RGVN takes retail route to empower weavers

NGO to go beyond NE to open outlets in Bangalore, Vadodara



GUWAHATI: NGOs and federations in the Northeast are taking the retail route to empower weavers at the grassroots and connect them to buyers in national and global markets.

Rashtriya Gramin Vikas Nidhi, an autonomous, non-profit organisation headquartered here since 1990, has launched a brand, GrassLooms with the objective of providing sustainable livelihoods to indigenous rural weavers.

“The brand was launched here on Tuesday with the idea of providing a viable market for the hand-woven products created by rural craftspeople. The long-term aim is to create a direct weaver-buyer relationship which is mutually beneficial,” Amiya Kumar Sharma, the executive director of the NGO, told The Shillong Times on Friday.

A three-day exhibition to showcase the hand-woven products concluded here on Thursday. The products displayed included a wide range of cushion covers, sarees, wraparounds, stoles, kurtas, runners, mats, chadars, gamosas and yardage.

There are about 200 weavers engaged under the GrassLooms project.

“GrassLooms has enabled weaver communities to consider the trade as a viable source of income. This was achieved by providing support at various levels of the production process,” Sharma said.

The timing of the brand’s foray in the market could not have been better, what with Rongali Bihu round the corner, when the demand for such intricately designed, hand-woven attire is at an all-time high.

“We have set up a showroom at Rajgarh Road here, which will be operational after Rongali Bihu. Subsequently, two more outlets will be opened outside the region, one in Bangalore and the other in Vadodara, as we have partners there who cater to both national and international buyers. The demand for hand-woven traditional Assamese fabrics there is very high,” Sharma said.

Asked whether RGVN has plans to launch retail outlets in other states of the Northeast, he said, “Shillong can be a viable option to start with in the near future.”

As a national level, multi-state development and support organization, RGVN currently works in Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura, Sikkim, Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, and regions of Chhattisgarh, eastern Uttar Pradesh and coastal Andhra Pradesh.

RGVN focuses on livelihood enhancement programmes, microfinance, education and environmental issues.

“We have been working on the development of model villages in Byrnihat (Ri Bhoi district) since the past five years. Of late, we have tied up with a German child rights organization, KNH, and started children programmes in Byrnihat. We also have plans to organize micro-finance programmes in Meghalaya and provide loans under the Mudra Yojana to support micro enterprises there,” the RGVN executive director said.

In 2016, Eri Fed, a federation of 22 NGOs at Boko in Kamrup district, had launched an eri brand, Eriya. The federation had tied up with a Canadian firm, Maiwa, which procures goods made under the brand.

Currently, there are two Eriya outlets, one at Boko and the other at Kohora in Kaziranga, where a number of both foreign and domestic tourists visit every season.

“We have a high production of organic eri and muga products, some of which were showcased at the Pravasi Bharatiya (NRI) convention in Bangalore last year. However, we are thinking about wholesale trade as well as it has become difficult to cater to so many buyers through just two retail outlets,” Chandan Keshab, the secretary of Eri Fed, told this correspondent on Friday.


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