Imagine you have learned weaving and basketry skills passed on through your family. There’s not much call for such things where you live, so you move to a city and find a job in a large workshop. You get paid fifty cents an hour to weave laundry baskets that are then sold on and eventually exported. They’re sold in Britain at an out of town homewares store, retailing for £20. As the maker, you get a small fraction of the final price. The rest goes to the retailer.
If you could sell baskets directly, you could keep a much higher proportion of the price. And you might even choose to lower the price too, with fewer middle-men taking their share. But how would you sell to British consumers? You have no route to market.
The Industree Foundation is working on this problem. Mission Creative Million aims to help a million Indian creatives to coordinate their craft work into cooperatives, and develop more direct markets. It will include a dedicated e-commerce platform that will connect Western consumers with Indian makers, and give them a much greater stake in the profits from their own handiwork.
The same platform, developed in partnership with Sonata Software, will also handle inventory management, accounts and shipping, streamlining business processes as much as possible for cooperatives. They will know what’s selling, and be able to work with designers to create products that appeal more to their markets. Traditional handicraft skills are preserved and valued, and brought into global marketplace.
Mission Creative Million is a ten year plan, as it needs to be to build the kind of partnerships that it needs to reach that many people. So it’s one to check back on. For now, here’s a video introduction: