Microspin is a disruptive technology of spinning, that brings a 21st century right-sized spinning mill accessible to a small business or a coalition of farmers. The cost of the Microspin technology enables a mill at a very small fraction of a standard textile spinning mill cost, with better fabrics and textures.
Right now it is cotton which is the main yarn being worked upon, but anything from silk waste, to hemp, to pineapple, to bamboo, to wool and multiple mixed and hybrid yarns are being tested.
Orders of the technology have been sent to rural cooperatives in India , to mainstream textile mills , to Philippines and deals in pipeline from US Universities to African farmers.
The small producers of cotton crops across the world , from Central Asia to farming communities in remote regions in Latin America and South East Asia are also possible markets.
Microspin , is the beginning of decolonization of the spinning process , on the basis of which Britain created the Industrial Revolution , by deliberately destroying Indian weavers and textile processes.
The decentralized spinning revolution has begun.
Integration of the value-chain has been recognized by experts as the route to profitability. But with an over-sized spinning mill, it is just not practical to integrate! The small spinning units of Microspin integrate naturally with the existing scales of production in the dyeing, sizing, warping and weaving segments of the value-chain – making for an efficient and lean production chain that is ready to target segmented high-value markets globally.
In a mature industry like textiles, it is rare to be original. But the Microspin patent has been upheld on all the 27 counts with the earliest resembling patent being as early as 2007, as per the International Patent Search Authority based in Vienna. Microspin has several more patents in the pipeline.
The Microspin yarn is naturally slubbed, in a manner different from mechanical slubs produced in the conventional industry. Further, the yarn has a characteristic “neppy” look with a semi-combed feel. These result in creating khadi-like and linen-like fabrics that are very soft, breathable and drape wonderfully.
Rajesh Pratap Singh Works, New Delhi
“Microspin fabrics have a great texture and we especially preferred their melange weaves.
The cloth has a character and life of its own and can render any garment rich due to its unique properties.
Made from fine soft cottons and blends, they have added to our collection.”
About Rajesh Pratap Singh :
Rajesh Pratap Singh is a textile designer known for his minimalism and understated design aesthetics,
with a sharp eye for detailing. Pratap’s exploration with fabric texturing and most prominently his creative usage of pintucks
has almost become synonymous to the label.
The key to his work lies in simplicity, clean cuts and flawless detailing.– Rajesh Pratap Singh
“Very good set up and quite impressed with this innovative model. It is one of the best socio-economic models backed by technology innovation and best approach of inclusive growth. Well managed unit which has potential to upscale to meet level of quality and innovation. Keep it up!! ”
– Dr. Naresh Tyagi, Vice President, Madura Garments
Ms. Anaka Narayanan, Brass Tacks, Chennai, Tamilnadu, India “What’s really special about this fabric is the texture and softness.
It has a drape that is a lot more fluid than cotton, and it feels soft to touch.
Our customers say that the fabric is very breathable, and we can vouch for how luxurious this fabric feels against skin.”
About Anaka Narayanan :
Anaka is a Textile designer who launched her own retail store called Brass Tacks
where she specialises in Indo-western clothing. – Brasstacks
Ms Sudekshina K
“As an artist I fell for this fabric at the first touch…
The “Tree of Life” literally started growing in my imagination,
and when working with something like ‘Microspin crafted yarn fabric’….
it compliments my work…becomes the perfect icing on the cake!!!”
About Sudekshina :
Sudekshina is a trained Mural painting artist.
She has innovated the art form by painting on saris and fabrics,
thereby taking the art form to a wider audience. – Mural Painting On Fabric
From Sunny Narang’s Facebook Pages :
10 February 2016
It is all happening here, in a small Indian village. A pathbreaking Disruption. In the heart of central India’s cotton growing district, infamous for its farmer suicides, yes, Vidarbha. A young engineer-innovator has joined hands with another young visionary cooperative leader. Together they are, truly, Making in India.
With women farmers, youth, disrupting a 200 years old colonial yarn-making technology, the basis of the now old, energy guzzling Industrial Revolution. Creating a new pipeline of people and processes. A possibility for famers to become manufacturing entrepreneurs.
Welcome to The World’s Smallest Integrated Textile Mill in Buldana, India. Luring back the yarn from the archaic colonial technology, from the polluting, dirty urban Industrial hubs. Back to the villages, the farms. Where that fluffy white cotton is actually birthed. And to the people, the farmers who mother it.
Crafted Yarn™, straight from #FarmToWardrobe.
The Innovator-Entrepreneur : L Kannan aka PILA
The Visionary Co-op Leader : Dr. Sukesh Zamwar
‘Micro’ Film by Akanksha Joshi
Join the #MicrospinDisruption
10 February 2016
The whole story of ancient and medieval India on being a textile super-power was written by women’s fingers .
