These NGOs and non-profits are empowering artisans and reviving handicrafts in India
India is known for its diversity in culture, spread across its states. We find different types of handmade goods and artworks made by artisans and craftsmen in different parts of the country.
However, since the past few years, there has been a drop in the demand for such products with interest of the new generation declining in handmade souvenirs. And this is directly impacting the artisans whose livelihoods depend on handicrafts, especially in times of COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown.
Corporate gifting is becoming a popular trend among organisations, helping build the relationship with employees, and customised goods have paved their way into this business. This has the added benefit of supporting the artisans who make it.
To aid the livelihoods of artisans, many NGOs and non-profits have been selling the products made by them at decent prices fetching them reasonable profits. Social Story lists some of these noble initiatives.
Craftizen Handicrafts is a non-profit that is focussed on the improvement of the livelihoods of the artisans. Founded in 2014 and primarily focussed on B2B model, the organisation connects artisan groups to different businesses that have a requirement for customised corporate merchandise.
They also have a ‘Kalashala’, a finishing school for artisans through a customised curriculum, designed specifically for practicing artisans and craftspersons. The aim is to empower the artisans.
They also have a ‘Patron’ programme where they bring together corporate donors and NGOs working to help artisans and form a structured CSR plan.
Asha Handicrafts Association
Founded in 1975, Asha is a fair trade certified organisation that works with more than 800 artisans across India. They aim to support the artisans by providing them a sustainable market, and also to preserve the artistic heritage of India.
Image: Asha Handicrafts Association
The products come in different types - jewellery, horn bone, wood, ceramic, textile and various handmade decorative products from all over the country. They are made by the artisans at Asha, who have worked with the organisation for more than 25 years.
The products are made with a commercial purpose in mind too, to maximise sales while also maximising the benefits to the artisans and the customers. The profits earned by this social enterprise are used for the social welfare of the associated artisans and their families.
‘Habba’ in Kannada translates to festival. The organisation, founded in 2016, was so named considering the fact that artisans who live in poverty are never in a position to celebrate festivals like most others. The non-profit aims to make every event a ‘habba’ for these artisans.
Rakhis meant for soldiers, an Habba initiative
The initiative works to provide fair profits to artisans across India. An e-commerce platform to ensure that artisans are not deprived of their livelihood, Habba has an honest pricing policy, which gives a complete breakdown of the pricing of the product, and what amount goes to the artisan.
This year, on the occasion of Rakshabandhan on August 3, the non-profit is helping artisans by distributing rakhis made by them to the soldiers at the borders of our country.
Earthy Goods Foundation
With a mission to empower India’s many invisible artisans and rural micro entrepreneurs with skills, resources and capabilities, Earthy Goods was founded in 2007.
Image: Earthy Goods
The Foundation works with micro enterprises, non-profit livelihood-based organisations and artisans to build their ability to create marketable products, meet market standards and earn a secure livelihood.
The non-profit has a Small Enterprise Centre of Excellence (SECE) which creates a supportive ecosystem for micro and small enterprises. It also helps create strategic CSR plans that are in line with the corporates, like corporate gifting, setting up market facilities for artisans, etc.
Assam-based Brahmaputra Fables is an integrated platform for artisans and weavers that sells their handicrafts at a reasonable price. The organisation has taken inspiration from the handicraft industry to try and help mitigate the coronavirus health crisis that has ravaged the country.
Cotton face mask
Brahmaputra Fables is a marketplace for handloom and handicrafts originating from northeast India. The platform sells handicrafts made from metal, bamboo, wood, coconut shells, water hyacinth, Kouna and others, along with handlooms.
To help with the pandemic situation, Brahmaputra Fables is teaching people how to make masks with easily available materials.