Tata Trusts have been working in the area of skill and entrepreneurship development across India for many years. The core focus has been on enhancing skills and livelihood opportunities of underprivileged youth in rural areas. As a part of this engagement, the Trusts have collaborated with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) to help weavers in Northeast India adopt technology, upgrade skills and find new markets, while another partnership with Asian Paints supports the training of school dropouts as painters.
The handlooms of Northeast India hold a very unique position in the world, not only because of rich, diverse designs but also because of cultural heritage. The backbone of this rich legacy is the presence of 2.1 million skilled women weavers in every nook and corner of the region.
However, challenges existing in the handloom sector outmatch the benefits of the rich weaving talent. Only 13.4% of the commercial looms of the country are in Northeast India and their contribution to the country’s total production of handloom fabric is merely 20%. The challenges range from poor design upgrades and lack of business orientation among producers to lack of proper branding and marketing channels, to name a few.
A Tata Trusts and TCS intervention — TCS Ignite — is equipping weavers with technology to improve their earning potential. Under the programme, weavers are provided access to TCS Weave, an online platform, and training to exhibit their designs and market their products on the platform.
The Trusts have also facilitated a ‘Train the Trainer Programme’ for master weavers in the Northeast, a first-of-its-kind initiative in the region. The week-long programme is conducted at the TCS facility in Kolkata. Sixteen master trainers were part of a recent training session. At the end of the programme, the weavers were given tablets with the TCS Weave app installed. Tata Trusts, the Centre for Microfinance & Livelihood (a Trusts initiative) and TCS will guide and monitor the trainers’ progress in the use of TCS Weave.
Painting a new future
Tata Trusts is collaborating with the Asian Paints Colour Academy to train individuals in painting. The Tata Trusts identify and mobilise candidates while Asian Paints provides certified training. Training is provided as per the Asian Paints Colour Academy’s training structure at its training facilities or its mobile / hyper vans. The training, facilitated as a CSR initiative of Asian Paints, helps individuals, usually school dropouts, to explore fresh avenues in self-employment.