Till the Spinning Jenny invention in 1764 , it was millions of women spinning which provided the yarn that the Indian weavers made into beautiful fabrics .
Everything was Khadi till them. Hand-spun yarn.
The ‘Satanic Mills’ that wrote the Industrial Revolution took power away of creation from those women to the exploitative hubs of Manchester and de-Industrialised India .
That is why Gandhi used the ‘Charkha’ as the semiotic of the Indian freedom struggle.
Today almost 99.9% of Indian cotton yarn is made by less than 2,000 textile spinning mills.
All our ‘Handloom’ weavers use that absolutely centralized process made yarn.
The centralized Mill sector produced maybe 4% of our fabrics , Powerloom about 60-70 %, Handloom is about 10-12%, Hosiery is about 15-17%, Khadi is less than 0.1%.
So how does one take back the yarn-spinning back to the women and the farms ?
How does one re-write the story , so from where the yarn begins , it goes back ?
That is the story of Microspin.
The Short Yarn:
When a young engineer-innovator, who made the Indian ATM turns to solve the cotton-farmer value-addition issue, by giving them a technology that brings back spinning close to farm, reversing a 200 year colonial technology, that was the fore-runner of the Industrial Revolution in England, meets a visionary young cooperative leader who heads a billion US dollar credit coop in Vidarbha, Maharashtra, then what happens ?
The Microspin Disruption at Dongar Khandala , a village. The first integrated spinning weaving micro-mill in the world supported by the Buldana Urban Credit Cooperative. This mill costs 1% of a mainstream integrated mill, bringing to farmers a possibility of being manufacturing entrepreneurs, with an unique Crafted Yarn production process, a fabric that has texture, beauty and high quality dyeing.
This is a story of the disruption, that gives rural women and youth jobs where they live, while adding value to cotton farmers produce.
It humanises and makes more ecologically sustainable, the industrial innovation that disrupted the world 200 years ago.
It brings back, a full circle, the process of making the yarn, to the village.
From the centre of the colonial Empire, from the polluting dirty urban Industrial hubs, to where cotton is grown.
Benefiting those that live close to the soil.
And Make in India, with laughter and sharing.
How Microspin disrupts the whole spinning, weaving and garment manufacturing supply chain is by providing marginal and small farmer youth and rural women employment close to farm.
That benefits increase in women’s employment whose ratio has been falling with farm mechanisation and urbanisation as young village women will not go to cities and industrial hubs .
So Microspin is an employment-creating disruptive social technology, that also reduces carbon and water footprint of the whole cotton manufacturing chain, while adding value for both cotton farmers and creating a decentralized farm-resource processing and manufacturing system.
Overall, the labour force participation rate for women is falling: from 37% in 2004-05 to 29% in 2009-10.
In 2011-2012, women comprised 24.8% of all rural workers, down from 31.8% in 1972-73.
In 2011-2012, women comprised 14.7% of all urban workers, a small increase from 13.4% in 1972-73.
With decreasing farm size, the average being less than 1 hectare we need near-farm employment and Microspin fills that need. Our acreage has remained at 140 million hectares since 40 years but the number of farmers has increased from 70 million to 140 million. We are adding 10 million farmers every five years. With smaller land at disposal, there is a decrease in farmers capacity to invest in land. If these are not tackled now, it will be difficult to maintain agriculture as a feasible profession.
The longer yarn :
For thousands of years before the British came and replaced Khadi, India was the major source of the world’s clothing. This sustained dominance was made possible by our rural artisans who now use industrial spun yarn to produce Handlooms.
L Kannan thought it was the right place to be in to undo a historical wrong. That was how Kannan started working with Dastkar Andhra, a non-profit working with Handloom weavers based in Hyderabad.
Even today, textiles sector is one of the largest contributors to India’s exports with approximately 11 per cent of total exports. The textiles industry is also labour intensive and is one of the largest employers. The industry realised export earnings worth US$ 41.4 billion in 2014-15. The Indian textiles industry, currently estimated at around US$ 108 billion, is expected to reach US$ 223 billion by 2021.
The industry is the second largest employer after agriculture, providing employment to over 45 million people directly and 60 million people indirectly. The Indian Textile Industry contributes approximately 5 per cent to India’s gross domestic product (GDP), and 14 per cent to overall Index of Industrial Production (IIP).
More than 90 per cent of the industry is in the decentralised sector and functions in small units.
The only difference is in yarn production which happens in very large spinning mills while everything else is mostly in the small sector.
And cotton farming in India occupies 6 million cotton farming households (6% of Indian Farms) with over 12 million hectares ( almost 9% of acreage ). So cotton-farming and related activities provide employment to almost 25 million people .
In all the cotton-farming, processing, garment-manufacturing, fabric sector in India provides a sustainable livelihood to more than 80-100 million people !
