Rabha Women Weavers Association in West Bengal, India
Entrepreneurship and design development for Rabha women weavers in West Bengal, India.
Goal: To enable women forest dwellers to use their traditional skill of weaving to earn a livelihood by providing marketing support for access to urban markets, introducing contemporary designs, and providing 9 months of basic business training.
Seed Funding for Operations: $10,000 grant in December 2015
Partner: Foundation for Rural Recovery and Development, (FORRAD)
With our seed funding, Rabha women weavers were trained and supported in design development and marketing.
The 16 Rabha women are from Garo Basti in Rajabhathkhawa, and Mendabari and Andu forest villages in Chilapata forest division in Alipurduar district of West Bengal.
A local production coordinator was hired in early 2016 to manage purchase of raw material, monitor production, provide quality control and arrange collection and transport of finished goods. Initial yarns were purchased and training workshops were conducted. Initial weaving began with 10 women earning stipends. An Indian designer worked with the weavers to create a product range for the urban markets. The group is also marketing its product in the local market in the nearest town, Siliguri.
Our partner in India is the Foundation for Rural Recovery and Development, (FORRAD), a support organization for smaller grass root groups, working nationwide in the field of rural development since 1980. Sarmistha Lahiri, founder and secretary of Hast Karigar Society, was hired by FORRAD to implement this project.
Hast Karigar Society (HKS) is a membership based organization of traditional artisans, weavers and folk painters with its office in Delhi. HKS provides design and marketing support to its members and organizes workshops and exhibitions in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Kochi annually. One of HKS’s objectives is to revive dying crafts, arts and weaving. Hast Karigar Society has around 300 members.