There are untold stories disguised by the rhythm of the looms which can be heard in every village of India.
The Indian handloom sector preserves ancient traditions passed down over many generations. The largest cottage industry in the country is also the second most substantial economic activity that provides many rural entrepreneurs with a sustainable livelihood. With the use of agricultural products as raw materials, it gives life to both farmers and weavers.
With over a third of the country living in rural areas, often trapped in poverty, professions like weaving, farming, animal husbandry, dairy farming help these families earn a living.
Why do weavers need micro-loans?
Many weavers come from low-income families and are married into low-income households.
Despite its importance, there is little credit available for weavers from such homes. Lacking financial literacy, assets or proper incomes, they can never reach out to in banks or formal institutions.
Master weavers (a majority of weavers work for skilled or well-connected weavers) control a large number of weavers and take advantage of their plight. They don’t give them the income they deserve but rather a meagre amount to keep them working. They give them loans and advances which, over time, can make a weaver entirely indebted to the master weaver.
Lack of Raw Materials
They also suffer from a shortage of raw yarn.
In the past, the government supplied yarn primarily to the co-operative sector where there were power looms and good technology. For rural entrepreneurs who operate from home, they had to pay a high price and scavenge for yarn from various middlemen.
A majority of rural weavers also live far away from the main markets where goods are traded which gave rise to middlemen. The traders know the market well and are able to meet new demands which, in turn, lets them dominate the existing marketing channels. But even though the profit margin is high, they block the flow of the benefits.
Microcredit that makes a difference
We believe that with microcredit, we can abolish poverty by giving weavers a chance to stand on their feet.
By investing in a weaver’s business, you give her a chance to work towards a better life. The low-cost nature of the loan allows them to work independently and purchase yarn in bulk at affordable rates and even work towards improving her marketing channels or sell her weaves on her own.
Rang De loans have transformed the lives of over 4800+ weavers with the help our 10,500+ social investor family and we have seen tangible changes in the lives of these women.
Aruna Devi, for example, hoped to replace the thatched roof under which her rustic wooden loom was placed with a tin roof. It was only with the help of our Impact partner, SEVA, that she managed to get support for her weaving venture and complete this aspiration. Being the sole breadwinner of the house, she also developed multiple sources of income and put together every single rupee she could to ensure that her family lived under adequate shelter.
Babubhai Rathod, hailing from Gujarat, was striving to keep Tangalia, a unique handloom art form, alive. With the help of two loans from Rang De, he was able to build a work shed where he could weave more products with ease and eventually provide an income to several weavers in the region.
One of our latest impact partners, Aagor, is on a mission to free women in Assam from physical, social and financial bondage. They help women, many of whom previously worked as house maids, pursue weaving by imparting them with knowledge and skill so they can be liberated from the household drudgery many of them are enslaved to.
Working with over 110 women weavers in around 12 villages, they are impacting many families on a large scale.
Weavers from all over the country are now able to get support from people who believe in the sector and want to keep our traditions alive.
For all the beauty of the products that they weave, we hope to restore the vitality in their lives with your support.
Thank you for helping us support around 4800+ weavers with sustainable livelihoods.
Help us bridge the significant gap between talent and access to credit so that we can give financial support and social redemption to the weavers of India.
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