The spinning technology has remained unchanged from the days of the Industrial Revolution. Cotton fibres were compacted traditionally into bales to transport from India and America to the mills in England. In the mills, the blocks were separated again without damaging the fibres. That is why the machines were very complex.
The question that bothered Kannan was what is the need to turn the cotton into bales where cotton is produced? He thought he should design a machine that suited the area that produces cotton. If you were to avoid the pressing of cotton into bales, you need a machine that is differently designed, not expensive but affordable to the small-scale operators.
As he had not received any investment from anyone to design and create the micro-spinning machines, he worked mainly on central government grants and the pilot project was supported by the Union Ministry for Rural Development.
He started Vortex, a private limited company, by borrowing Rs 100,000 from family and friends with the dream of solving many problems that rural India faces. Later he set up Fractal Foundation, a non-profit organisation, which took charge of the making of the low-cost, less energy-intensive micro-spinning machines. This technology received the Innovation Award conferred by the Marico Innovation Foundation.
Soon Kannan understood that if he had to scale up the design and manufacture, the process could not be run on a non-profit NGO model. He founded Microspin, a new for-profit company which would take over spinning machines from Fractal Foundation. It has received seed capital from RTBI (IITM’s Rural Technology and Business Incubator) and also a loan from the Technology Development Board of the Government of India.
But to carry on the R&D and build quality, service and scale he needed a lot more funding. NSDC (National Skills Development Corporation) was willing to give a low-interest debt against equity. This is where Anglian Futures Advisory moved in. They created a coalition of investors who would put in Venture Capital to support this radical technology which is redefining Indian spinning with creativity and equity.
Microspin is looking to raise sales and turnover and even start exporting the Microspinning machinery to anywhere in the world, where there is cotton farming, and historically in many places the spinning industry did not develop , like in Africa .
First of its kind,a micro-composite mill was inaugurated at Dongar Khandala, a small village in Buldana District of Vidarbha Region in Maharashtra .
Dr. Sukesh Zamwar the MD and CEO of Buldana Urban is the visionary who imagined the integrated spinning and weaving Microspin mill in Vidarbha as a disruptive innovation for the region’s cotton farmers .
Buldana Urban Co-Operative Credit Society Ltd. was established on 19th June 1986 at Buldana, with a capital of Rs.12,000/- and 72 members. Today it has 340 branches in 7 states of India. It has received the highest award for best credit coop society two times by NCUI ,apex body of cooperative in India.and has got highest award for cooperatives in the Asia -Pacific region , the CUMI award. It is a billion US dollar credit cooperative .
22 July 2015
Finally Microspin Machine Works cotton fabric will walk the ramp as a festive and bridal collection presented by Nisha Natrajan whose brand is Bengaluru-based Zariya. Nisha raised Rs. 2 lacs on crowd-funding platform WishBerry.in to support this project .
And her campaign was called Farm to Fashion.
Zariya- a journey that began over two years ago as a bespoke bridal wear label in Bangalore is now aiming to bring fashion with a purpose. A hotelier by profession,Nisha Natrajan,quit her job to pursue her passion for design and started the boutique with a small yet talented team of 7 members. A self taught designer, she started Zariya in 2013 designing exclusive custom made bridal and festive wear for women.
Zariya in association with Microspin Machine Works, a company incubated by IIT-Madras which has invented a microspinning machine, the first of its kind in the world where a farmer can enter the gates with a bale of cotton and walk out with a finished product.
Today, a co-operative of over 200 farmer turned weavers are benefitting from this project in Vidharbha region of Maharashtra where the first unit is currently fully functional.
The cotton is ginned, spun, dyed and woven in an integrated co-operative facility of just 25,000 sft. Young men and women from agricultural background have been trained in operating the machines, managing operations and monitoring quality, so they don’t just grow cotton but capture the value created across the production-chain. This fabric which has the look of linen and the comfort of pure natural cotton goes by the name Crafted Yarn™ representinghope for the people of Vidharbha.
Nisha has also been closely working with Microspin as a Textile Design Consultant, handling business development of Crafted Yarn™ fabrics.
After learning extensively about their technology and fabrics she believes that these fabrics will not only help redefine conventional fashion trends but also help blend technology and agriculturally grown and hand crafted fabrics with high end fashion as we know it. The last two years have been overwhelming in terms of learning about new processes, fabrics and technology that can revolutionize the fashion industry.
This is the first time ever that fabrics, grown, spun and woven entirely by our farmers would walk the fashion ramp. Through this collection “Mayura”, Zariya helps to bring their produce directly from the farm onto the fashion ramp. Through this project
Nisha plans to launch an alternative line of clothing that looks beyond just silks and other fabrics when it comes to Indian Festive Wear for women.
The theme of this collection, Mayura, is Indian Festive wear made from Crafted Yarn™ fabrics which is 100% light, breathable cotton.
Mayura, A collection of Indian Festive Wear aims at bringing fashion with a purpose.
