Samsonite management and employees are making a difference in Nashik, India, through significant investments in local primary school education and the environment, in collaboration with a local foundation and community leaders. Key Company employees serve on the foundation board and participate in all the initiative’s decisions.
Inside like a hospital. Outside like a garden,” is the oft-repeated motto of a longtime Samsonite plant manager in Nashik, Yashwant Singh. The plant is investing in the community through a greenhouse where saplings grow. The greenhouse is adjacent to the modern facility that manufactures hardside Samsonite luggage for domestic and export sale. Special fast-growing shrubs and trees are planted on Samsonite-owned land, creating a green space that prevents soil erosion and contributes to greenhouse gas offsets. But the work does not stop there. Since many of the lands surrounding Nashik have been overgrazed, Samsonite has stepped in to help. Thousands of trees have been planted, and tree guards are being placed around saplings to prevent cattle from reaching them.
When it comes to schools, Samsonite employees work with community leaders to select villages that are in the most need of assistance. Often these villages are isolated from the city of Nashik and its available resources. Upgrading of school buildings, toilets and play areas are a priority with the support and participation of affected communities.
The rationale for the focus on the environment and education comes from deep local knowledge and the commitment of Company leadership in dialogue with community leaders. Primary school education is viewed as key to the betterment of girls’ futures. And reforestation is critical to providing a better environment. What have been the results? Thousands of students and hundreds of schools, teachers and principals in 120 villages have benefited from these programmes. “We can’t change everything, but we can do these small things,” remarked Milind Vaidya, a long-time executive at the Nashik facility.