Kashmir 3.jpeg
Asset 161@2x.png

Social Enterprise • Non-Profit • Incubator

Commitment to Kashmir

STARTED IN 2011

By Gulshan Nanda, Laila Tyabji, Gita Ram, Manjari Nirula, Rathi Jha, Ritu Sethi, Gopal Jain

CRAFTS

Pashmina, Kani, Papier-Mâché (Sakhta & Naqashi), Copper, Wicker, Walnut Wood Carving, Wool Felting, Embroideries (Ari, Sozni, Tilla, Crewel & Chain Stitch), etc.

kashmir map.jpeg
CRAFTS

13

ENTERPRISES

37

NEW PRODUCTS

500

ARTISANS

250

LIVES IMPACTED

1,500

Asset 161@2x.png
 

MEET TARIQ

Tariq is a differently-abled artisan from a small village called Gotipora in the Valley. 

Despite being highly qualified, he was denied his dream to become a teacher because of his muscular dystrophy, a childhood condition. But this did not stop him from taking the entrepreneurial route. 

sozni.png
tariq.png

Tariq carved a niche himself as a sozni embroiderer. In 2010, he started his own organisation called Special Hands of Kashmir. Today, it is a source of livelihood for a group of 40 differently-abled artisans in the region.

سوزنی

Gears.png

TARIQ & HIS FAMILY

tariq quote.png

Tariq has 4 siblings and they are all associated with this craft in some manner or the other.

“My father has been doing this since I can remember and this was our only source of income as well. We, all my brothers, completed our schooling and took up this profession.” 

 TARIQ, ARTISAN

The Kashmiri culture is rooted in tradition

Kashmir artisan.png

Many of the craft forms are 700-800 years old and have been practised since the 14th century. 

walnut case.png
shruti quote.png

“In Kashmir, artisans are not looked down upon, they're not lower down in the social hierarchy. Unlike other states, in Kashmir, there is a lot of dignity of labour in craft. Artisans identify strongly with their crafts as a means of livelihood, which is why they are very proud. The only hindrance is whether they’re able to earn money or not.”

— SHRUTI JAGOTA, PROJECT HEAD, CTOK

60% of families are engaged in making or trading handcrafted products.

Every street in Srinagar and every town and village in the Valley continues to have master practitioners of these crafts. But Kashmir’s craft and tourism-led economy has been ravaged by years of political strife and unrest. Continued disruptions to everyday life and lack of opportunities in the Valley has led to a decline in interest from the private sector and MNCs. Unemployment is high, leading to frustration, alienation, and disenchantment among the communities.

families.png
Lock.png

CHALLENGES

Lack of development and infrastructure
urooj quote.png

“There is a lot of emphasis on infrastructure. But if there are long curfews, we know that people can't step out, so who is going to use that centre?" 

— UROOJ, ARTISAN
Long harsh winters
farooq quote.png

“If it's very cold, like it's been snowing, flights are all cancelled and couriers cannot not go out. ...if you have to go to the dyer, or you have to go somewhere else, all of that will not happen. In extreme winters, we cannot actually step out.”

— FAROOQ, ARTISAN
Trust deficit
yasir quote.png

“Although everyone is cordial to each other, there is a huge trust deficit in the Valley on account of the ongoing political tensions. People either work independently or only with people they know, limiting possibilities of collaboration.”

— YASIR, PROFESSOR, CRAFT DEVELOPMENT INSTITUTE
COVID-19
tariq quote.png

“Our products are not only a means of livelihood, but also a way to promote and preserve our traditional craft. COVID has changed everybody's life, definitely mine and my artisans.”

— TARIQ, ARTISAN
Frequent disruptions to communications channels
firdaus quote.png

“Sometimes we will only be able to manage 5 days of productive work in a month. We can't expect the speed, which you can expect from any other place in the country. Movement is so restricted and communication is the biggest challenge. How can we contact anyone - customers, suppliers, family - with 2G connectivity? For months, we sat on orders we couldn’t deploy.”

— FIRDAUS, ARTISAN

*4G internet was only recently restored in J&K earlier in 2021 after 18 months.

Lack of participation by women
inshada quote.png

“Even though the women are highly qualified and would make excellent entrepreneurs, very few of them actually take up that role, or are allowed to take it up because of the lack of trust among people for outsiders.”