A strong believer of “sustainable fashion”, which includes the roots and origin of the fabrics used, retaining the human element behind the making of the entire collection,
Nisha presents to you a minimalist collection of Indian wear embellished with peacock and peacock feather motifs, personifying grace and dignity, with a touch of royal blue and gold throughout the collection.
The purpose, need and source is highly important and Nisha has tried to include it in every iteration of my design process which is why she has predominantly used Crafted Yarn™ fabrics in her collection Mayura. Through this collection, she is trying to create awareness about these fabrics and the imbalance between the maker and the end user of these ensembles in today’s world of fast-fashion where most of us are blissfully unaware of how our garments are made and where they come from.”
4 July 2015
This is what I call “PC”fication of Spinning . Getting back value addition in the 21st century to the rural areas and the farmers .
The cotton farmers can make their own yarn and fabrics at 1% of the cost of a Big Spinning Mill or an Integrated Textile Plant which costs 125-500 crores .
This Microspin Plant will cost 1.25 -5 crores in 3000 sq feet -25,000 sq feet .
Any small cooperative of a few hundred cotton farmers can become Textile Mill owners and their young children can become factory managers .
Buldana Urban Cooperative Credit Society has started the first such Integrated Textile Plant in Vidarbha. Buldana Urban started with a capital of 210 USD and 72 members in 1986 . In a span of 27 years and mainly in last decade under managing director Dr Sukesh Zamwar, the Credit Society has grown to size of 1.1 billion US dollar business with 700,000 membership. The area of operation is mainly in central and western India in four states of India. Now the society has 333 branches and 5000 employees and 300 warehouses.
It got the Best cooperative credit society award by Apex body of Indian cooperative, National Cooperative Union of India in 2008 and in 2013 and is the India coordinator of Asian Confederation of Credit Unions.
This is Disruptive Decentralised Technology that will build the new generation of rural and small urban entrepreneurs . In a mature industry like textiles, it is rare to be original. But the Microspin patent has been upheld on all the 27 counts with the earliest resembling patent being as early as 2007, as per the International Patent Search Authority based in Vienna. Microspin has several more patents in the pipeline.
An important focus area of Microspin is to up-skill participants in our value-chain — typically, young men and women with no specific background in this domain. The Learning Management System (LMS) is a tool to identify specific skills under each job-role and build content to impart these skills in the shortest possible time-frame.
This tool will also provide a graded career-path for participants to progressively acquire more sophisticated skills and upgrade themselves. By providing a platform for capturing and sharing best practices, the LMS will drive the whole eco-system to differentiate itself on quality, rather than be trapped into becoming the lowest-cost provider of low-end offerings.
Now called ‘Crafted Yarn’ the microspin yarn is naturally slubbed, in a manner different from mechanical slubs produced in the conventional industry. Further, the yarn has a characteristic “neppy” look with a semi-combed feel. These result in creating khadi-like and linen-like fabrics that are very soft, breathable and drape wonderfully.
Fractal Foundation was awarded The 2012 Innovation for India Award by the Marico Innovation Foundation for MICROSPINNING under the social category. Fractal’s selection was the culmination of a year-long process in which 437 entries were screened against three criteria -Uniqueness, Impact and Sustainability of the Innovation.
28 March 2015
I see hybrid occupations as the future , just as they were earlier , before Industrial Modernity created farm, factory, office , workshop . This is one of my favourite enterprises in which I curated investors and invested personally Microspin Machine Works.
The sons and daughters of Vidarbha cotton farmers also working in spinning to weaving and soon garment-manufacturing close to their farms along with farming .
Soon, word of the factory spread to the surrounding villages. Today, 100 men and women work there, churning out fabric from the cotton grown on their lands. Most of them farmers, their jobs at the factory provide regular income as opposed to agriculture, which is a seasonal affair. Kannan says that they are busy for two months a year during the harvest season; at this time, they juggle work at the farm and the factory, since their jobs give them the option of working in shifts.
“They work on their fields for two hours early in the morning and then come to the factory,” explains Hemamalini J., manager – HR and admin. According to Microspin, when you shop for cotton textiles, for every Rs. 100 that you spend, less than Rs. 5 goes to the farmer. Their initiative aims to help the farmer earn more and “save enough to put into agriculture,” says Kannan.
Initially though, he admits that it was not easy to get a man of the soil to work for fixed hours. “Work hours are flexible on his farm. He can afford to take a nap for a few hours, come and go as he pleases… But at the factory, he has to be present at the time of his shift,” says Kannan.
But as outsiders, he says they were able to create a smooth working culture. “If a worker performed well, we make sure he/she is rewarded in cash or in kind in front of everyone else,” explains Kannan. In Vidarbha, where there are little or no job opportunities, the regular flow of income gradually changed the lives of the people.
