BENGALURU: A clutch of online marketplaces has begun partnering with artisans to bring their products within reach of city customers, a move that is helping keep traditional rural craft alive.
One such online bazaar, GoCoop, has signed an agreement with the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to provide beneficiaries of NSFDC, NBCFDC, and NSKFDC – the constituent corporations under the ministry – a marketing platform, training, infrastructural and field-level services, and support to help their artisans get market prices for their products and scale up.
“There is a large need for marketing intervention for rural producers,” said GoCoop
founder Siva Devireddy
. “An individual weaver in India cannot sustain.” Devireddy, 38, counts some big fashion retailers in the US and Europe among its 6,000 customers. Launched in 2012, GoCoop’s marketplace showcases products by 60,000 artisans from 20 clusters in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Orissa.
It aims to reach out to 100 clusters over the next three years, eventually supporting 1 million artisans on the platform. Currently, 40% of its sales are from B2B buyers. With the rise of ecommerce, several government agencies are looking to tie up with online marketplaces to boost presence and demand. In August, the Ministry of Textiles signed an MoU with Flipkart to provide an online marketing platform to handloom weavers and boost manufacturing. A month later, India Post associated with Snapdeal to reach out to philatelists with their stamp offers.
Snapdeal and India Post have also launched a partnership for Varanasi weavers to list their products on the Delhi-based company’s portal. The post offices will act as a drop off point for sellers, and India Post will be delivering it to the buyers. Snapdeal will also create an ‘India Post’ store to feature the associated sellers exclusively.
“India has a number of unique and highly specialized art forms and weaves. However, with fast changing fashion trends and readily available products, we are losing out on this rich heritage,” said Kunal Bahl, CEO and co-founder of the online marketplace. “If we don’t act now, soon the rich designs and weaves will be extinct.”
The Indian handloom market, estimated at Rs 24,000 crore, is powered by 630 clusters and 600,000 cooperatives. “India has wonderful treasures that goes hundreds of years back, but artisans do not receive their true value, which makes them economically vulnerable,” said Nagaraja Prakasam, an investor in GoCoop. “GoCoop is addressing this issue by making their products available online, reducing the pro- ducer-consumer gap.”