This noble initiative to empower artisans by eliminating middlemen is a must read
An initiative named Uthhan is an endeavour to empower these artisans, by ensuring profit from artefact sales go directly to the artisan families without any middlemen. Leemon Ravi, Founder & National Coordinator of Uthhan tells Free Press Journal Web Editor Renin Wilben all about the he'art'felt initiative
How did the idea of Uthhan originate?
The idea of Uthhan originated in 2012 when I visited one of the tribal artisan colonies in Kerala. I saw those artisan families over there were ready to give their products in exchange for food. Their condition was so pitying that they had no place to sleep or preserve their products. Later we have found out that they are the third-largest population in India and still underprivileged because of middlemen. The value of their products is not reaching them because of middlemen interference. The new generation is not taking up this skill. There will be a huge shortage of artisans in the future. So we decided to start an initiative which can empower the artisans.
Why the name Uthhan?
Uthhan means empowerment. Since we are upgrading these underprivileged artisans this name is finalized. UTHHAN - Empowering artisans is the first initiative in India where profit from artefact sales goes directly to the artisan families without any middlemen. We chose the name Uthhan, which means "Racing towards the top position from a downtrodden condition". Our logo represents 5 different colours with each colour having a head and 2 hands holding each other. The colour represents the main artisan communities as per their skills. They are all holding each other to empower the artisans. The punch line is "Empowering Artisans".
What are the main objectives of Uthhan?
Our Vision is : Upliftment of Indian Artisan community by showcasing and selling their products worldwide, eliminating the role of middlemen.
Our Mission: Setting up physical outlets and online stores for selling artisan products without any hassles. Creating housing, education and insurance benefits for artisan families under UTHHAN
We are currently feeding 10000+ families with almost 50000+ varieties of products. We have a strong online presence and tied up with so many corporate houses across major Indian cities.
We were working to create awareness about the benefits of UTHHAN till now. With the help of our volunteers and NGOs, we are growing at a decent pace and trying to achieve 50000+ families and 500000+ products by the end of 2019.
Our other objectives include:
Setting up industrial sheds for bulk manufacturing
UTHHAN outlets across major cities in India
30000+ families under the project
Educational scholarships, Life insurance and housing for at least 4000 families
Setting up colleges for artisans with skill related courses
Job for at least 5000 graduated Artisan youths under the scheme
What are your views about the present condition of artisans in India?
Artisans are the third-largest population still underprivileged. There are so many challenges faced by artisans of India. Their ignorance about the emerging ways of online marketing and interference of middlemen are the major reasons. The other challenges are:
a) Wages are not fixed as per the quality of product
b) Raw material procurement and Warehousing
c) Younger generation is reluctant to take up the job because of zero job respect and lesser pay out
d) No support from Government bodies
e) Ignorance about the consumer needs
Have you approached the government for help? If yes, what has been the response?
We have approached many government bodies including the Artisan Crafts Board for help. But all in vain. Government schemes are not at all reaching artisans.
What means are you using to promote the cause of Uthhan?
As a business UTHHAN has to add more artisan families and volunteers. There is no challenge in sales because of the demand. So the strategy should be to create awareness, give training, create elegant designs and showing transparency. Transparency is the primary aim of UTHHAN and the mobile application ensures the same. We are reaching the artisan families through our volunteers who are spread across states like Kerala, Karnataka, AP, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Jharkhand, New Delhi, UP, Haryana and West Bengal.
The process we follow is as below
1) Identifying the artisan family.
2) Enrolment by filling up UTHHAN form.
3)ID and address proof documents of the family.
4)Generation of ARTISAN IDENTIFICATION NUMBER (AID, this is a unique code generated by the system).
5)Artisan Product upload to UTHHAN mobile application with the price of the product decided by artisan and bank account opening of an artisan.
6) Order from the customer and the payment from the customer is accepted by way of payment gateway.
7) Packing and delivery from artisan locality to customer.
8) Artisan share of profit directly to his UTHHAN bank account.
Our biggest success was the launch of our mobile application called UTHHAN in multiple languages which allowed us to reach maximum families with a minimal documentation process. The volunteers and artisans can enrol, upload the product, track the sales and payments easily through the application. Tie up with corporate houses became simplified after the implementation of the app.
Uthhan Till Now
UTHHAN mobile application is launched in multiple languages (English, Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam & Telugu)
Enrolment of more 10000 plus artisan families already completed
Artisan Identification Card (AID) is issued to the families Under the scheme
More than 100 plus NGOs and artisan organisations are helping us to identify & enroll artisans across India
A wide array of products from artisan families are already displayed.
UTHHAN is already giving revenue to more than 5000 plus artisan families
Online Registration for Artisans under the Scheme is available.
UTHHAN toll-free number which is helping the underprivileged artisan families to contact us and share their ideas directly without any middlemen.
Uthhan's Social Pages
FB page - https://www.facebook.com/uthhan.org
Instagram - uthhan.gerg
Twitter - @OrgUthhan