Birth of the Idea

Note from Vishal Bhandari, founder and managing director, SoulTree

It was the 1990s.

I stepped out of my Merchant Navy job full of energy and confidence keen to make a new beginning for myself.

It was also the turn of the millennium and people across the world were taking stock of their lives and thinking about the way the world should be in the 2000s. A result of many such deliberations was a document called the Earth Charter. Its preamble began momentously; it said “We stand at a critical moment in Earth’s history, a time when humanity must choose its future.”

These words made me think long and hard about consequences. I realised whatever I chose to make a living out of would inevitably leave an impact on the world. Whether it was a good impact or a negative one was my choice. I chose good.

They say ways open up for the one who knows where he’s going. That’s what happened with me. During my travels in the Himalayas (Uttarakhand) I spent time with NGOs and farmer groups who were practicing organic farming. They trusted me enough to let me support them in building markets for the Ayurvedic herbs they were growing organically.

With them were my first steps on the way to doing good. I was supporting small farmers who were doing their bit to save the earth and us from pesticides and harmful chemicals. Marketing support was vital for them as it was directly connected to their livelihoods. Getting assured and fair payments for their produce was a welcome alternative to being exploited by the middlemen in the mandis (local market places).