As India continues to struggle with the COVID-19 crisis, with lack of protective masks and PPE (personal protective equipment), citizens are joining hands with the government to fight the situation together. Many private players have been doing their best to manufacture and distribute the masks and PPE, and disregarding the costs associated with it, a majority is providing it for free to those in need.
Gurgaon-based women’s fashion brand AKS Clothing is among them. The company recently donated more than 3000 PPE kits to the sanitation workers, the Police force and the Private Guard and distributed 50,000 masks (for free) in Jaipur. The company is manufacturing PPE Kits in their factory using their in-house design.
AKS founder and CEO Nidhi Yadav has told MAKERS India that the team is collaborating with the Haryana government now and will soon start working with Maharashtra government too. She stresses that the company is paying attention to the workforce, who are manufacturing these items, in terms of keeping up the norms of social distancing.
“We have our local units in Delhi-Gurgaon, where the workers are provided food and stay during this period. We are utilising only half of the facilities at these manufacturing centres so as to make physical distancing easier,” says Nidhi.
She added that since sourcing of new fabric is not possible due to the nation-wide lockdown, the masks are made out of the surplus fabric left over after their last segment of garment manufacturing. (This would have otherwise been sold to small sellers in kilograms.)
According to Nidhi, this initiative – aptly named Corona Kawach (meaning protection from Coronavirus) – is also an effort to keep the labourers engaged. With reports of domestic violence rising due to the lockdown, this is particularly relevant. Nidhi adds, “If they do not have work every day, they will be in deep financial trouble and will have to return to their native villages where they will have even lesser options for a livelihood.”
The brand, which counts on online commerce for its business, has not been able to conduct sales for more than a month due to the ongoing crisis. But Nidhi says that even after regular e-commerce restarts (whenever that is), the team intends to go ahead with the manufacture of these protective gears for at least three more months.
“We have a capacity of 150 personnel per unit; but right now we have only 45 personnel working in each unit so as to keep them safe as well. Three units are working on producing these essential items now,” Nidhi notes.
While there is no official timeline on when the lockdown will be entirely lifted, she is confident that the workforce – which is well-trained by now – can rise up to the occasion.