24 Good Businesses 2012

Pole vault

Wonder Grass is looking at gaining scale by making bamboo houses more affordable

Nilotpal baruah

We won’t blame you if you have not heard of Vinoo Kaley. This lesser known soul from Maharashtra is credited for bringing to fore the potential of India’s most under-utilised natural resource — the bamboo. Kaley, who gave up his lucrative architectural practice in Mumbai in the late 1970s, worked with bamboo artisans to not only make this forest grass an integral part of the handicrafts industry, but also advocate its commercial proposition. Ironically, just days after the architect-turned-activist put together his first draft of Venu Bharati — a compendium on the nature and various aspects of bamboo — he succumbed to a stroke. That was June 1998 when his son Vaibhav Kaley was 22 years old. Today, 14 years later, Vinoo’s legacy thrives in his eldest son’s five-year old start-up, Wonder Grass.