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7 Homegrown Organisations That Empower Indian Artisans

Indian handloom and handicraft artisans can use all the help they can get. Here are NGOs and organisations that are doing their bit to ensure these age-old traditions don't become extinct.

Geetika Sachdev

Over the last few years, the clarion call for 'vocal for local' has only grown louder. India has a large repository of handloom and handicrafts, but it is only in recent times that artisans behind it are getting the attention they truly deserve. Although this is a positive sign, there are several challenges – including the recent Covid-19 – that threaten to pull the rug from under their feet.

These gifted artisans must be protected and supported at all costs since they are the true custodians of several arts and crafts that are in dire need of preservation. Fortunately, there are a few organisations and NGOs that are at the forefront of this movement, making sure the local craftspersons don’t lose out in any way.

Let's take a look at seven organisations that are focused on improving the plight of Indian textiles and handloom:

1. Aadyam Handwoven

An initiative of the Aditya Birla Group, Aadyam Handwoven is a social cause that attempts to create a self-sustaining ecosystem for the most gifted artisans in the country. They currently work with three weaver communities in India – Varanasi, Pochampally and Bhuj. The organisation helps weavers by opening up new markets and ensuring benefits that will create value for the community.

2. 200 Million Artisans

This initiative is dedicated to the 200 million people who depend on craft for their livelihood. An impact-first ecosystem enabler, they partner with organisations to generate insight and inspire action that will benefit the artisan ecosystem. They have registered a huge impact through their work with 30+ fundraisers showcased, raising $30,000 and positively influencing 10,000 artisans across 13 states.

3. Creative Dignity

Creative Dignity is a movement that has brought together over 500 diverse creative producers, small enterprises, civil society organisations and professionals to support artisans and uplift them, particularly in the Covid-19 era. They focus on providing relief and work toward the rehabilitation and rejuvenation of artisans to ensure their sustainable prosperity.

What's more, they have been recognised as one of the 12 ecosystem builders in the list of India's top 50 Covid-19 last-mile responders by the World Economic Forum's Covid Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs.

4. All India Artisans and Craftworkers Welfare Association (AIACA)

A membership-based non-profit organisation, AIACA was established in 2004. Ever since they have been working towards the preservation of India’s diverse handloom and handicraft sector. AIACA engages in policy research and advocacy, implementing a range of programmes that uplift craft producers, and provide them with access to mainstream markets.

One of their most prominent initiatives includes Craftmark – a programme to certify the most genuine handicrafts of India, produced in a socially responsible manner. Today, Craftmark is being adopted by more than 80 craft enterprises, with an outreach of over 1,10,000 artisans across 23 states of India.

5. Dastkari Haat Samiti

This is a national association of craftspersons that hail from regions all over India. It was established in 1986 by social and political activist Jaya Jaitly. Since then, it has helped artisans gain the dignity and self-confidence to have their own voice.

Today, the collective has more than 1,600 members, including individual artists and organisations. They are also the brain behind the ever-popular Dilli Haat, a haat-style market located in India's capital city, that helps traditional artisans market their products.

6. Craft Revival Trust

The Craft Revival Trust, established in 1999, is a non-profit organisation that has been relentlessly working towards the revival of folk art, crafts and textiles, and their practitioners. Some of their most prominent initiatives include Asia InCH, under which there has been the creation of an encyclopedia and resource base for the craft and textile sector.

The information can be easily accessed by artisans and weavers and is a repository of knowledge for researchers, students and consumers all over the world. In addition, the Craft Revival Trust also focuses on research and documentation, policy, advocacy and consultancy.

7. Industree Foundation

Started in 2000, the Industree Foundation tackles poverty through the creation of an ownership-based, organised creative manufacturing ecosystem for women. The organisation works with women entrepreneurs and artisans, particularly those who belong to the marginalised communities in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Odisha and even Ethiopia.

Through their interventions, the Foundation has impacted over 50,00,000 producers over the last two decades. Moreover, they have created markets worth USD 58 million. 

Photo: Shutterstock
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