Employing over seven million families in India, the craft sector is the country’s 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.
Tata Trusts and Microsoft India today signed a Memorandum of Understanding to jointly rejuvenate the handloom clusters in the Eastern and North-Eastern parts of the country. Through this collaboration, both the initiatives will leverage each other’s strengths to provide business & communication skills, design education and digital literacy to handloom weavers so that they may build a sustainable future.
Microsoft’s ReWeave initiative, helps preserve traditional weaving forms by upskilling, design, marketing, and entrepreneurship, besides creating sustainable livelihood options. Project ReWeave successfully implemented new e-commerce platform, digital empowerment centers and the new design curriculum to Telangana weaving clusters of Rajouli, Chottuppal, Pochampally, Naryanpet & Gadwal and shortly in Warangal & Siddipet clusters. Microsoft will enable digital training through Project Sangam, a Microsoft Azure based Learning Management System.
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.
Pavithra Kumar, Chief Program Director, Tata Trusts said, “Often, these communities are marginalized and do not receive much exposure to modern technical amenities or training to develop business skills. Through this initiative, we want to empower artisans and bring them up to par making them competitive in the industry.”
“As a part of our philanthropies’ programs in India, we are focused on reviving some of the forgotten and fading handloom forms in India’s textile heritage. Our partnership with Tata Trust will help reach down to the grass-root level of the weaver clusters and train them, hence building a digitally inclusive society,” said Anil Bhansali, CVP Cloud & Enterprise and Managing Director, Microsoft India.