“Women are the real architects of society.” — Harriet Beecher Stowe
The word Indha literally means ‘The Broad Base’, it is an instrument that Indian village women use to carry numerous water pots on their heads. It makes perfect sense in the context of Literacy India’s project Indha, which enables and helps women participants carry their load of many responsibilities with ease.
Project Indha was started by Literacy India as an offshoot of Project Karigari. Into its eleventh year now, Indha has touched the lives of scores of women, lifting them out of poverty and giving them a reason to smile. At Indha, women receive vocational training in sewing, tailoring, block printing, vermicomposting, leaf plate making, manufacturing recycled, handmade paper and all kinds of paper products, thereby living up to Literacy India’s vision to empower disadvantaged women and children.
The idea of Project Indha evolved from the rising financial crises in families, caused due to unemployment and many social evils. The youth also seemed to be disillusioned due to a lack of employment opportunities.
Over time, Indha has created its own design capability and has hired its own Marketing, MIS and Quality Control team. Today, Indha has successfully completed ten years of existence. It has increased the number of centres across India with a capacity augmentation too. Indha employs about 320 artisans, thus empowering them and making them self-reliant. What started as Indha craft project is now Indha Limited Liability Partnership. Indha has close to 30 centres Pan India, about 20 trainers and mentors who guide and train the artisans and a management team of 5 members. The products it manufactures include furnishings, bags, folders and paper products which cater to women (70%), children (2%) and unisex products (28%) which include both women and men. It has a waste paper recycling unit which manufactures paper which is used in greeting cards and other stationary related paper products. Artisan centres are located in the states of Jharkhand, West Bengal and Rajasthan. The business model that Indha craft is following is different from Fab India or for that matter SEWA chikan because it is training artisans and then training them through experts from NIFT and IIFT rather than just procuring products as done by Fab India. Indha, however, does not follow the retail format. It has its own exclusive outlets from where the products are sold. It also relies heavily on internet marketing of their products through Flipkart, Amazon etc. Fair Trade Forum has chosen Indha shop as their lead brand. The artisans at Indha are consistently supported in marketing, designing, quality finishing and developing new skills. Indha shop also exports its products to the European Union (EU) and is recognized by the EU as a fair trade brand. Also, it has entered into partnerships with Shopclues.com and Craftsvilla.com. The trained artisans use varied materials to create products with contemporary designs that have international appeal. The capital investment is low and hence the model can be replicated at various centres which have been set up around the identified clusters of these traditional art forms and their origin.
- To improve the income status of the poor through production support and skill training
- To raise the confidence and initiative level of participants so that they learn new skills and areas of work in order to enhance their social and economic status
- To raise funds for other projects of Literacy India
- To hone skills and existing talent of participants through training by professionals
In order to give impetus to the livelihood program, multi-pronged strategies have been devised. It includes
- Identification of products which can be easily manufactured at village level
- Easy availability of raw material
- Identifying the products requiring very short training period to avoid the high inception cost
- Ensuring that market for the product is available
- Ensuring that quality of the produced goods is as good as any other manufacturer in thesame category.