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How Connect2India is enabling remote artisans to 'Go Global' with integrated platform

DECCAN CHRONICLE.
Published Jul 9, 2019, 4:35 pm IST
Updated Jul 10, 2019, 10:33 am IST
Crafts production represents an opportunity to provide asustainable source of earning and employment for an otherwise low-skilled workforce.
Pawan Gupta – Founder and CEO of Connect2India. (Photo: File)
 Pawan Gupta – Founder and CEO of Connect2India. (Photo: File)

The 65 Million MSMEs are the backbone and lifeline of our economy and the budget earlier this week had a slew of measures focused on this sector. Earlier this week, the economic survey highlighted the need to grow exports as a key driver of the growth of the economy.

From Indus Valley Civilization to the 21st century, the history of Indian handicrafts has evolved rigorously. The sector of handicrafts doesn’t just share a bond with the people but their cultural values as well.

 

These are reasons that the sector has received attention from the Government in the budget of 2019-20. The Government announced to set-up 100 new clusters in 2019-20 under SFURTI, which will enable 50,000 artisans to join the economic value chain

Artisans have always been a vital part of Indian non-farm rural economy. Crafts production represents an opportunity to provide a sustainable source of earning and employment for an otherwise low-skilled workforce.

According to the official figures, there are approximately 7 Million artisans in India engaged in the production of craft for their livelihood. Constructing a path for them to move forward and providing them with tremendous opportunities can actually contribute to the overall development of the country at environmental, economic and social levels.   

Apart from protecting and maintaining the cultural upkeep of arts and crafts, this sector holds the potential to propel the economy forward by creating a sustainable source of income for this considerably large sector of the population, while also being a key source of foreign exchange-earners.   

Most of the handicraft continues to flourish due to their utility, availability to the common people and popularity in local as well as foreign markets. There is a prodigious opportunity in the crafts industry globally which has not been leveraged. A key challenge that needs to be addressed in this aspect is the limited exposure of artisans to the newer markets, the blue oceans.

The global market for crafts is USD 400 billion, of which India's share is below 2 per cent, which represents a lot of room for growth for taking our artisans global. Enabling artisans to join the economic value chain would prepare them for getting bulk orders from the overseas market as well over time.

One key solution to address this predicament is to expand the market reach to foreign countries. Trading on a global scale requires a holistic comprehension of the market, which inculcates identifying the potential and available market, demand analysis, historical trade reports, product price trends et.al. Apart from this, recognizing the genuineness of the trade counterparts, getting their trade history, corporate profile, contact details etc., also is an arduous task.

Sensing a need for a digitally managed marketplace, Connect2India was established in 2016 with a single mission to empower 65 million+ Indian MSMEs to go global. With 2.5 Billion Global Trade Statistics, 2 Million+ Genuine Trade Counterparts and 1.4 Million+ Organic Visitors per month, Connect2India is making global trade simple and safe for Indian as well as International MSMEs.

Further, to bridge the knowledge and information gap, Connect2India offers global trade intelligence, global trade counterparts, global trade resources and global trade tools on its integrated trade platform. It also has an active trade helpline and trade forums, along with a worldwide network of trade experts and trade providers, to help the first time MSME exporters.

Connect2India believes that remote artisans are also a part of our microenterprise community and have done a lot of groundwork to enable these remote artisans to export. The vision of Connect2india for craftspeople is a lot more different than any other platform. For them, artisans are the backbone of India’s non-farm rural economy. India has diversity since ancient times and artisans are the most prominent cultural and economic assets of the country. Their vision of encouraging artisans to participate in global trading would not only upkeep the livelihood of the artisans but it will revamp the economical side of India.

Connect2India has a multi-pronged approach and has its expertise in connecting the non-collinear dots of Indian export and helps in generating awareness among artisans to upgrade their skills and product offerings in accordance with the International Market. Connect2India’s focus has entirely been on creating a platform for those who own the skill of producing something remarkable.

Further, for sustainable growth, being aware, visible and competitive on the global platform is very crucial. Digitally empowering the remote artisans and enabling them to go global can provide a much-needed solution and can also strengthen the branding effort to enable India crafts to compete in the global market. Connect2India leverages technology and information to process innovations to increase efficiencies in the craft business, enabling many such remote artisans to Go Global, without any technological, geographical or language limitations.

Pawan, the CEO and Founder of Connect2India mentions about one such customer “Sameer, from Sambhal suburb of Uttar Pradesh, was just 17 when he came to our office and talked about his dream to take his family handicrafts business, Aahil Crafts, global. It was great to meet him, his passion and energy for growing his business globally were unrivalled. The handicrafts business was running in his family for generations and was meeting requirements across states in India. But Sameer had greater plans for his ancestral business, he wanted to take his products global.”

The aspiration of Pawan and his team on setting the strong foundation and the virtuous culture is the reason behind the so-far success of Connect2India, the urge of doing something for the nation has given them the power of building the bridge of symbiotic relationship where Connect2India wants to promote the idea of trading with the international markets.  

Connect2India used a multi-channel approach to make Aahil Crafts globally aware, globally visible and arranged repeat bulk orders for his products with its integrated global trade platform, end-to-end export support, worldwide trade network and the team of trade experts. The awareness also included information regarding the subsidies and government incentive policies formulated by EPCH (Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts).   

Sameer of Aahil Crafts adds “we were supplying our products to various markets in India but that was not enough either for me or for the business, we always wanted to move forward in order to expand our business. Our search for a trusted platform that would help us go global and at the same time, handhold and support us end-to-end led to Connect2India, we found a perfect partner. Their focus on creating a strong foundation among their customers was the charm of Connect2india. They explained the entire procedure to me, their role in the entire process. I spoke to them to understand the market and how it works and Connect2India patiently solved all my queries. Initially, they provided us with a really big order but unfortunately, I was not able to execute such a big order because of credit constraints but that wasn’t a stall for them. The team continued to work harder and have provided orders I could fulfil. Connect2India focuses on execution but their quality of never losing the sight of small things for the sake of the big picture got to me. They made my vision their mission and I am looking forward to growing my business in an aggressive manner globally with Connect2India.”

Similarly, Connect2India strives to connect with the different parts of India with the vision of exposing them to the real world and provide a platform to all those skilled artisans. Giving them the platform is more of acknowledging their participation. While highly unorganized, it is estimated that the handicrafts industry of India has a great potential in the economic development of the country. The handicrafts industry is perhaps the only sector over in rural India that is almost 100% export-oriented and enables direct employment to the millions of rural unemployed artisans of the country.    

According to the ASSOCHAM Economic Research Bureau (AERB), India's handicrafts exports are growing at a CAGR of 5.3 %, further expected to cross Rs 24,000 crore mark by FY 2020-21. Embroidered and crocheted goods (26%), Art metal wares (18.5%), wood wares (15.3%), hand-printed textiles and scarves (12.4%), imitation jewellery (5.7%) are key categories with a high share in handicrafts exports from India. USA tops in India's total handicrafts exports followed by UAE, Germany, UK, and Latin American Countries.

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