Ngangom Monalisa Chanu, the 29-year-old founder of Chanu Associates

Imphal: How about a pen or a pencil that grows into a plant once you stop using it and decide to discard? Sounds fun, isn’t it?

Ngangom Monalisa Chanu, a 29-year-old woman, is doing just that. The ‘green-preneur’ from Manipur designs and sells biodegradable pens and pencils which, when planted after use, yields fruits, vegetables or herbs.

She sells her products under the brand name, ‘Envi’, which is a part of her business venture, Chanu Associates. Besides pens and pencils, Monalisa also makes products such as paper bags and non-woven bags, among others.

The basic idea is to plant the pencil stub when it’s too short to use. This way, users can also give their favourite writing or drawing tool a new lease of life. In order to achieve this, Monalisa and her team insert seeds of vegetables and herbs like carrots, tomatoes, spinach radish, etc, into the stubs (the rear end) of pencils.

When users decide to discard these pencils, they can simply plant them in the ground or in containers. Within a few days or weeks, as the case may be, these pencils will then start growing into a variety of plants.

Monalisa said she got the idea of making biodegradable products when she was studying at Panjab University in Chandigarh. “I discovered that pens could be made without any heavy machinery involved and without too much of investment. Although I had set up my firm in 2007, I could finish all the formalities only by March this year. I’ve been producing eco-friendly products ever since,” she explains.

At the moment, her set-up has a target of manufacturing about 200 pens manually over a period of time. However, she believes that her craftsmen can easily take out about 100 pens a day.

Seeds are inserted into the pencil stubs; once planted, they yield vegetables, fruits or herbs

“As the weather conditions in Manipur have changed to a great extent, I just wanted to contribute my bit for the environment,” adds Monalisa.

The achievements of budding woman entrepreneurs like Monalisa have not only created an entrepreneurial culture in Manipur but have also inspired youngsters across the state to take up such initiatives.

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