EMPOWERING HER VIA DIGITAL TOOLS #SheisDigitalReady
Swaniti Initiative, in partnership with U.S. Embassy New Delhi, supports women’s entrepreneurship following the 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Summit co-hosted by the United States and India under the theme “Women First, Prosperity for All.”
“Supporting Her Empowerment via Digital Tools” program is designed to increase and broaden women artisans’ market access by facilitating training for CSO and NGO representatives on digital tools and strategies required to grow businesses beyond the local marketplace and contribute to the economic growth women artisans and their communities
With a rich and diverse history of art forms, India has a variety of traditional crafts embedded as a culture amongst the rural communities. Artisans form the backbone of the non-farm economy of rural India, as the sector engages the second largest workforce after agriculture in the country; with an overwhelming number of artisans being women. While the artisan industry plays a significant role in India’s economy, it has suffered due to its unorganised nature, poor exposure to latest technologies, the trudges of the middle-men and the absence of wide-reaching distribution channels to market their products to the masses.
For the large percentage of women artisans currently occupied in the sector, there are a number of organisations that work towards improving their conditions through focussing on a few key issues – lack of financial resources, lack of knowledge of marketing, sales, account maintenance, unstable legislation regulating business activities for example registration, accounting and lack of support from financial institutions, particularly in obtaining micro credit. A priority area for organisations working with women artisans has been to reach out to buyers and establish market linkages to ensure a widespread reach of their products.
Technology plays a pivotal role in achieving the afore-mentioned vision, bridging the gaps in the industry and strengthening the businesses as the various existing digital tools can be utilised to expand the scale of sales, unlock access to national or global market opportunities and create a wider audience for products. Such tools enhance the capacity of artisans to effectively compete in wider markets and realise better prices for their products at a minimal cost. Furthermore, with the rising nature of internet penetration in the rural parts of the country, there is a prominent opportunity to digitally promote the Indian artisan industry.
Our engagement aims to train the local civil society organisations who shall in turn train the women artisans and build their capacity for using existing digital tools that ensure wider market accessibility and faster growth of business.
Swaniti Initiative will design and implement 2-day workshops as a part of which hands-on training will be imparted to teach the participants how to use commercially-available technology for the purpose of selling art and/or related products online.
To ensure widespread dissemination of information, the workshops will follow a “train-the-trainer” teaching methodology in order to allow the participants to share their new skills with women artisans from far-flung and rural areas as well as within their communities. The method offers distinct advantages over other training models as trainees typically learn faster and better retain the information owing to having the onus of further knowledge decimation upon them. In terms of impact and coverage, a combination of small-sized and mid-sized NGOs would be able to benefit from the workshop. Harnessing the unique experiences of NGOs working with different indigenous communities, the workshop would also be able to explore potential avenues of collaboration and innovation.
Modules will cover areas like the relevance of digital marketing, business models of ecommerce platforms, digital payments, and customer relationship management systems. In order to develop an effective and specific curriculum, the issues and opportunities for female entrepreneurs will be deeply studied and outlined so as to inform the focus areas for the training modules and shortlisting of appropriate digital tools.
Furthermore, both during the workshops and the follow-up sessions, relationship building activities will be conducted to cement relationships between the subject-matter experts (both Indian and American) and the participants. Participants will also be encouraged to carry out and share their own research with the experts in the period between the workshops and the follow-up sessions.
At the end of each workshop, the participants shall also be presented with a curated resource toolkit which will contain various tools, document resources, case studies, course material and links to relevant websites which push content at high frequencies.
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