India Now - page 33

H A N D I C R A F T S & H A N D L O OM S
f handicrafts and handlooms
reflect the richness of a
country’s culture and tradi-
tions, India is wealthy beyond
compare. The handicrafts
and handlooms sector is the second
biggest employer in India, gain-
fully occupying close to 13 million
artisans. It is also a sunrise export
avenue. Handicraft exports grew by
around 18 per cent in 2014 in value
terms, from
23,504 crore in the pre-
vious year to
27,746 crore. Thanks
to the rising demand for gift articles,
apparel, home furnishing and décor
products and furniture from the USA,
UK, Europe, Latin America, Middle
East, Japan and Australia, the Export Promotion Council for
Handicrafts has ambitious targets for the ongoing year. What
also bodes well for the sector is the announcement of the new
Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) merging
five existing schemes and providing incentives in the form of
freely-transferable Duty Credit Scrips, which can be used for
the payment of customs duty, excise duty and service tax.
“This year we are targeting exports worth
29,135 crore,” said
Lekhraj Maheshwari, Chairman, Export Promotion Council
for Handicrafts (EPCH). Considering that India accounts for
just 2 per cent of the global handicrafts trade, plenty of scope
exists for exports to grow.
To Market
Government support is proving invaluable for improving
the overseas prospects for handicrafts and handlooms.
Through the appointed nodal body EPCH, the government
is organising international fairs and festivals to help Indian
handicraft exporters to make inroads in new overseas markets.
“Festivals are an engaging way for potential customers to get
familiarised with Indian handicrafts. Craftsmen take part in
these events, they actually demonstrate their craft ‘live’ for
the benefit of visitors, which generates a lot of interest,” says
Maheshwari. “Themed pavilion and live demonstrations
of handloom techniques effectively showcase the unique
selling propositions and aesthetics of Indian handlooms at
international fairs. Such participation and holding buyer
seller meets in non-traditional and emerging markets has
helped vendors tap markets like Hong Kong, China, Russia
and Australia,” says R Anand, Executive Director, Handloom
Export Promotion Council (HEPC).
Back home, India International Handwoven Fair has
become a sought after annual affair in Chennai, with its array
of cultural events and fashion shows. Developing overseas
buyers’ taste for Indian handlooms and handicrafts does
more than open markets out of the country. It has encouraged
some reputed global fashion brands to source raw materials
from India. “Overseas fashion houses appreciate the intricacy
of Indian crafts and have a distinct interest in them. Dior is
working with Indian embroideries, Hermes has worked with
in the past,” observes fashion designer Aneeth Arora.
Platform for Success
In providing a new sales platform with a wide reach, online
commerce is helping handicraft and handloom vendors to tap
new retail markets in India and overseas. Gaatha, Craftsvilla
and FabIndia are a few companies catering to online buyers.
The government has taken steps to further grow sales via
this medium. Several government agencies including the
Union Ministry of Textiles, the Export Promotion Council
for Handicrafts, the Karnataka Small Scale Industries
Association, the Federation of Indian Micro and Small &
Medium Enterprises and the National Centre for Design and
Product Development have entered into an agreement with
Flipkart to provide an online marketing platform to handloom
weavers. Flipkart will provide weavers valuable market
intelligence and logistical support to scale up. Additionally,
the government is amending policies concerning online sales
in favour of sectoral growth. “Simplifying documentation
for exports and extending the benefit of MEIS to notified
goods despatched via courier or foreign post office from
e-commerce and SEZ units will help sellers with an online
presence,” observes Anand.
Innovative start-ups are also helping artisans get organised
for online sales. Banna Creations streamlines the online busi-
ness process for handicraft makers and co-creates products
with them, while Craftisan is a curated marketplace for arti-
sanal products and Go-Coop charges artisans a subscription
fee to showcase their products online.
Product Makeover
There’s a strong need for handmade products to be in sync
“Festivals are an
engaging way for
potential customers
to get familiarised
with Indian
demonstrate their
crafts live...”
Lekhraj Maheshwari
, Chairman,
Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts
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