“In terms of social dynamics, we observed a lot of interesting aspects,” says Kannan. There was a change in the attitude of the people; the job opportunity gave them a sense of accomplishment. Young men who always dreamed of riding a bike confidently applied for loans; couples in love, whose families were against them getting married, tied the knot with the consent of their elders since they now held jobs.
Microspin is now setting up a factory in Bangalore. They are also foraying into garment manufacturing and talks are on with Madura Garments for the process. They are testing the waters with white shirts that are now available for order online. “This field is completely new to us,” admits Kannan. “It’s as if those who manufacture stoves are entering a restaurant business.” But as a start, they are selling their shirts and fabrics at an exhibition in Chennai. The fabric is midway between thick khadi and fine linen — Microspin claims to use biodegradable ingredients in its bleaching and scouring process.”
14 January 2015
The future is not “Make in India” by corporations with HQ in Shanghai, HK , Seoul , Palo Alto , Zurich, London, Frankfurt and Taipei . It is by creating an Innovation, Design, IP and Solution ecology that uses the best of the Indian mind and creativity. Not just makes them followers but cutting-edge sustainability and the new manufacturing revolution entrepreneurs .
To create an insistence on skilling and training, on excellence and persistence. And very few such ecologies of education , incubation , mentoring, financial support and business development exist like that in India . We need not just Silicon Valleys , we need Design and Manufacturing ecologies .
L Kannan is an innovator who thinks from first principles is a good friend . From IIT Chennai he spent many years understanding and roaming rural India , setting up rural education experiments , working with handlooms before he did his first innovation.
The GRAMATELLER, the first Indian ATM which can work on less than 20% energy of a Western one, needs no air-conditioning , is bio-metric enabled and is being used for rural inclusive banking as it can work on solar energy. It has its own global patent for ‘Gravity Assisted Friction Feed’ technique for reliable cash dispense. It has a built-in UPS for 4 hours (8 hours optional). No need for an additional UPS.
2004 – 2008: Vortex designs the Rural ATM in association with IIT Madras
2008: Vortex deploys Pilot ATM for NREGS – first unit deployed in Cuddalore district, Tamil Nadu
2010: Vortex starts deployment of Gramateller Duo for State Bank of India, across the country.
2011: Vortex commences export of ATMs to Nepal, Bangladesh, Djibouti & Madagascar.
2012: Vortex launches new services suite for ATM: ATM Management Centre, ATM Managed Services & ATM Advertisement Platform Vortex reaches more than 25 banks across PSU, Private banks and Co-ops.
2013 Jan: Vortex opens its second manufacturing facility in Puducherry.
2013 Apr: Vortex launches the Ecoteller ATM
2013 May: Volume launch of Ecoteller & Expansion of the manufacturing capacity to 12,000 ATMs/Year
Kannan has about 20 years of association with NGOs and other groups engaged in rural development. He founded Vortex in 2001 to develop technologies appropriate to rural India. He is also founder of a matriculation school in Tamil Nadu. He is associated with the LRAMP programme of IIT Madras that mentors grassroots innovators. He holds various patents on the vortex ATM design.
Not satisfied Kannan went back to his first love of textile spinning. He rewrote the first innovation of the Industrial Revolution, by redesigning a modern kind of spinning process that would not need baling and big blow-rooms and directly on the farm, spinners can now make yarn. Known as Microspin Machine Works, the first integrated cotton to spinning to fabric dyed in the most modern process small mill has been set up by a local co-op bank in Buldana, Vidarbha .
In a mature industry like textiles, it is rare to be original. But the Microspin patent has been upheld on all the 27 counts with the earliest resembling patent being as early as 2007, as per the International Patent Search Authority based in Vienna. Microspin has several more patents in the pipeline.
Now Kannan has created an ecology of co-innovators in Chennai. I met designers, architects , ex-forces people and engineers with him , working on new kinds of learning toys and tools ,even reasonable retirement homes and trying to create a positive solution providing energy and build a community that co-creates .
Kannan is co-founder of Skillveri , which is run by Sabarinath C Nair, an engineer himself. Sabari has taken the entrepreneurial leap with a vision of using gaming as an educational tool and seeking to apply his abilities towards building a scalable social enterprise that draws upon his background and experience to deliver a significant social impact. Prior to co-founding Skillveri, he was handling marketing of Vortex ATMs.
And what does Skillveri do ?
“We believe in simple solutions. Most of the improper welds happen due to one core issue – the welder has not understood the fundamentals correctly. We don’t offer hundreds of features which are not used by you – we offer one simple product that is: –
Easy to use, Simple & Intuitive.Teaches basics- hand-eye-mind coordination of the welder – with a strong quality focus. Convert a raw hand to a semi-skilled welder in under two weeks!”
