Preparing weavers for post COVID-19 era

To minimize the disastrous consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in India’s textiles and handicrafts sector, Women on Wings’ partner GoCoop set up an additional program to prepare cooperatives of weavers and artisans for the post pandemic era. GoCoop and Women on Wings are joining forces to enable the ‘silence of the looms’ program.

Resuming the work
Silence of the looms refers to the fact that weavers and artisans were directly affected by a complete standstill of production and sales during the initial COVID-19 total lockdown in India. For months they had zero income. The program aims at developing the necessary capabilities for the post COVID-19 situation, including a better understanding of the market and of product development. It includes access to the right materials and facilitating the marketing and sale of the handloom and handicraft products, which increases the turnover; weavers – or micro-entrepreneurs – will receive (more) income.

Tailor made program
First of all, GoCoop identified and selected micro-entrepreneurs for the program from four clusters. A baseline was successfully completed in the state of Orissa: what materials do the weavers use, how are they dyed, what colors are used, what is the weavers’ knowledge of the market and production, what is the current turnover level. The knowledge and capacities of the micro-entrepreneurs were compared with what is necessary to continue in the current market. Based on the level of skills, a training program was drawn up. From 12 to 14 February 2021, thirty participants joined in GoCoop’s three days’ workshop on capacity building. From those, ten to twelve micro-entrepreneur weavers will be short listed for more in-depth engagement in product design & development and marketing over the next six months.

Increasing income
Ultimately, forty micro-entrepreneurs and cooperatives will be guided in this program. Each provide work to a small number of weavers and artisans. By training the entrepreneurs in the clusters and providing them with access to the market and other skills, an estimated total of 1,000 artisans can earn a better income. Experts from Women on Wings will also be involved in the silence of the looms program. The experts will contribute to the development of workshops for the clusters in the areas of product development, sales, marketing, quality management and inventory management, later this year.

Women on Wings and GoCoop
GoCoop was founded with the aim of improving the social and economic position of artisans and weavers in India through technological innovation. GoCoop facilitates direct online sales channels for their products and guides local cooperatives and clusters in design, planning and quality management, for which the artisans are trained. Women on Wings and GoCoop have been working together since 2015 on realizing their joint goal of increasing the number of jobs- and livelihood opportunities for women in handloom and handicraft sector in rural India who are connected with GoCoop.