmentalist, is amongst such visionaries. The following article is a thorough review of Ankit’s mission, vision, and aspirations, as well as the scalable impact he strives to make with his idea.

A native of Gujarat’s Vadodara, Ankit had a childhood bug for starting something of his own. Although he could get a good job in reputed companies and have had a comfortable career, he never sought a mediocre lifestyle. However, he lacked proper guidance and didn’t have a dedicated path to stride upon.

In-between his graduation, Ankit even built a restaurant discount app for local users and failed terribly. “I wanted to build something that reflected my passion and justified my education,” he says. His light bulb moment came when he was pursuing Masters in Environmental Sciences. Ankit found a variety of handmade products in the local market made from bamboo. Needless to say, he was captivated by them. And he planned a green business that would sell and market these handmade things and honour the artisans who created them.

Also, he was aware of the complex predicaments earth was enduring because of environmental issues and that these products will propagandize a positive change. He wanted to get on with the thing (Bamboo) that had driven him into this setting. Ankit discovered many craftspeople in North East India crafting a basket of varieties of bamboo products. After a lot of market research, analyzing needs, trends and sustainable methods, he founded Cadillac Impex–A B2B business venture to supply eco-friendly products worldwide. He finally found his calling, which aligned his career with a higher purpose.

Ankit’s conquest in the corporate world hasn’t been simple by any means, despite his conscientious aim. Within a few months of inception, COVID-19 arrived on his doorstep – and it took its toll. Simultaneously, building a brand presence was another tough nut to crack. However, Ankit wasn’t here to fail for the second time. He began with bamboo-made products, building a diversified portfolio catalogued into tableware, home decor, lighting, drinkware, corporate gifting, baskets, bio-degradable disposable, alongside daily use products etc…

With time, he added more varieties of products made from kauna grass, wood, coconut shell, sugarcane bagasse, terracotta, palm leaf, etc. But how did he create a niche for his portfolio? All the products are sustainable, non-toxic and biodegradable. The portfolio also dispels the idea that eco-friendly products are costly and limited in variety. Apart from that, Cadillac Impex is contributing to the preservation of India’s handicraft legacy while also providing employability for millenials and tribal people. It also encourages clients to share their ideas to avail designed products that match their requirements.

The products are supplied through retailers across India and exported to foreign economies. A striking fact is that it sells and promotes only made-in-India products and does not import or sell any foreign products. The ingenuity is proving to be a viable alternative to plastic while also allowing natural waste to flourish. With inventive products, a sustainable portfolio and a dedicated in-house team, Cadillac Impex spreads awareness of adapting and moving towards an eco-friendly lifestyle.

What’s a curse for some is often a blessing for others. We can say the same for Cadillac Impex. Although COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown hurdled growth, it provided the time for in-house developments. Ankit says that the period enabled him to build the brand’s website, generate a pre-inception awareness, and ready his team. Most importantly, the period helped him bring together a like-minded and adept team whose expertise instils trust in the clients.

Overall, amidst distress, the brand armed itself with the resources that propel growth post-lockdown. And fortunately, its wheels are moving at a steady pace, growing in all aspects of the business. The prestigious media platform Silicon India also recognized Ankit’s efforts enlisting his company as “10 Most Promising Green Product Companies – 2020.”

Cadillac Impex is reverberating a positive message across the global market. Even amid disruptions, it generated rewarding revenue in retail markets and exports. And it’s a critical feather in the cap, for the entire market was in disruptions – this, in a meaningful way, complements its team. As a company, it has a small team of diverse talents, including marketing professionals, suppliers and more.

The company maintains a flat hierarchy, and work is distributed evenly as per responsibilities. It’s also important to note, Cadillac Impex works with many self-help groups and NGOs to spread awareness. Ankit also takes part in initiatives aimed at raising environmental awareness and promoting eco-friendly products.

Now, to step up the game, Cadillac Impex will enter the retail market. “While we provide and export the finest quality in products through B2B and retail setting, it’s important to have a regular cashflow,” says Ankit. For this, he even received an investment offer from a foreign client. However, the proposed amount wasn’t enough to sustain his vision; hence, he humbly denied it.

Cadillac Impex is still bootstrapped, but it’s developing proprietary goods using natural resources in over ten categories (bamboo, kauna grass, wood, coconut shell, sugarcane bagasse, terracotta, palm leaf, etc.). This will be available both online and offline and aid the development of a retail presence.

“It will also help us create sustainability and counter any uncertainties that may arise,” Ankit says.

“Students are our country’s future, and if at all possible, they should pursue entrepreneurship as a vocation.” Since I was a child, I’ve wanted to be one, because it elevates learning to a new level. Keep up with the market and concentrate on making a long-term impact with your offerings.”  – Ankit Khaire (Founder & Director)

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