And the path-breaking institution that supported all this is IIT Madras’ Rural Technology and Business Incubator (RTBI) which is a registered not-for-profit society established in Oct 2006. Its mission is to incubate start-ups whose focus is to impact rural/underserved societal segments, leveraging ICT (Information and Communication Technologies).
25 September 2014
Microspin Machine Works @ Buldhana, India is actually a new fable emerging. It has possibilities to transform . The factory as the great village joint-family again. The young men and women to work together in joy and produce world-class fabrics near the farm. Of farmers, Of Dalits , Of small entrepreneurs, Of rural co-op societies credit or weavers, working with disruptive manufacturing, that re-writes the whole Industrial Revolution history. Of re-making Khadi in its 21st century avatar.
It is one of the thousands of solutions we need between Gandhi and China, between the past and the hyper-urbanised society. #kottonkatha
Microspin is creating a technology of communities to sustain and prosper #TechnologyforCommunities. This is community level technology that adds maximum value with high quality at the farm level.
It builds rural capacity to produce , it humanises small scale manufacturing right now trapped in Industrial slums in urban sprawls , it disrupts big scale spinning into right scale and reduces baling processes, it creates yarn for handloom, it allows women to work almost a step from home.
This is a manufacturing that doesn’t displace , makes an industry into a community not unknown workers (the smiles show), and you live among open fields.
And it is creating world-class dyeing facilities, training local youth and installing best in class ETP. With a future in solar and biomass power.
This is the way India can and will grow in sustainability and decentralisation.
The Frugal Engineering of Mangalaayan is now working at the level of the Next Industrial Revolution.
Disruptive and Decentralised.
And it is being funded and incubated, by no VC or billionaire. But by a dynamic and visionary small town urban cooperative society and bank in Vidarbha region .
When all imagination dies, is when we become big like dinosaurs, then become extinct .
Then a new species emerges. More power to engineer-entrepreneurs like Kannan, to community bankers like Zamwar.
24 September 2014
Buldhana, along with the rest of Berar Province, was part of the kingdom of Vidarbha mentioned in the Mahabharata, a Sanskrit epic poem. Jijabai, also known as Rajmata Jijabai, was the mother of Shivaji, founder of the Maratha Empire was born on 12 January 1598 and a daughter of Lakhojirao Jadhav in present-day Buldhana district .
Buldhana in 1950 became part of Madhya Pradesh with Nagpur as its capital. In 1956, along with other Marathi-speaking regions of Vidarbha, it became part of Bombay State and part of Maharashtra State in 1960.
Cotton, sorghum and other cereals, oil seeds, soybean, sunflower, and groundnuts are the predominant crops grown in the district. According to the 2011 census Buldhana district has a population of 2,588,039 and Buldhana , the town a population of 67,431. It is also known as the “Vidharbhacha Praveshdwar”.The city has amazing location amidst the Mountains and it is also a Hill Station.
It has India’s largest co-operative credit society, the Buldana Urban Co-operative Credit Society.Buldana Urban was established way back in 1986, by Mr. Radheshyamji Devkisanji Chandak.
Buldana Urban was established in 1986 with a mere capital of Rs.12,000/- and 72 members. Today, it has a deposit of Rs. 2445 crore, loan disbursement of Rs. 2024 crore, 266 branches in 7 states of India and 700,000 members. Its loan recovery is at 97% to 98%. Buldana Urban has extended its activities in Chhatisgadh, Rajasthan, Gujrat, Andaman & Nicobar, Goa and Madhya Pradesh. Today, they have 300 warehouses at various places.
Out of these, 93 warehouses are owned by the Society. Today 168 branches of Buldana Urban are in core banking system. Their customers are benefited with the ATM card, a result of tie up with Axis Bank.
Buldana Urban has 5000 employees now. They run 22 Sahakar Vidya Mandir Schools in different villages of Buldana district in which 17000 students are being educated. They have water ATMs so people are getting RO water at the cost of about 30 paisa per liter.
Buldana Urban has setup a Hostel in Buldana for working women, secondly a Hostel in Pune for the member’s children those who want to do their higher education in Pune .Then they set up a high quality residency hotel in Buldana town and a co-operative training centre in Shirdi , and subsidised ambulances at their branches . They are creating facilities for their members and their families.
Buldhana Urban has adopted village Dongar Khandala for its overall development. The construction work of sewage, toilets and roads is going on. More than a thousand plants are planted here. Apart from this, the farmers and villagers have been provided with nearly 15 thousand fruit bearing plants. And it is in this village the first integrated Microspin plant is based . Where a farmer will get in cotton and a world-class dyed fabric will leave the unit .
Credit societies normally are smaller entities as compared to banks but this cooperative’s lending to the farm sector comes to more than 12% of the total loans granted in Vidarbha by the regular banking channel. Their strength is loans at 14% to 16% against gold.
