Tata Trust, Microsoft to aid handloom clusters

Handloom sector is the second largest employer for rural India after agriculture and employs over 4.3 million weavers and allied workers

April 10, 2019

The ReWeave project preserves and promotes India’s traditional weaving technique through upskilling, entrepreneurship, design, marketing, and sustainable livelihood

Tata Trusts’ Antaran aims to support struggling handloom clusters through a comprehensive programme that would train artisans as designers and entrepreneurs

India has one of the world’s highest concentrations of handloom traditions with the nation’s 29 states each showcasing distinct usage of designs, fabrics and techniques

Driven by the promotional measures, export of handloom products from India rose to US$355.9 million during fiscal 2017-18, with thre US being the biggest market

Tata Trusts, one of India’s oldest philanthropic bodies, and the Indian unit of Microsoft Corp entered into a preliminary agreement on April 10 to empower the handloom clusters in the eastern and northeastern parts of India. Under the partnership, Antaran, a Tata Trusts initiative, and Microsoft’s Project ReWeave will collaborate to offer design education, digital literacy and business skills for weavers. The partnership will leverage both initiatives’ strengths to provide business and communication skills, design education and digital literacy to handloom weavers. Handloom sector is the second largest employer for rural India after agriculture and employs over 4.3 million weavers and allied workers.

The ReWeave initiative preserves and promotes India’s traditional weaving technique through upskilling, entrepreneurship, design, and marketing, apart from creating sustainable livelihood opportunities. The Microsoft-led project has launched a new e-commerce platform, digital empowerment centers and new design curriculum for the weaving clusters in Telangana’s Rajouli, Chottuppal, Pochampally, Naryanpet and Gadwal, with upcoming ones for Warangal & Siddipet clusters. The technology company is targeting digital training through Project Sangam, a Microsoft Azure based learning management system to drive in the weaving communities. Microsoft in India has over 9,000 employees.

Meanwhile, Tata Trusts’ Antaran aims to support struggling handloom clusters through a comprehensive programme that would train artisans as designers and entrepreneurs. The project has initiated intensive work in Odisha, Assam and Nagaland. It will benefit at least 3,000 artisans directly involved in pre-loom, on-loom and post loom processes, impacting the livelihood of weavers in six weaving clusters of these states. India has one of the world’s highest concentrations of handloom traditions with the nation’s 29 states each showcasing multiple distinct usage of designs, dyeing, fabrics and techniques. This has led to strong global demand, from leading fashion houses to vast retail markets.