Tackling poverty through a creative manufacturing ecosystem

Industree

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Non-Profit • Producer-Owned • B2B

STARTED IN 2000

By Neelam Chhiber & Gita Ram

LOCATION

INDIA - Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Odisha, Maharashtra, Rajasthan 

ETHIOPIA

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PRODUCTS

Baskets, Home & Lifestyle Accessories, Clothing

ARTISANS 

4,365

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CRAFTS

Basketry, Weaving, Embroidery

LIVES IMPACTED

30K

YOY GROWTH

110%

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DID YOU KNOW?

93% of India’s workforce are in the informal sector

Undocumented, unacknowledged, and lacking the assurance and security that the formal sector provides, Industree has moved thousands of artisan-producers from the informal sector to the formal sector and organised them into producer-owned cooperatives, with the majority of them being women.

 
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CHALLENGES

Unpaid labour of women
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“The key reason why the sector is so under-represented is because in most of these professions, a minimum of 30% to 50% of the work is unpaid labour of the women."

— NEELAM CHHIBER, CO-FOUNDER, INDUSTREE
Lack of data
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“The biggest problem is an acute shortage of data — number of artisans, how much capital they utilise, etc. Because it has so many informal characteristics, there is no real data around the sector.”

— NEELAM CHHIBER, CO-FOUNDER, INDUSTREE
Limited access to capital and relevant technology
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“Most technology calls for the removal of the handmaker and the user of the hand — that is not the right technology for artisans; they need appropriate technology, which doesn’t call for their removal.”

— NEELAM CHHIBER, CO-FOUNDER, INDUSTREE
Lack of sector-specific government schemes
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“The artisan sector doesn’t even have access to schemes which are available to the farm sector. When you look at our farm and off-farm sectors, you see a bunch of disparities that have emerged.”

— NEELAM CHHIBER, CO-FOUNDER, INDUSTREE
Inadequate skills training
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“In the handmade sector, there are very few representative bodies that actually speak for the sector. The net result is that the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship hasn't ever done anything about its entrepreneurship piece, because there's no lobby asking for them to work on it.”

— NEELAM CHHIBER, CO-FOUNDER, INDUSTREE
 
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THE MODEL

6C model — An enabling ecosystem builder

Industree’s holistic 6C model not only supports artisan-producers but has the potential to enable 100 million women to climb out of poverty, become wealth creators themselves and change their life stories by holding a stake in these companies. 
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CONSTRUCT

Aggregation & Infrastructure

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CAPACITY

Training & Skill Building

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CAPITAL

Working Capital

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CHANNEL

Market Access

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CREATE

Design Inputs

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CONNECT

Digital Access & Platform

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“We work primarily with women-centric crafts — natural fibre, apparel, embroidery — because a spirit of co-working is far more fertile in women, thanks to the government's efforts in SHGs over the last 30 years.”
— NEELAM CHHIBER, CO-FOUNDER, INDUSTREE
 
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MEET KAVITA

Kavita, 27, is a Quality Checker working with Industree. She was married at the age of 14 and had her first child at 16. She is now the mother of two sons. Prior to her association with Industree’s Producer Owner Women Enterprises (POWER) project, she was a homemaker where her husband was the only breadwinner of the family. 

 

Today, she is a representative of the partnership between IKEA and Industree, and proud of her journey to becoming an empowered, skilled entrepreneur and contributing to the economy.

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“I believe we cannot profess love for this sector without remembering that artisan work was always self-owned. At Industree, we've only tried to keep two principles of traditional handicraft as a culture — one is co-ownership and the other is co-creation with the artisan.”

— NEELAM CHHIBER, CO-FOUNDER, INDUSTREE
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ECONOMIC IMPACT

Increased and regular incomes

83% producers earn more at Industree than at their previous job
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“My brothers treat me differently now. They are proud that I am earning.”

— PARVATI, ARTISAN-PRODUCER
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Resilience to life crises

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81% of producers have increased their savings
 
78% of producers have purchased assets like gold, televisions, vehicles
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“I didn’t know anything about saving or assets. After coming to Industree, I learned about financial literacy and realised I need to save money for a rainy day.” 

— DEEPA, ARTISAN-PRODUCER
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SOCIAL IMPACT

Women’s empowerment at home and at work

75% women reported greater respect from their families
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“After I joined Industree, my husband has started helping with the work at home. He helps get the children ready, brings food from the store, and takes the children to tuition everyday.”

— SHEELA, ARTISAN-PRODUCER
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Decent and equitable work conditions

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“At my previous job, I was not given opportunities for learning or advancement; here I have been promoted. I feel safer here, and I participate in community meetings. Here, they ask about my family.”

— SHRUTI, ARTISAN-PRODUCER

Improved standard of living for the next generation

85% of producers are working to pay for their children’s education
 
52% of women say they have moved their children to better schools
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“My daughters should study more and become independent women so that they will look after themselves and their lives. This is my goal.”

— DHANALAKSHMI, ARTISAN-PRODUCER
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CLIMATE ACTION

  • Use of natural fibre
  • Creation of a circular economy
  • Minimising waste
  • Usage of renewable energy
  • Reduced commuting distance for artisans
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LEARNINGS

COVID-19 showcased potential of WFH

“We found the pandemic was a very wonderful lens for us to see the advantages of our system."

— NEELAM CHHIBER, CO-FOUNDER, INDUSTREE
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Farm and off-farm go hand in hand
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Artisans work is part-time work because they are primarily agricultural communities. 70% of India’s population is still in rural India. Whether they own land or don’t, these are agricultural communities. If they don’t own land, they work on someone else’s land. This is the primary source of income. 

— NEELAM CHHIBER, CO-FOUNDER, INDUSTREE
Need for integrated value chains
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Building more integrated value chains to bring farm and off-farm closer together will enable the end-to-end benefit to stay within the collective.

— NEELAM CHHIBER, CO-FOUNDER, INDUSTREE
Professional management

The biggest reason for success is professional management and the biggest reason for failure is professional management. 

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— NEELAM CHHIBER, CO-FOUNDER, INDUSTREE
Women will not migrate for work
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Falling labour participation of women is because they do not migrate for work. Industree’s distributed manufacturing model takes the work to them, to their doorstep.

“We build our collectives, we empower our women, wherever they are in whatever they're doing, at their doorstep. The whole concept of work for women has to be built around what their needs are.”

— NEELAM CHHIBER, CO-FOUNDER, INDUSTREE
 
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WAY FORWARD

Enterprises and young entrepreneurs interested in building sustainable and scalable models should look at co-design, co-ownership, and co-creation.

This will ensure that the artisan-producers participating as the workforce feel a sense of dignity.

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“Just because you as a designer or I as a designer have come in and designed the product, doesn't mean we deserve a bigger share of the IP. It has to be a shared IP. Giving artisans a sense of ownership in the brand is just basic respect.”
— NEELAM CHHIBER, CO-FOUNDER, INDUSTREE
 

SDGs

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PHOTOS & VIDEOS COURTESY INDUSTREE