The regular banking channel which lends at a concessional rate of 6% is mandated to keep 18% of its advances for the farm sector but the paperwork and the bureaucracy has created the space for Buldhana like co-op banks. The society is the first supporting member from India of the Asian Confederation of Credit Union, a global body of cooperatives.
It is this local entrepreneurial bank from a small town of less than a lac population, that has had the vision to fund a disruptive enterprise in a region teeming with hundreds of small ginning plants. Most of the cotton from here is sent to Surat and Ahmadabad. Farmer Producer Organisations could start spinning right here and increase their incomes by a large amount.
Buldana shows that cutting-edge industrial innovation may not have big billionaires supporting it, but people’s co-op’s can.
7 April 2014
In a mature industry like textiles, it is rare to be original. But the Microspin Machine Works patent has been upheld on all the 27 counts with the earliest resembling patent being as early as 2007, as per the International Patent Search Authority based in Vienna. Microspin has several more patents in the pipeline.
I helped curate the first round of funding in Microspin to Kannan who is also the inventor of Gramateller , the Indian ATM which can run on solar energy at almost 15-20% of the energy requirements of a standard ATM, and without air-conditioning !
Microspin is radically decentralising cotton-spinning back to the villages . Vidarbha cotton farmers and cooperative banks are seeing this as a possible important technology that will help build crop to garment industry in Vidarbha and stop the human and agricultural disaster of cotton farmers .
8 August 2014
I have written about Kannan , his innovations of an Indian ATM , Gramateller which can run on solar-power without AC and now Microspin Machine Works which dreams of taking yarn, fabric and even garment production to small cotton-farmer cooperatives . He is doing what I call PCfication of the Large Spinning Mill , which costs a minimum of 100 crores to a sub-crore level .
In a time when start-ups that are just about entertainment can be valued in billions of dollars , a true-blue enabling manufacturing start-up that builds equity , ecology and an enhancement of a process finds it really difficult to convince people to fast-track .
In a country that is caught between debates of MNC-retail and NREGA , there are people who are creating the proverbial fishing rod . But its a slow and long battle .
I want to share Kannan’s email about how history of imperialism, colonial extraction, slave trading have built the Industrial system we have today . It is one of the most thought-provoking emails I have got in a long long time . It is about dreaming like a fool . Very very few in India have the guts and brilliance to attempt this .
In India, behavioural models of ‘what works’ fail — because society is too complex, people’s motivations are too complicated. And ‘democracy’ ensures that everyone has the veto to stop something, but no single person can assure something will really happen.
I am reminded of the behavioural psychologist who wanted to investigate how animals react to solitary confinement, when they are physically well provided for. He put this monkey in a room with nuts, fruits, whatever it would covet.
He settled down in the adjoining room with a bottle of beer and chips and whatever else he likes to relax with. After some time, peeped through the keyhole to see what the monkey was up to. The monkey was, well, observing him through the other end!). The actor-acted, observer-observed, object-subject, cause-effect categories are completely subverted in India.
But if you are a student of history-of-technology, you will know that dyeing and pharma technology (entities like Hoechst) had its origins in human experiments on Jewish captives.
Detailed haggling on price/female or male preceded the experiments where they were ‘procured’; leading in turn to indigo farmers in India having to ‘compete’ with the outcomes in the marketplace; leading to Gandhi’s intervention in the plight of the farmer. You would know that un-used stocks of toxic chemical weapons posed a dilemma after the war — which birthed the industry of chemical fertilizers and pesticides as a means of ‘safe disposal’.
When slaves were awakened by the crack of the whip before dawn to pick cotton in US, they were expected to return with the cotton they picked by dusk. If the quantity was more than what they picked the previous day, the target was revised for the next day.
If it was less, they were tied to the post and flogged. That is the origin of KRAs and KPIs, of performance-linked rewards and punishments. And Indian farmers, not formally slaves, had to be ‘competitive’ with American cotton.
What Microspin is trying to do is an eco-system change — the way the industry is organised, works. More importantly, and difficultly, a cultural change — villagers resent rigid 8-hr work schedules; they like to take off on cultural holidays about 200-days/year; no one wants to work in the graveyard night shift, they live by a different clock, as did peasants in Europe before the Industrial Revolution, till the ‘enclosure movement’ drove them to such destitution that they put 3-year-olds to work in the coal-mines.
When destitution could be exported to colonies, they instituted 8-hr days, banned child-labour and legislated human-rights in their own homelands. That is why Gandhi said, when asked what he thinks of Western Civilization, ‘That would be a good idea!’.
The objective of meaningful intervention is not top-line. Nor bottom-line. Nor ‘relative competitive advantage’. It is merely the opportunity to live life on your own terms. But let’s look at Microspin by more conventional standards:
- No other company makes spinning machines AND makes yarn
- No other company ALSO makes fabrics
- No other company has a differentiated, branded yarn offering
- No other company is a manufacturer in the apparel, home and knits segment
- Microspin is a cash-starved start-up in an eco-system where others being compared with are 1000-s of times larger.
In Vidarbha, we have been clocking 6-8 farmer-suicides/day over the last 15-20 years. Nobody has been able to propose anything more than doles, or just blame “the system”. Only Microspin claims it has a solution; a market-driven solution. Maybe, it’s an ambitious claim. It is certainly not yet ‘proven’. Microspin may be, as you say, a “fool’s paradise”. But the only heirs of paradise in human history have been fools. ”
19 September 2012
Microspin is a start-up company born out of the vision to radically transform what is arguably the oldest industry of India – Textiles. Armed with a slew of innovative and patent-pending technologies, Microspin has forged a transformative architecture of textile production and marketing that is simultaneously inclusive, eco-friendly and profitable.
1 November 2012
L Kannan innovated the technology for creating Malkha fabric. A small 8 minute documentary sharing the Disruptive Innovation, Microspin is doing reworking the spinning technology which created the Industrial Revolution on the penury of Indian textile industry. It took us almost 150 years to begin thinking that technology itself is political and we need a dialectic to look at technology again in ways that are sustainable and equitable.
The real battle of innovation begins now. Whether Indians have the stomach to support technology that decentralizes power and production right to the farms. Interestingly Jairam Ramesh has been a great supporter and Microspin has got till here with lots of state support. Just shows that there are visionary people in every sphere. We just need the passionate innovate sutradhaars. Join the page of Microspin Machine Works to understand this new revolution .
28 December 2012
Kannan has been working in truly Disruptive Innovation for years now. He innovated the technology that runs the Solar Powered ATM being used in rural India which has won many awards and now have installed world’s largest number of solar ATMs in India.
He had been working on Microspinning which radically alters cotton spinning back to rural geographies from large scale spinning factories on whose basis began the English Industrial Revolution . The initial development was funded by government bodies . The fabric created is called malkha , which is being made by handloom weavers in South India ( http://malkha.in/) .
He needed to raise 25% of the 2.5 crores which National Skill Development Corporation promised him as equity as NSDC would give 75% as low-interest loan . In any western country he could have raised that money, but in India no one would invest in his idea . He was working on personal loans at high interest.
This a technology which had the audacity to relook at the whole process of cotton cloth production from the colonised systems . Indians will give lip-service to innovation and admire the west and Japan but put their money into Gold or FD’s.
They will very rarely support experimentation and research . I managed to convince mostly friends and one from family , along with me , to take the risk , to take equity in the dream and to see the possibility of a new way of decentralised production, a technology that could help not only Indian cotton farmers and weavers but also Africa and anywhere which were bypassed by huge spinning mills and had little textile processing .
Thanks to Rohit Talwar -Moradabad brass and craft exporter, Amita Baviskar – Sociologist , Aseem Shrivastava- writer/activist Churning the Earth : The Making of Global India, Maya Joshi- Professor English Literature LSR , Shekhar Arjun and Ashraf Patel – co-founders Pravah, Shailja Sharma – Professor English Literature De Paul University Chicago. Damandeep Singh – Carbon Credit Consultant, we managed to create a coalition and make Microspinning carry on its journey.
We Indians have to realise that to make it a better world we have to take personal risks , believe and have faith in our dreamers who have given their lives to thinking out of the box solutions, show that we understand their courage and intelligence , their creativity and their hard-work. By giving money to banks or mutual funds you only fund the big corporations who then you blame for many of the ills. We really need a system that directly puts small innovators and investors together to really build what India and Indians really need .
12 October 2013
Kannan re-engineered the imported ATM which uses 1000 watts (1 kw) and uses “ATM-fit” currency , need air-conditioning to work in rural areas and tier 2/3 towns , with even solar-energy . He says in this interview that when we count using fingers we use 2-3 watts equivalent of energy , they went on to create 8 patents and use just 50 watts for their Gramateller , which can use soiled currency and easy to mantain. It is also 30% cheaper in price . They now have a 1000 ATM’s rolled out , looking at 3000 this year and 10,000 next year for financial inclusion . India is the fastest growing ATM market in the world and will have 200,000 new ATM’s in next few years .
He talks of a ground-up approach for finding Indian solutions rather than just adapt or imitate western solutions. Japan picked up and organised production in a completely new way from America.
Now he has created in similar vein Microspin Machine Works to re-engineer the whole textile chain, by creating spinning technology without baling , at the grassroots in an age when new spinning mills cost the earth. His spinning mill is under a crore and can be based only for 100 acre of cotton farm. This way spinning can be hugely decentralised and his costs are coming down rapidly to match the costs per kg of the spinning mill.
He is also working in creating skill training using simulators to impart skill sets in areas like micro-welding, as more th
an 80% of the time spent on entry level vocational skills is spent on acquiring the basic hand-eye-mind coordination.