Rural craft gets online attention

Online retail companies are now partnering with rural artisans to bring their products within reach of city customers.
Rural craft gets online attention

As online retail companies spread their arms in the hinterland of the country, they are now partnering with artisans to bring their products within the reach of city customers. The development is expected to help traditional rural craft.

One of such companies is GoCoop, which 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, to rural artisans in the country.

The company provides services to sellers on a subscription basis, and also charges a transaction fee for every order processed. It also offers free services like directory and network, enabling rural artisans access to information.

“We are currently focusing on rural producer co-ops in handloom and handicrafts as sellers on the marketplace, and would expand to other sectors over a period of time. We are targeting most bulk buyers (B2B) which includes small entrepreneurs like boutiques, designers to buy directly from the producers. We also received very good enquiries and orders from large international buyers or retailers as well. We have received more than 40% of business from international buyers right now,” said Siva Devireddy, founder of GoCoop.

Devireddy counts some big fashion retailers in the US and Europe among its 6,000 customers. Launched in 2012, GoCoop showcases products by 60,000 artisans from 20 clusters in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Odisha.

“Currently, we are expanding our organization and developing rural marketing and service teams at the clusters. These teams would be built gradually per sector across identified districts or states. We plan to cover 250 districts across in India in the next 5 years,” added 38-year old Devireddy.

With the rapid rise of e-commerce in the country, several government agencies are looking at tie ups with online companies to boost presence and demand. In August, Ministry of Textiles signed an MoU with Flipkart to provide an online platform to handloom weavers and to boost manufacturing. A month later, India Post announced a partnership 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.

Kunal Bahl, CEO and co-founder of Snapdeal, said that India has a number of unique and highly specialized art forms and weaves. However, with the fast changing fashion trends and readily available products, we are losing out on this rich heritage. The Indian handloom market, estimated at Rs 24,000 crore, is powered by 630 clusters and 600,000 cooperatives.

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