Antaran is a key intervention of the Tata Trusts’ craft-based livelihood programme, initiated to bring seminal changes in the development of the crafts sector. This comprehensive programme aims to rejuvenate ailing handloom clusters through an end-to-end programme. The overarching objective of this intervention is to transform six pilot weaving clusters by creating entrepreneur-led microenterprises across each element of the value chain. Three handloom clusters, one each in Odisha, Assam and Nagaland, states known for their rich cultural weaves, were chosen in the first year. Incubation and design centres were also opened in these three pilot states as a one-stop destination for buyers, designers, researchers and lovers of traditional crafts. In the second year, three more clusters have been added in Odisha, Assam and Andhra Pradesh each.
Antaran-led community initiatives across four states and six clusters are in: Assam (Kamrup and Nalbari), Nagaland (Dimapur), Odisha (Gopalpur and Maniabandha) and Andhra Pradesh (Venkatgiri).
Antaran works towards strengthening craft ecosystems, building core strength of handloom textiles such as natural fibres, hand-spun yarn and natural dyes, while reviving and reinterpreting the traditional weave designs in these selected clusters for wider markets. Artisans learn about design and business, and are empowered towards entrepreneurship and self-employment.
Key focus areas are:
- Comprehensive training on business management
- Communication and presentation skills
- An upgrade in technical skills to weave in different kinds and counts of natural fibres
- Consistent design education to weavers in batches for five years
- Enhancement of design sensibilities and weaving repertoire of trainee weavers
- Linking weavers to national and international buyers
- Brand building for artisan entrepreneurs
- Establishing clusters as handloom destinations
- Ethical trade practices and competitive pricing
Experienced cluster teams on the ground facilitate end-to-end processes and work for building a cadre of 50 artisan leaders in each cluster, who would drive the change in their respective regions.
The Antaran intervention will directly benefit 3,000 people involved in pre-loom, on-loom and post-loom processes, while also impacting the livelihood of thousands of weavers in these regions. This unique initiative also presents designers an opportunity for creative collaboration with talented weavers from these hitherto hidden clusters.
The journey so far:
In the past two years, Antaran has nurtured around 75 artisan entrepreneurs through its education and development programme across the six clusters, who in turn have passed on the knowledge to 867 artisans. Many more artisans have been benefitting indirectly through increased exposure of the clusters to buyers and markets through Antaran’s sustained efforts in highlighting the uniqueness of each cluster.
Continuing with the mandate of creating enabling conditions for artisans to interact / transact with markets directly, Antaran Artisan Connect marketplace, www.antaranartisanconnect.in , has been created to connect the artisan entrepreneurs with retail buyers directly. This has acted as a major relief for them to handle the market setback in the times of the Covid-19 crisis. Very soon an app-based platform ‘Craft Xchange’, will be created for connecting the artisan entrepreneurs with B2B buyers directly.
The Trusts are also developing a programme on endangered crafts which includes a documentation of the processes, products and people involved in these languishing crafts. The Trusts will then select a few crafts to develop livelihood programmes for artisans engaged in these crafts to effect transformative change.