— INSHADA, ARTISAN
Lack of private sector investment and support
shruti quote.png

“Nobody wants to fund a conflict driven area because the ROI of funding support is so low. Continuity is a huge issue, which is why most organisations exit the Valley very quickly."

— SHRUTI JAGOTA, PROJECT HEAD, CTOK
 
Screen Shot 2021-04-13 at 9.36.11 PM.png
headline 2.png
headline 3.png
headline 1.png
headline 5.png
headline 4.png

2011

CtoK was launched after the summer of unrest that gripped the Kashmir valley in 2011 and 2012, paralysing the lives and livelihoods of thousands of people.

Through funding, mentoring, and skills training, CtoK empowered craft leaders with a sense of purpose and sustainable livelihoods. They enabled people to take up crafts-based entrepreneurship and revive the handmade sector by accelerating positive transformation in the artisan economy of the state.

2020

working together.png

Post the abrogations of Article 370 and 35A and COVID-19, they set up Zaina by CtoK — a curated social enterprise offering contemporary and authentic handmade products showcasing the beauty of Kashmiri crafts. It enables Kashmiri artisans to access otherwise inaccessible buyers and new markets (both B2B & B2C), providing them with sustained, long-term business opportunities. 

MEET ASLAM

Asset 152@2x.png
 
Gears.png

HOW IT WORKS

A 360° approach to enterprise development

CtoK realised that creating a safe and supportive space for experimentation was crucial. This meant bringing diverse stakeholders together to redefine products and markets.
1

Identify artisans to receive financial support and non-financial support

2

Match grantee with suitable mentor to identify gaps in skill or business acumen

3

Identify co-stakeholders to fill gaps, provide end-to-end solutions in design, production, and marketing

gulshan quote.png

“The only way you can truly support the artisan is to focus on all parts of the value chain, instead of just one or a few.”

— GULSHAN NANDA, CHAIRPERSON, CTOK
4

Provide capital for stock

5

Facilitate buyer linkages and market connect through national bazaars, exhibitions, and Zaina

6

Exit after a few rounds of market exposure and provide need-based advisory

MEET INSHADA

 

The informal crafts sector is one of the pillars of Kashmir’s economy

30 years of conflict and social unrest has resulted in reduced tourism to the Valley. This has depleted markets for artisans as well as isolated the craftspeople from innovation, design and change.

shabbir quote.png

“I discontinued practising craft post the 2016 unrest due to dwindling work force.  Currently, I am into beekeeping.” 

— SHABBIR, ARTISAN

MEET SHABBIR

INFORMAL VS. FORMAL

The crafts sector in Kashmir is very unorganised

Without adequate documentation of craft forms and traditional tools, no minimum wages or standardisation of wages, number of practicing artisans, man-hours spent on a particular work. Artisans are not trained in book-keeping and other techniques necessary to run sustainable businesses, further contributing to the informality of the sector.

Namda.png
Lack of data
shruti quote.png

“In Kashmir, you're either in the making of craft. Or you're part of the ancillary industry, which is supporting the craft, or you're marketing the craft. But the government either has outdated data or no data at all. You walk down any street of Kashmir, knock on any door, you will find an artisan there. In the guest houses we stay in, the cook is actually a pashmina weaver who works there part time. A shikara boatman will also know papier-mâché.”

— SHRUTI JAGOTA, PROJECT HEAD, CTOK
Inadequate documentation

Geo-political isolation from mainland institutions — educational, cultural and state-led — creates a barrier to access. Artisan-led work in Kashmir remains unmapped. This has resulted in a lack of documentation of craft forms, interventions, and processes.

No minimum wages
shruti quote.png

“The lack of record-keeping further impacts the measurement of value. This combined with lack of frameworks that support standardisation and accountability leads to disparate wage rates."

— SHRUTI JAGOTA, PROJECT HEAD, CTOK
Rise in entrepreneurship

The political turmoil has surprisingly catalysed entrepreneurship. The extended curfews and innate trust deficit makes it difficult for people to collectivise. It does however support a ‘work from home' culture in Kashmir, where much of it is shut for many months. 

 
laila quote.png

“The turmoil, the political situation, the violence in Kashmir supports this informal sector. It's because there is no other source of employment in the valley. You can either go into tourism or you can go into craft. There is nothing else, which is why the informal sector is very, very important in the local economy of Kashmir."

