Unlocking the power of craft to change their world and ours
Enabling growth and opportunity for the weavers and crafts sector
While crafts received royal and aristocratic patronage during pre-Independence days and played a central role in Gandhi’s independence struggle, they have slowly lost relevance with the advent of industrialization. Lack of well-developed policies and programs, increased demand, and availability of fake and mass-produced products among other factors have led to significant decline in handloom sales and a serious hit on weaving families and communities’ livelihoods.
Through interventions at multiple levels of the supply chain including the cotton farmers, Marri Channa Reddy Foundation, through strategic partnerships, is committed to unlocking the potential of these artisans, helping them grow with economic dignity, and build more economically thriving weaving and craft communities.
Less than 5000/- per month
67% of weaver household earnings
Weavers committed suicide since Telangana state formation (2014)
Handloom weavers in Telangana
A closer look
Weave the length, weavers are our strength
For decades, weaving communities in Telangana have meticulously preserved the old Indian practice of handloom weaving. Telangana’s weaving industry is the state’s second-largest industry providing employment to thousands of people. These handwoven items are the embodiment of the state’s culture and traditions, owing to their beautiful patterns and crafted to last for generations. At first appearance, this industry honours the state’s history, but upon closer inspection, it is the weaving community’s sole source of revenue.
Handloom products can take several days to make, depending on their intricacy and design, and weavers labour tirelessly to produce the best on the market and many individuals are involved in the process. Telangana has a total of 40,533 handloom weavers, according to official figures. This number includes the ancillary workers. The number of powerlooms has been recorded at 35,762.
The state’s weavers have also come together to create their own organizations for mutual benefit and cooperation. Telangana now has 615 weaver cooperative societies, 157 powerloom societies, 122 garment societies, and 336 handloom weaver cooperative societies. Cotton societies make up the majority of these groups. Silk and wool societies have 33 and 44 members, respectively. The development of societies has provided them with opportunities to connect with one another as well as market their fabric to intermediaries and buyers.
The handloom sector is important for the economy not just because of minimal capital investment and strong export and foreign exchange earnings potential, but also because of its linkage to the rural economy. There are a number of industries that rely on the cotton-to-fabric process.
Most of the handloom workers are from economically disadvantaged groups; about 67% of weaver households earn less than Rs. 5000/- a month. They are already living in poverty and are keeping up with limited resources. Furthermore, the weavers encounter several problems in selling their creations and earning a livelihood. Due to the pandemic and lockdowns, their livelihoods have been hit even more and many are fearing starvation if the situation continues.
Our foundation aims to support hundreds of Handloom and Handicrafts artisans over the coming years by improving their livelihoods through capacity building, market linkage and product design development. We aim to provide livelihoods for hundreds of rural artisans by associating them to domestic and international markets through retail and export, all the while ensuring fair trade practices and they may find pride and dignity in their trade.
Marri Channa Reddy Foundation has over a decade of history working with weaving families and communities, cooperative societies, textile departments and brands to expand opportunity to this unorganized economy. The main objective of the foundation is to uplift the craft and empower the people behind it through a more focused 360° approach. From the looms of Pochampally, Karimnagar, Warangal, Uppada, Ponduru to the Kalamkari hand block prints of Pedana, the foundation is leaving no stone unturned.
How do we do it?
We address the challenges and advance the weaver and craft economy through high impact and scalable interventions in partnership with industry experts
Due to lockdown and lack of social security, most of the artisans left the looms and took up odd jobs like selling vegetables, working as security guards or daily labourers to sustain their livelihoods. Even during these tough times, Marri Channa Reddy Foundation has extended support to the weaving communities in Telangana from distribution of rations and essentials to pushing for stock purchase and continued production orders.
Under Savithramma Skill, training and upskilling initiatives are being introduced to encourage weavers by giving them a better livelihood as well as enhancing the value of the craft. This skilling initiative will leverage strength to provide business and communication skills, design education, and digital literacy to handloom weavers so that they may build a sustainable future.