Tata Trusts and Microsoft India today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) 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 and 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 centres and the new design curriculum to Telangana weaving clusters of Rajouli, Chottuppal, Pochampally, Naryanpet and Gadwal and shortly in Warangal and Siddipet clusters. Microsoft will enable digital training through Project Sangam, a Microsoft Azure based Learning Management System. This initiative provides necessary training and tools to other weaving communities to help realise their full potential.
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. The programme will benefit 3,000 artisans directly involved in pre-loom, on-loom and post loom processes, impacting the livelihood of weavers in 6 weaving clusters of these states.
Highlighting about the partnership, R Pavithra Kumar, Chief Program Director, Tata Trusts said, “We are delighted to partner with Microsoft to digitally educate and further empower these weavers. Often, these communities are marginalised 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’ programmes 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 grassroot level of the weaver clusters and train them, hence building a digitally inclusive society. We aim to use our Project Sangam to empower the weavers across India so that they can adopt and deploy digital tools to improve their craft,” said Anil Bhansali, CVP Cloud & Enterprise and Managing Director, Microsoft India.
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.