Social entrepreneur, and founder of Jaipur Rugs.
Social entrepreneur Nand Kishore Chaudhary is no stranger to working from home. He started his career selling shoes in his father’s shop, and declined the offer to join a nationalised bank to strike out on his own. Now he runs a business working with over 40,000 rug weavers, spanning over 700 locations and selling to 60 different countries.
NK formed his company, Jaipur Rugs, with a $200 loan from his dad, but was struck by the class system in India that drew strict divisions between his cast and the cast of his weavers. When he began to expand outside of Jaipur, he was advised against working with a Gujarati tribe.
> People can beat you, people can kill you. They are the tribal people, and they are not very welcoming to the outsider.
Undaunted, NK sought advice from a friend and mentor, who encouraged him to work with the tribe, but with love, compassion and empathy to counteract the experiences of exploitation the tribe had faced in the past. NK ended up staying for nine years, training fifteen thousand Gujarati tribespeople in the art of rug-making.
> I’m a weaver, so you are going to study in America as the daughter of a weaver, and never forget this.
In the intervening years, NK fathered three daughters. The idea that he didn’t have any sons was viewed as an “impurity” by members of his family, so NK went back to his mentor who advised him to redouble the care and attention he was already showing his girls, treating them with the same respect as he might a son.
> We sell the stories, we sell the experiences, and our carpet is free.
NK saw his business from the beginning as having two important endpoints: that of the consumer and of the weaver, and that it was his mission to connect the two. In this way, the lives of the weavers who work part-time to produce a rug that can take up to six months to finish, are an inextricable part of the product.
> The search for divine soul
After becoming dissatisfied with what he saw as unconscious behaviour and negativity, NK worked on reframing his thoughts and reflecting on his actions, which flowed into the business and resulted in the renaming of his HR department to “the search for divine soul”. He encouraged his team to focus on the inward qualities of job candidates, rather than the outward expression of clothing and presentation.
He offers his advice on increasing self-awareness, and developing practise along with furthering knowledge, gives us his take on meditation, and emphasises the importance of love as a driving factor in what we do.
Graham Allcott is the founder of time management training company Think Productive.
This podcast is produced by Radio Burrito.
Graham Allcott: 6 Weeks to Ninja
NK Chaudhary on Wikipedia
The Healing Organization, by Raj Sisodia and Michael Gelb
The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, by CK Prahalad
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