West indian culture

How startups are keeping India’s rich artisan culture from fading

India boasts of a diverse cultural heritage and is home to skilled artisans. The country holds the record for the craft sector as the second largest job market after agriculture.

Intricate but aesthetic embroidery, intricate yet innovative patterns and rich colors govern the country’s artisan culture. Whether local or foreign tourists, everyone wants to explore the real India.

Therefore, consumers prefer to spend large sums of money on handicrafts, clothes, etc., which radiates culture and ethics of India.

Since industrialization, artisans have started to lose business. This, along with growing consumer needs, low income rate, lack of market and lack of raw materials, further add to their woes.

The current landscape of the craft sector

Although there are efforts to support the artisan community, they are not enough to support their livelihoods.

A recent UN report indicates that in 30 years the number of artisans in India has fallen by 30%. According to a study by the Commissioner for Handicrafts Development, at present only seven million artisans can earn a living from handicrafts. This is indeed a significant drop, given that the Indian market is huge and extensive.

These statistics illustrate the urgent need for assistance at all levels of the craft community. All artisans seek reinvestment and relevant opportunities to safeguard their cultural heritage, their history and their source of income.

Startups: a blessing in disguise for the craft sector

The startups have recognized this challenge for the craft sector and are helping to uplift the market and the community.

Craftsmen need a hands-on approach. They need to be digitally educated to overcome obstacles encountered as they grow by leveraging the power of technology.

Startups understand the different challenges that artisans face and focus on creating tailored solutions that help boost morale and improve business operations.

Startups pave the way for digital disruption

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the pace of technology adoption last year. Since then, almost all businesses have undergone digital transformations and the craft sector is no exception.

Digitization is helping small craft businesses expand their footprint and enter global markets. However, startups provide artisans with the assistance and technology they need to survive and thrive today.

Startups are leveraging technology to push traditional forms of commerce to tap into the larger market. Whereas previously exhibitions were the only option for artisans to sell their products, they got their identity online with the rise of the internet and social media.

They have had access to a plethora of opportunities to sell their products in the digital space. Startups are harnessing technology to evolve the craft community and the craft industry as a whole. New era solutions such as AI, ML, Blockchain, etc. are used to streamline processes and help artisans.

Enabling products to reach customers

Startups are working on two fronts for the craft sector.

The business model works with famous brands and ensures that they receive handcrafted products from artisans.

Second, they make it easier to purchase items among buyers, typically global SMEs, including shops and sellers, who prefer to purchase items from inventory.

Facilitate the buying and selling process

While startups help bridge the physical-digital divide, they have also made it possible to combine traditional processes with contemporary operations.

They make trading relevant and new-age and further pave the way for innovation in products, processes and platforms.

Startups are also providing the right platform for artisans to sell innovative and eco-friendly heirloom crafts, helping to prevent India’s rich artisan culture from fading away.

Helps reduce the aesthetic gap

In addition, startups are also providing artisans with the necessary help to effectively address the aesthetic gap and meet the needs of modern consumers. To make handcrafted products relevant for today’s times, an innovative approach to design and quality is needed.

Therefore, various companies identify artists, train them and collaborate with them on designs. They also help artisans create new handicrafts, allowing them to sell their own pieces to customers online and offline.

In summary

The startup community has the ability to expand the support and spotlight needed by the craft industry.

Ranging from better exposure in the market to greater means of generating income for their craft skills, they play a central role in the upscaling of the craft community at different levels.

Startups are sparing no effort to prevent the sector from disappearing into thin air and are making concerted efforts to provide the necessary impetus for artisans to grow and proliferate.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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