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Tata Trusts to help artisan-entrepreneurs sell handloom products

Tata Trusts to help artisan-entrepreneurs sell handloom products

Handloom textiles and crafts hold a special place in India's cultural heritage with weaving being a source of livelihood for millions of families. Nowhere in the world can so many diverse weaving techniques be found together in one country.

The crisis caused by Covid-19 has resulted in a sudden disruption of businesses across the globe and the Indian economy is not immune to this pandemic. The handloom sector too, has been severely affected with its traditional and contemporary markets for artisans closed.

The sector has experienced sudden stalling of orders as retailers are closed due to the worldwide lockdown and there are no signs of immediate recovery.

Cash flow has stopped, with buyers unable to make payments and sales down to zero. Buyers are not placing new orders as these are planned in advance with a production cycle of 2-3 months.

Market for the summer season, when cotton handlooms sell most, will be lost by the time things get back to normal. This also impacts the artisans' ability to invest in yarns for the festive seasons, winter and spring time which are the major seasons for handloom textiles.

Being part of an informal economy, artisans are also not able to access credit from banks and financial institutions. While the government may provide free ration and food to some, a majority of artisans who earn on a daily basis will find it difficult to feed their families.

To help the artisans overcome many of these difficulties, the Antaran initiative by Tata Trusts has devised a user-friendly website to help artisans liquidate their stock. Products from Antaran-led initiatives from Assam, Nagaland, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh will be offered by artisan-entrepreneurs at lower prices.

Sharda Gautam, Head (Crafts), Tata Trusts says that customers can pay online to the artisans while the artisans pack products for delivery as soon as the lockdown is lifted. As the transaction is online, artisan-entrepreneurs get money immediately to tide over their financial crisis.

Artisans with help from Antaran are addressing the COVID-19 downturn by improving their product catalogues, reorganise inventory and developing the online presence of their micro-enterprises..