Through the course of this research, we located deep pockets of empathy, innovation, creativity and business acumen. Most importantly, we found that the informal nature of India’s artisan sector is not one of its own doing or choosing.
The ‘New Formal’ is the new normal
An emergent hybrid approach that combines best practices of the ‘informal’ (cultural networks, behaviours) and the ‘formal’ (social protection, data, mobility) in India’s artisan economy. Informal modes of work among rural creative cultures inform business models of creative enterprises who adapt to local contexts to drive productivity, profits, and innovation.
Misunderstood and undermapped
Perception bias against handmade inhibits accurate and context-specific data collection from a diverse and massive community, relegating it further into informality.
One size does not fit all
Given the myriad political, socio-cultural, linguistic, and historical realities in India, one size cannot fit all. This applies to policies and interventions aimed at both informal artisan communities and formal enterprises working in the artisan sector.
Challenges of language, discourse and knowledge
Conversations around informality and creative economies, rooted in Global North contexts, pose barriers to organic inclusion of differently organised creative cultures and craft-led enterprises.
Decentralisation enables inclusion and scale
Enterprises in the artisan sector are differently motivated and cannot be reverse engineered to meet traditional definitions of growth. Scale is undoubtedly possible and is achieved via decentralised collectivisation.
Craft-led enterprises drive sustainability
The ethos of craft-based production is clearly pro-nature and pro-people. The artisan economy has an innate ability to drive socioeconomic mobility, conscious production, and mindful consumption.
COVID-19 as the game changer
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The informal nature of craft-based work has helped many enterprises and their artisans to continue operations thereby building validation for work-from-home models indigenous to the artisan economy. It has also incentivised the accelerated shift to digital.