THE INITIATIVE: EMPOWERING TRADITIONAL CRAFTSWOMEN

THE INITIATIVE IS OFFERING FLEXIBLE WORKING CONDITIONS TO TRADITIONAL CRAFTSWOMEN AND CONNECT THEM TO NEW MARKETS

What big bet are they making?

The Initiative sustains handcrafting practices while empowering an underprivileged group with a sustainable income and increased personal independence. The Initiative is a social enterprise founded in 2013 to provide sustainable livelihoods to low-income craftswomen. The Initiative currently trains and employs women to make handcrafted Godhadis, which are blankets native to the Maharashtra-area. They provide sewing machines to their employees if needed, allowing the women to work conveniently from their homes. The employees are paid per piece produced with no fixed rental costs, and are given the freedom to decide how much time they commit to work. The Initiative gives the craftswomen design guidelines that leave plenty of room for individual creativity.

What challenge is the big bet solving?

Craftswomen are usually tied to their homes due to housekeeping responsibilities. Traditional values and practices reinforce this tendency by deterring some women from opening bank accounts and using mobile phones. This combination makes it extremely difficult for the women to possess jobs outside the home.

How is the Big Bet innovative?

The Initiative introduces a flexible business model that focuses on the craftswomen’s life and needs. The women are able to balance work hours with other responsibilities, obtaining a much-needed balance in their everyday lives. By reducing the gap between craftswomen and markets, The Initiative welcomes a largely underutilized group to the labor market, and empowers their personal independence by providing them a job they can perform from home.

What is the current situation?

The Initiative currently employs 13 women around Mumbai/Pune in the Maharashtra-region. The Initiative previously employed 39 women, but was faced with a variety of operational issues – e.g. attracting sufficient orders to guarantee the craftswomen a sustainable income. Consequently, The Initiative decided to downscale to focus their efforts on ensuring a sustainable income for those in most need. They have received financial support and advice from UnLtd India in 2013 and were a part of Techno-serve’s accelerator-program for business support in 2015.

The Initiative
The Initiative
Arushi Aggarwal, Founder