New Delhi: More than 1000 Sambalpuri handloom weavers from Bargarh have been trained in aspects of enterprise creation and business development under Project ‘Handmade in India’ (HMI) implemented by Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDII). EDII and Ernst & Young LLP (EY) have jointly undertaken the implementation of HSBC supported project “Hand-Made in India,” intending to strengthen the handloom value chain, making the weavers self-reliant. Interventions such as credit linkage, capacity building, market linkage, design development, and enterprise the development were conducted at Bargarh handloom cluster. Apart from Bargarh, around 3000 weavers in the handloom clusters of Bhuj and Surendranagar in Gujarat; Kamrup in Assam; Maheshwar in Madhya Pradesh and Salem in Tamil Nadu have been also been roped in the first phase of the project.
The aim of the initiative is to develop entrepreneurial competencies in the weavers as they generally have a lesser inclination towards diversifying product. Most of the weavers and traders are not digitally savvy, so there is a challenge of using the e-commerce portals and social media platforms effectively. They hesitate to come out from their respective villages to participate in urban area programmes, so the exposure to markets is very less. Due to Covid, the price of raw material has also increased which the weavers are unable to afford. Keeping this in mind, the project concentrates on product development to capture larger and high-end markets with a special focus on exports.
EDII has also developed a plan which involves upgrading the skills of weavers, introducing new-age marketing strategies, ensuring increased credit availability, impressing upon the younger generation about the viability of the Handloom sector. These measures are targeted to improve the income and quality of life of the weavers in the clusters. Capacity building interventions aim at improving knowledge about availing credit, strengthening and establishing market linkages, introducing new designs and prints, enterprise creation and business development. ‘Enterprise Creation’ is targeted to enhance entrepreneurial capabilities and knowledge of handloom heritage practitioners and community members in order to reinforce the involvement and benefits of local communities through sustainable handloom weaving and awareness as well as other income-generating activities.
EDII HMI Cluster teams have also conducted training sessions on Digital Marketing. The weavers were trained to open their accounts on Facebook, Instagram and other e-commerce portals. Apart from providing inputs in the domains of modernizing designs, market access, and credit linkages, EDII is also helping them in presenting their products across India through physical and virtual exhibitions due to the COVID pandemic. The virtual exhibitions were initiated to ensure that the weavers do not lose touch with the market. So, EDII designed a virtual platform to provide visibility to these artisans. This not only enabled the weavers to directly interact and connect with the buyers but also eliminated the middlemen.
For example, one of the weavers, Subhashini Meher who had registered to participate in a design training programme, learnt about the importance of design, drafting designs on graph paper and new colour combinations. Before participating in this program her family was depending on designs by external sources which was available at a price. After learning the technique of designing she got interested in experimenting on the loom. Now after the introduction of new design she has been selling her product in the range of Rs. 2600-2800 instead of Rs. 1800 to 2000 per unit earlier. Her monthly income has gone up by Rs. 3000-4000 rupees.