SAI’s Livelihood Creation project in underway on the ground in India. The research project, supported by the Tata Trusts, aims to build knowledge and capacity around three key areas: rural livelihood creation (emphasis on the handicrafts and handloom sectors); educational, social and economic empowerment of women; and science and technology-based interventions for poverty alleviation.
By Shashank Shah, Project Director
Last week’s field visits focused on the Rural Livelihoods Creation track, in the IT hub of India: Bangalore. Below is an overview of the organizations that met with the SAI team:
Mother Earth and Industree Foundation:
This organization is a hybrid, with marketing taken care by a for-profit arm (Mother Earth) and the production done by the Industree Foundation, a Trust. Poonam Golani, the Enterprise Development Manager, spoke with us and shared the story of how the organization evolved and the impact it has created in the lives of hundreds of artisans. We also saw the facilities and were impressed with the way quality processes are meticulously implemented. An example we saw was visual indicators for selection of the right tree bark (the organization makes fibre based handicraft products).
The name didn’t have much resemblance to what we witnessed in this place. This store was full of toys, toys, and more toys. Maya Organic is a social business and makes wooden toys which are non-toxic and are colored using natural dyes. It has its facilities in a town called Chanapatna (located 60 km south of Bangalore) where it provides employment to around 100 artisans. The toys are sold under the brand MO in retail stores and also on online platforms like Flipkart and Amazon. Muralidhar, one of the Directors, gave us an overview of how Maya Organic operates. At the end of the meeting we didn’t pass on the opportunity to purchase some toys (at a discount of course!).
Craftizen is a young social entrepreneurship firm that was started in 2013. Mayura Balasubramanian and Rashmi explained to us the unique operational model of Craftizen: The firm focuses predominantly on the corporate sector for handicrafts orders and also connects corporates to handicrafts groups and organizations. Effectively, CSR funding of these corporates is used to create livelihood opportunities in this sector.
Chandra Jain, who shared her story with us, is a passionate advocate for the study of Indian performing and fine arts in urban and rural schools of India. She has been working for this cause for the last 28 years and has organized over 65 public events with the help of experts from across India and abroad. These programs involve training and participation of children from different strata of society at schools, remand homes and orphanages. The events cover diverse themes such as Ganesha, Devi, Vasanta Ritu (spring season) and Kalidasa’s poetry. Her organization has done extensive work with the rural stoneware craftsmen from Shivarapatnam village in the Kolar District of Karnataka. It was delightful listening to her three decade long journey in this field.