With a current Indian market size of Rs. 36,053 crores—and projected to almost double by 2025—the saree enjoys widespread acceptance with concentrated pockets in South & East India*. Yet traditional weaving villages are dying, with younger generations opting to work in cities or in construction, where daily wages—despite being low— are guaranteed. The implications are glaring; traditional handloom weaving & dyeing techniques are being lost.
In 2005, the Chitrika Foundation—an NGO based out of Hyderabad—sought to improve the lives & craft practices of perishing traditional weaving communities in the Telangana area. We recognized the dire need to redefine the value-chain in favour of the artisan and made it our root mission to co-create sustainable business enterprises that are owned & operated by the artisans themselves.
After an extensive survey of the Ponduru area (AP), we were struck with a sobering reality. Highly skilled artisan-weavers were continually employed by large design powerhouses while medium- and low-skilled artisans were left in the lurch! We identified other problem areas and recognized how an inclusivedesign approach—one that took into account existingskill levels & adaptability to traditional techniques—would be key to improvement.
By early 2006, the Foundation organized 10 artisan-weavers and started production near Ponduru, AP. The Foundation trained the weavers in business & strategy planning, computer skills, financial management, product & marketing management, and ERP skills—effectively giving them the means & knowledge to run a self-sustaining business.
Today, the Chitrika Foundation bolsters two producer companies with a collective strength of over 400 artisan-weavers. The Foundation continues to educate and is committed to transforming the “humble” craftsperson into a community builder & collective entrepreneur.
At the heart of Chitrika lies the conviction that collective gain can and should drive every aspect of the value-chain. Which is why we can say with unwavering confidence that every Chitrika handloom piece you buy makes a marked difference in the livelihoods & community resilience of the artisan-weavers we buy from. The Vamshadhara Weavers’ Producer Company and the Godavari Women Weavers’ Services Producer Company are testaments to the kind of “artisan-owned” enterprises we seek to build.