Kabita and Jyotsna Kalita, the duo weaver-entrepreneurs who trained under Antaran, and who started their microenterprise ‘Monikanchan Handlooms’, are joyous. Kabita explains, “We’re always in a rush to complete orders and the demand for our products is only increasing each day. Now we feel confident to bring on more weavers with us and expand our enterprise!”
“The freedom to access the resources of the cluster in a responsible manner makes us want to return to the IDC even after having completed the training course!”, says Pratibha Kalita Das, a trainee under the Antaran programme, who now runs the Chandroday Enterprise.
Antaran is a direct implementation 5-year programme of Tata Trusts that was initiated to bring seminal changes in craft development and aims at rejuvenating ailing handloom clusters through an end-to-end programme that helps and educates artisans / weavers. It was initiated in regions that were economically vulnerable, where agriculture is not a viable source of income, instead there is a prevalence of a weaving culture
SETTING IT UP:
A full fledged, Incubation and Design Centre (IDC) was set up by the Centre for Microfinance and Livelihood (CML) – an Associate Organisation of the Tata Trusts at the central Bhagwati Para, Kamrup, Assam. Incubation-Design Centres are being created in clusters to provide market-oriented education in vernacular languages and the programme helps artisans deal with markets directly.
EDUCATING THEM: DESIGNING, MARKETING & DISTRIBUTION, DIGITAL LITERACY (SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING):
Through these incubation centres, women from nearby villages can learn all about new techniques in weaving, designing, production, quality, costing, pricing, market and enterprise development.
Additionally, artisans are gaining first-hand knowledge about design-business-communication, sustainability, various crafts, and learn to deal independently with markets while they earn, through this programme. In fact, with COVID-19, there has been no scope for representation of these artisans and their work on-ground, at exhibitions, fashion weeks etc. In a bid to help them sustain their livelihood during these crucial times, the artisans and weavers are now especially taught social media marketing – sending, receiving orders and interacting with end consumers through Whatsapp Business accounts, showcasing their work and interacting with consumers through social media platforms and more.
DESIGN & CRAFT:
Regarding the strengths of this sector in these regions, the exquisite and unique designs that the artisans exhibit here through their craftsmanship remain unrivalled. A weaver invests about 25 to 50 dedicated hours in order to intricately weave a saree, each different from the other. These sarees not only exuberate refreshing colours and designs inspired from traditional textiles but also unmatched craft that is worth hours of extraordinary hard work – immeasurable against any monetary scale. From Maniabandha’s ikat saris to Eri of Kamrup, Loinloom of Dimapur and more, these exquisite crafts have been steadily revived, reinvented and commercialized for the sustenance of artisans’ livelihoods who earn their living now by directly getting in touch with markets.
ENCOURAGING SUSTAINABILITY & SLOW FASHION AND REVIVING THE INDIAN HANDLOOM CULTURE:
While crafts are inextricably linked to Indian heritage and culture, they also represent a chance for India to revive her narrative and fulfil universal Sustainable Development Goals. With sustainability coming at the forefront in all policy dialogues world-wide, crafts provide a path to sustainable economic, social, and inclusive development.
Please do feel free to reach out to us in case you need any further information pertaining to the same. To help provide more insights and the impact of this programme, we could also facilitate an interaction for you with Mr. Sharda Gautam, Head of Crafts at TATA Trusts. His area of expertise and passion is rural livelihood – strongly believing that rural producer collectives are key to solving rural poverty and rural to urban migration.