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Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship

An Organisation of the Ministry Of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises(MSME),
Govt.of India
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Rural Business Hub on handloom in Kaziranga, Assam

A unique initiative to promote handloom was taken up by IIE by promoting RBH on Handloom in Kaziranga, Assam. The project was conceived in the background of a luxury resort named IORA being set up was the world heritage site and natural sanctuary Kaziranga. There has been a steady increase in the flow of tourists both national and international to Kaziranga and IORA was one of the very few resorts providing comfortable and luxury accommodation in Kaziranga.

Most of the tourists wanted to carry back with them some souvenirs and handloom products of the region and it was found that such products were not available in Kaziranga. At the same time the weavers of the locality had the basic skills of weaving and there was scope for further up-skilling and commercializing their products. Keeping this background in mind the RBH on Handloom in Kaziranga was promoted as a sustainable model to promote livelihood of handloom weavers in two selected villages – Bosagaon and Kulwa of Bokaghat block in Assam.

The project aimed at providing sustained income to the 40 rural weavers by enabling them to become micro entrepreneurs by undertaking skill and micro enterprise management training in Handloom and subsequently doing job work in their own households in the villages. This project was carried out by involving Panchayati Raj Institutions and local community as the guiding and aiding hand. The IORA group provided training to 40 selected weavers through its cadre of master trainers at selected training location in Bosagaon and Sapena Kubuwa villages, which came under the block Bokakhat. After organizing skill up gradation training on handloom further training was provided on product and design diversification awareness. The purpose of the training was to make the handloom weavers aware about the new products and designs running in the market so that they could produce products based on market demand. Accordingly in the year 2009, a MoU was signed between IORA Retreat, Gram Panchayat and the Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship with the following deliverables:

IORA Resort
  • Carryout capacity building of the weavers
  • Arrange handholding in the production process
  • Provide market linkage by 100% buy-back assurance to handloom producers

Village level Panchayat
  • Help indentify producers (beneficiaries)
  • Facilitate convergence of schemes to make resources available for the project, if required
  • Work closely with IORA Resort in scaling up the operations in the village and organize interactive sessions on the best practices and training sessions for the local producers

Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship
  • Review the business plan and progress made quarterly, with all stakeholders and take corrective measures, if required
  • Facilitate convergence to tie-up the funds for the project in a time bound manner

When the project started the initial challenge was selecting the 40 weavers. There were around 300 applications which were received and through a number of innovative exercises like testing of skills, interest, integrity etc. However in spite of all sincere attempt to select weavers, the implementing agency had to face a number of problems and major problem was addressing the problem of part time weavers and their casual attitude towards work. Through continuous handholding and motivation finally a group of dedicated and full time weavers could be identified. The confidence of the weavers grew once they realized that IORA Resort was buying back all their products. All they needed to do was to adhere to the design and quality specification and keep producing without worrying about the market. This has motivated other weavers of the locality and many new weavers have developed relationship with the retail outlet of IORA Resort. Ms. Bornali Sharma is the main person behind the project and she feels that the project has not only helped in creating sustainable livelihood amongst the selected women weavers but has also resulted in creation of goodwill in the areas in and around the resort. The retail outlet is self sustaining and there is no dearth of demand. For visitors to Kaziranga, the handloom products have now become an added attraction to buy handloom products on their way back.

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