India should be proud of its rich tapestry of heritage crafts and highly skilled artisans. But thousands of rural artisans across the country struggle to market their products and are invariably at the mercy of middlemen to get their products to the marketplace.
Thanks to CraftsBazaar, a technology integrated platform mooted by technology evangelist, Aparna Challu, it has become possible for artisans to deliver exclusive and unique products directly to Indian and global consumers.
Challu started this initiative in 2015 by building a technology platform, integrating it with payment gateways and logistics service providers, to ensure a hassle-free supply chain. “We then began the process of on-boarding artisans (since 2017) by talking to them to make them understand the demand for such products, not just in India but across the globe, and helped them open bank accounts so the purchaser can transfer the sum directly to the artisan's account and interact with the buyer directly.”
“Over 6,000 artisans have been on-boarded on to the CraftsBazaar platform over the last 12 to 14 months. There are some NGOs and enablers as well. Most of them used to carry huge inventory. They say it used to be a struggle to even recover the cost. Our intent is to integrate and bring such artisans on to India's mainstream economy” she said and continued, “while every large brand in India and the global MNC brands are known, the driver for me is to take this rich crafts heritage beyond our boundaries”.
Over 40,000 products are on display on the company's site. The products include home decor, apparel and accessories, paintings, art work and vintage products that one might never get at a retail store or a value proposition of his/her choice.
To a query on funding, she said “it is self-funded, but going forward, we may raise it in the next 12 months.” The company is planning to set up 25 CraftsBazaar hubs this fiscal. “These hubs will provide the last mile connect with the customer. We are planning such hubs in the north-eastern part of the country, western and central India, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Telangana in the South.”
CraftsBazaar would set up experience stores in places of tourist importance. One such store would be opened in Coonoor soon, Challu said. “We have also chalked out a plan for conduct of 12 melas across the country this year. CraftsBazaar's revenue target this fiscal is Rs 50 crore. The founder is targeting a five-fold increase in revenue in the next 3 years