HYDERABAD: Employing over seven million families, the craft sector is the largest source of employment after agriculture. In addition to having a high potential of employment, the sector also has great economic importance in terms of foreign exchange earnings.
Despite this, the sector is grappling with problems like the inability to produce high quality market driven artefacts and low access to domestic and export markets. Handloom weavers, particularly the young ones, are drifting away from the sector at an alarming pace, thus painting a not-so-happy picture.
To empower the weavers, Tata Trusts and Microsoft India signed a Memorandum of Understanding to jointly rejuvenate the handloom clusters in the Eastern and North-Eastern parts of the country, company said.
The ollaboration will leverage each other’s strengths to provide business and communication skills, design education and digital literacy to handloom weavers so that they may build a sustainable future, company added.
The initiative, helps preserve traditional weaving forms by upskilling, design, marketing, and entrepreneurship, besides creating sustainable livelihood options. Project
ReWeave already implemented e-commerce platform, digital empowerment centers and the new design curriculum to Telangana weaving clusters of Rajouli, Chottuppal, Pochampally, Naryanpet and Gadwal and shortly in Warangal and Siddipet clusters.
“Microsoft will enable digital training through Project Sangam, a Microsoft Azure based Learning Management System. This initiative provides necessary training and tools to other weaving communities to help realize their full potential.”, company said.
Tata Trusts’ initiative, ‘Antaran’, aims at rejuvenating ailing handloom clusters through an end-to-end programme which would nurture artisans as designers and entrepreneurs. Through the ‘Antaran’ Initiative, the Trusts have initiated intensive work in Odisha, Assam and Nagaland.
The programme will benefit 3,000 artisans directly involved in pre-loom, on-loom and post loom processes, impacting the livelihood of weavers in 6 weaving clusters of these states.
R Pavithra Kumar, Chief Program Director, Tata Trusts said, “The weavers communities are marginalized and do not receive much exposure to modern technical amenities or training to develop business skills. We want to empower artisans and bring them up to par making them competitive in the industry.”
Anil Bhansali, CVP Cloud & Enterprise and Managing Director, Microsoft India said, “As a part of our philanthropies’ programs, we are focused on reviving some of the forgotten and fading handloom forms in textile heritage. Our partnership will help reach down to the grass-root level of the weaver clusters and train them, hence building a digitally inclusive society. We aim to use our Project Sangam to empower the weavers across India so that they can adopt and deploy digital tools to improve their craft.”