National Culture Fund (NCF) is an organisation under Ministry of Culture, Government of India (GOI) that assists in preserving and promoting India’s culture and heritage. NCF’s primary mandate is to establish and nurture Public-Private-Partnerships (PPP) in the field of heritage.
The NCF has supported (March 2013-February 2016) Gujarat State Women’s SEWA Co-operative Federation Limited (GSWSCF), an initiative of Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA). Since its inception, GSWSCF has been responsible for sowing the seeds of growth and catalysing the formation of 106 co-operatives and providing livelihood to 90,000 women workers.
Design Sewa, a design house established by the Federation, acts as an incubator to support the artisans in design development and product diversification. The idea is to link design input with livelihood generation. With NCFs support, the Design Sewa has so far organised 1,000 artisans from 11 women artisan groups for revival of their craft, providing linkages with the market, enhancing their incomes.
The objective of the project is to help women artisans of the informal economy achieve economic security through traditional livelihoods.
The master craftswomen and other artisans did not have space to do their work efficiently and creatively. There was need for space and environment to pass on their skills to next generation.
The challenges faced by the artisans:
- Lack of demand and non-availability of large market.
- Non-availability of raw material and credit.
- Unavoidable adoption of alternative economic activity due to fast industrialisation due to low economic returns.
- Craft skills were not being passed on to the next generation.
As pre-project activity, the base-line survey was conducted to assess the skill-set of artisans and stakeholders. This was followed by training programmes that were conducted in five districts: Ahmedabad, Mehsana, Surendranagar, Patan and Kutchh. The process followed was as follows:
- Organising members.
- Purchase of kits for training.
- Organising the training in leadership and co-operative education.
- Organising design development workshop for the master craftspersons.
- Organising refresher training for re-skilling.
- Exposure visits from their village to SEWA Federation and affiliated co-operatives.
- Selected artisans visit the artisans in other states.
Through this project, GSWSCF is working towards reviving the traditional arts and crafts and providing sustainable livelihood opportunities to women artisans.
Till date, 800 women artisans participated in various skill upgradation training programmes and 250 members participated in various self-development and organisational development training programmes. 50 artisans from five districts were given exposure to the crafts places like Jaipur, Madhya Pradesh, Sewa Ni Haveli, SEWA promoted co-operatives and malls in Ahmadabad. 22 members organised into two SHGs with the input and training provided by the Federation, which gave identity to their work and increased negotiation power. After joining the training programmes, the concept of collective livelihood has developed, which has helped women to get better and regular income.
GSWSCFs promoted SEWA Kalakruti—a retail outlet in Ahmadabad city—based on collective marketing strategy.
Key pillars of the project are:
- Skill upgradation of the artisans;
- Marketing support and linkages; and,
- Revival and restoration of the crafts centre Design SEWA.