While Peepal Farm Products had started out as a targeted offline awareness effort, now it's turned into a project which empowers women via employment, and also helps us be closer to financial self-sufficiency.
How did it start?
In the beginning there were flyers and uninterested glances of passers-by. There was the nonchalant attitude of café and restaurant owners whom we approached to display our posters. We will put them up, they said, but they never did. The flyers, too, were trashed, most likely unread. How were we ever to get the message out — that Peepal Farm was striving to help stray and injured animals and do much needed work? Who would hear us out, and what would be their incentive to do so?
Once we had tapped into the influence of retailers, by realigning our medium with their incentive — a profit margin — we had no more use of distributing flyers to apathetic tourists on the streets of McLeod Ganj - a nearby tourist hotspot.
We were able to use our products themselves and a brief note in the packaging — a challenging question or point-of-view, a dog adoption plea — to convey our message.
In the welfare sector, be it for animals or human-animals, the impact can not be lineraly scaled by scaling operations. That means the work we do at Peepal Farm cannot become more effective simply by increasing the number of stray dogs, cows and other animals we take into our shelter. Thus, our strategy from the start has been to involve and inspire, by creating channels whereby word spreads horizontally to a wide variety of people who discover their own reasons to absorb our ideas.
While employees and volunteers form our core network of strong ties, consumers form a no less crucial network of weak ties connected by our products. Our products are maded to appeal to people who lead a healthy and mindful life — people whom we wanted to reach out to — who would understand our work and ideology best and get motivated to walk lightly on earth and to take positive action, like reducing physical pain in other creatures caused by human actions.
These consumers bring out the widest reach of our impact, and are all the more helpful for bringing along their own networks to further spread the message. Though termed weak ties, our products are actually strong connectors that galvanise more numbers of realised individuals to join forces with us or reduce their suffering footprint and start doing good work in their own small ways. This could be something as simple as providing drinking water to homeless animals or giving one of them a home, or doing awarness, maybe the peanut butter way :)