India is a diverse country with varied cultures, art forms and traditions. It brings richness to the living, life and lifestyle. It reflects in arts and handicrafts – history, aesthetics and exquisite designs. Since the ancient times, traditional art and handicraft industry has been providing employment and livelihood opportunities. In 21st century, it is also recognized as one of the drivers in creating inclusive job opportunities and helping in sustainable development. However with the onslaught of fast paced mass scale production methods, survival of the traditional arts and handicrafts are at stake. The handicraft sector is the second largest and is next to agriculture in creating employment and livelihood opportunities in rural India. It is the largest decentralized and unorganised sector. It is also important to note that the traditional art and handicraft artisans form the backbone of the non-farm rural economy. Over the years, these traditional art forms and handicrafts have lost their demand in the market and artisans have taken up alternative means to support their families.
UTHHAN: Empowering artisans. It is the first initiative in India where profit from artefact sales goes directly to the artisan families without any middlemen.
Uthhan means “Racing towards top position from a downtrodden condition”. Its logo represents 5 different colors with each color has a head and 2 hands holding each other. The color represents the main artisan communities as per their skills. They are all holding each other to empower the artisans.
NO MIDDLEMEN FOR ARTISANS
Uthhan aim is to enroll maximum families as per the region and district and collaborate under the roof called UTHHAN. Once the families are enrolled, it helps them to create handicraft designs which are popular in the market. Its research and volunteer team will do the necessary analysis and guide them in a better way to create the products as per the demand. Since it is an online market place, it is pushing artisan families to give emphasis on variety rather than quantity. The payment from end user will go directly to the respective artisan accounts without any middlemen. Handicraft products are high on demand and our effort will help in a reduced consumer price.
ARTISANS’ APP: The UTHHAN mobile application is available in English, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu so that it can be easily operated by an artisan. It has given a toll free number for needy artisans to contact us to understand about the process more. Once the financial empowerment is achieved, it aims to help UTHHAN artisan groups with Education scholarship for their children, personal accidental insurance and housing for artisans.
CHALLENGES OF ARTISANS IN INDIA:
Artisans are underprivileged in India. There are many challenges faced by artisans of India. Their ignorance about the emerging ways of online marketing and interference of middle men are the major reasons. The other challenges are:
a) Wages are not fixed as per the quality of product
b) Raw material procurement and warehousing
c) Younger generation is reluctant to take up the job because of zero job respect and lesser pay out
d) No support from Government bodies
e) Ignorance about the consumer needs
Business Model: The revenue model is very simple. 95% of the profit from sales goes directly to the artisan families and 5% for UTHHAN operations. Price is decided by artisan itself. The opportunity of UTHHAN is enormous because of the segment itself. I want to address in a simple way, because I still think that any initiative has to evolve through different strategic processes. I strongly believe that we are upholding a skill which is a part of our Indian culture by empowering underprivileged artisans. This opportunity has to be addressed by way of periodical brain storming, awareness campaigns, training, creative designs and a simpler user interface application.
Vision: Upliftment of Indian Artisan community by showcasing and selling their products worldwide, eliminating the role of middlemen.
Mission: Setting up physical outlets and online stores for selling artisan products without any hassles. Creating housing, education and insurance benefits for artisan families under UTHHAN.
Strategy: As a business UTHHAN has to add more artisan families and volunteers. There is no challenge in sales because of the demand. So the strategy should be to create awareness, give training, create elegant designs and showing transparency. Transparency is the primary aim of UTHHAN and the mobile application ensures the same.
UTHHAN TILL NOW:
UTHHAN mobile application is launched in multiple languages (English, Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam & Telugu)
Enrollment of more 10000 plus artisan families already completed
Artisan Identification Card(AID) is issued to the families Under the scheme
More than 100 plus NGOs and artisan organizations are helping us to identify & enroll artisans across India
Wide array of products from artisan families are already displayed
UTHHAN is already giving revenue to more than 5000 plus artisan families
UTHHAN toll free number is inaugurated by P. J. Kurian (Deputy Speaker of Rajya Sabha). It is helping the underprivileged artisan families to contact us and share their ideas directly without any middlemen.
UTHHAN future Projections:
Setting up industrial sheds for bulk manufacturing
UTHHAN outlets across major cities in India
50000 families under the project
Educational scholarships, Life insurance and housing for at least 5000 families
Setting up colleges for artisans with skill related courses
Job for at least 3000 graduated Artisan youths under the scheme
UTHHAN: Uthhan chose to support artisans’ community as it is largest population in India. Artisans represent the Indian culture and we are empowering them. Even though India is known for its cultural diversity the people who are the torch bearers are leading a pathetic life. Their art-making fetches zero value making them run for their bread and butter through labor work. Their skill and dedication is inherited from generations. So to make one product it may take days, months or even a year to finish the products. Uthhan started to reward them with right value.
UTHHAN is a platform which enables them to get the end user, who will pay the exact value for their art. Its CSR activities empower or upgrade some sections of community or a cause. It ensures transparency to empower a community who are the heartbeat of the country.