Celebrating achievements beyond marriage— Sangamitra Jena seems to be the poster child for the slogan
Sanghamitra Jena’s inspirational story is one that everyone in this world must be told. Starting from just Rs.40, 000 capital in 2004, today her travel firm “Eastern Treasure India Tours” has a turnover of a whopping Rs. 1 Crore! She has recently been awarded the “Prerana Award” by OTV (Orissa Television), was featured in Forbes India magazine, and also won the “Woman Entrepreneur for Tourism” Award by TiE. (Sourced amritasabat blogspot). She was also the first prize winner for the 10000 women program by ISB and Goldman Sachs —The program was designed to help scale up the existing businesses (with an annual turnover of INR 35 lakhs and above) and provide a growth-oriented value proposition to these women entrepreneurs.
Sustainable Tourism in the rare hidden gems of our country utilizing the local and tribal people giving them opportunities beyond their reach without harming the ecosystem— what more innovation can we expect?
But Sangamitra Jena is a woman made of the jungle the wind the cooing of the kingfisher and the sound of the rivulets and thus as sturdy as the nature she promotes. A tough tough personal life that meant fighting her surroundings to dream of being a tourist guide; fighting her bosses for equality of gender and then her falling personal life— none of which deterred this fire spirit from her pat.
After the fallout with her bosses for whom she had traveled far and wide, she decided to give her own passion a tryout in the Bhitarkanika national park where she had literally grown up. But Sangamitra as intelligent and widely traveled as she was wanted to give something unique and that’s how from a loan from her elder sister came to Eastern Treasures India which solely utilized the manpower and resources of the local community around Bhitarkanika and swiss tents sent up by Sangamitra herself (which she had seen in Ladakh on her many travels) and yet again after her first guests of 22 Dutch people who were delighted with her she never looked back.
The warmth of local people yet lack of formal training the brainwashing of many to let and be as they are (many women initially were shy to move around strangers in their natural clothing) and of course several issues with food wherein she refused to compromise on the whatever is available locally principal —all these were mere stepping stones for her company which had now provided a beautiful set up in a place which earlier had just a run-down government guest house and MTR meals a place that spruced the local economy and the ecosystem so no wonder get fame traveled to Subhroto Bagchi from Skill India who in his lectures sites her example which further accelerated her rise.
Sangamitra never looked back and established a similar setup with local power through Konark and Satpuran and Daringbadi in Odisha with utmost success so much so that she was being approached by bigger companies and setups to do similar work for them. But then covid happened and the toughest challenge of the tourist sector came in.
Unsurprisingly Sangamitra was unfazed selling her personal belongings to sustain the locals whom she had promised work and this almost mad passionate woman will see her people through that too I’m sure because her extreme care for preservation will and is providing a chill zone for post covid madness as well.