— LAILA TYABJI, FOUNDER-TRUSTEE, CTOK
bulb.png

SOLUTIONS

Financial inclusion

Artisans are educated on the retail value and perceived value of their crafts, be it embroidery or papier-mâché. Through intensive costing workshops, they learn how to account for their time, overheads, expenses, and profit mark-ups. 

shruti quote.png

“Before the workshops, some artisans were hardly getting ₹200 for their embroidery, which is less than the minimum wage. This is why they’re leaving the craft and getting into construction and masonry work.”

— SHRUTI JAGOTA, PROJECT HEAD, CTOK
Craft and lifestyle exhibitions

Introduced artisan entrepreneurs showcasing diverse crafts of Kashmir — crewel and tilla embroidery, woven and ari embroidered pashmina, felted namda, and walnut wood carving — to new markets across India through exhibitions as well as exposure to online and offline marketplaces.

laila quote.png

“Before COVID, we were working largely in the bazaars because they are an excellent way for the artisans to get direct customer feedback. When they interact with the customer in-person, it builds trust, it builds understanding and learning — they get immediate, instant feedback.”

— LAILA TYABJI, FOUNDER-TRUSTEE, CTOK
Design and product development

CtoK has organised workshops with market-led design, entrepreneurship development and employment generation at its core.

 

  • 15 design & product development workshops 

  • 37 lead artisan entrepreneurs

  • 14 designers in Kashmir

  • 13 traditional craft forms

MEET UROOJ

 

The CtoK model works best for micro to small enterprises. A small influx of funds results in a huge multiplier effect. Since the government was already working with the larger clusters, CtoK has focussed its efforts on empowering the artisan entrepreneurs and master craftsmen.

money.png

ECONOMIC IMPACT

Revenues of artisans tripled 4x over 4-5 years

manzoor muteen.png
MUTEEN & MANZOOR

1100%

arifa cropped.png
ARIFA

400%

zahida.png
ZAHIDA

60%

Generating livelihoods

Artisans employing 20 people are now employing hundreds of people, generating livelihoods. Arifas increased employment by 400% leading to a 600% jump in revenue.

 

Zahida increased her workforce by  60%, which saw a 30% rise in income. 

social impact.png

SOCIAL IMPACT

Increased confidence and motivation

jehangir quote.png

“I’m far more confident in my craft now. I feel it’s worth investing in because I believe in its potential.”

— JEHANGIR, NAMDA ARTISAN
embroidery 1.png
aslam cropped.png

Greater recognition from their children

aslam quote.png

“After so many years, I am happy about my craft and profession. Until now, my son looked at me as a labourer. Now he tells me I'm a businessman in the making. I want my son to also join me in this craft."

 ASLAM BHATT, COPPER CRAFT ENTREPRENEUR

Building networked communities and collaborations

shruti quote.png

“We were able to create a network of artisans, thanks to additional funding we received from our corporate partner. These artisans could now rely on each other. The partnership not only helped us streamline our own processes but also helped us pursue ambitious collaborations with educational institutions (NIFT, Srishti) and design studios (Studio Coppre) and government institutions (CDI), all of which benefit the artisans.”

women artisans.png
— SHRUTI JAGOTA, PROJECT HEAD, CTOK
 

The handicrafts sector in J&K provides direct and gainful employment to over 3,40,000 people.

gulshan quote.png
“Our ideal situation would be to have it all in Kashmir — packaging, fabrication, multi-craft facilitation centre — because then it would generate employment in Kashmir. Craft is all about local resources. It's about the people, it's about the climate; that's how any craft evolved over time. Pashmina was born in the valley because it's so cold. So they need something that keeps them warm, and the goats are available there. It's a sustainable ecosystem. It's just that we have disturbed this entire ecosystem. It's time for some improvements in Kashmir that work to the artisans' advantage.”
— GULSHAN NANDA, CHAIRPERSON, CTOK

SDGs

download.png
download (2).png
E_SDG goals_icons-individual-rgb-10.png
E_SDG goals_icons-individual-rgb-11.png
download (4).png
sdg 16.png
download (5).png
PICTURES & VIDEOS COURTESY COMMITMENT TO KASHMIR & ZAINA
CtoK logo.png
Zaina Logo.png