Bijiyashanti Tongbram, a pioneering woman entrepreneur from Manipur, has woven a tale of success by harnessing the abundant lotus stems of Loktak Lake to create eco-friendly textiles. Her journey, which began with a fascination for the lotus flowers of her childhood, has blossomed into the innovative venture named Sanajing Sana Thamba.

Passion for innovation combined with curiosity gave rise to “Sanajing Sana Thambal”.

Background and Inspiration:

  • Bijiyashanti Tongbram,
  • a botanist from Manipur, drew inspiration
  • from the abundance of lotus flowers around Loktak Lake in her childhood village.
  • Her fascination with lotus plants led her to explore the untapped potential of lotus stems, often discarded as waste.

Innovative Venture: Sanajing Sana Thambal:

  • Tongbram founded Sanajing Sana Thambal in 2018,
  • aiming to create eco-friendly textiles and provide employment opportunities for rural women.
  • The startup focuses on extracting silk-like yarn from lotus stems and weaving them into scarves, mufflers, and neckties.

Entrepreneurial Journey:

  • Tongbram spent four years researching and experimenting with lotus stem fibres, refining her techniques before launching her venture.
  • Her dedication paid off, leading to the development of unique, sustainable products.

Recognition and Support:

  • Tongbram’s efforts were recognized on a national scale when Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned her in his Mann Ki Baat program.
  • She has received support from local and national entities like Manipur’s Chief Minister N. Biren Singh and various entrepreneurial funds.

Impact on Women Empowerment:

  • Sanajing Sana Thambal employs over 30 local women,
  • providing them with steady incomes through weaving and production activities.
  • Tongbram’s initiative empowers women in her community by preserving traditional crafts and offering economic opportunities.

Challenges and Future Aspirations:

  • Despite challenges such as time-intensive production processes and limited capacity, Tongbram is determined to scale her business.
  • She aims to secure funding for expansion, employ more women, and tap into larger markets beyond metropolitan cities.


  • Tongbram’s story exemplifies the transformative power of social entrepreneurship, combining innovation with sustainability to drive economic empowerment.
  • Through her venture, she not only celebrates the natural beauty of her surroundings but also sets an inspiring example for inclusive and eco-conscious business practices in India.

Tongbram’s story portrays the potential of social entrepreneurship to drive economic empowerment and environmental sustainability. By turning overlooked lotus stems into high-end textiles, she is not only preserving a local tradition but also setting a precedent for inclusive and eco-conscious business practices in India’s entrepreneurial landscape.

Startup Idea : Lotus stem being used for making fabric