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An initiative to fund fellowships for social workers and social entrepreneurs, as a highly leveragable way of helping the development sector, has been launched by Bhoomika Trust in conjuction with StreetEdge Foundation, USA. Bhoomika Trust was approached by StreetEdge Foundation, USA to facilitate their Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship program.

These fellowships are offered to qualified social workers/ social entrepreneurs, who have a passion to make a difference in a particular area of work and wish to leverage their expertise in a particular area. This fellowship is in the form of support to a lead individual (the Fellow) for a specified period to initiate an entrepreneurial approach.

Eligibility
Qualified social workers/ social entrepreneurs with experience OR an entry-level social worker.

Criteria
 • Should have a passion for their area of work
 • Should have done his/her research and be knowledgeable about what he or she wants to do
 • But for the fellowship assistance, would have been unable to pursue his/ her passion and may make alternate career choices

It is NOT meant as a salary replacement for someone that an NGO is likely to hire anyway. But there should preferably be an NGO in the locality of their work, which would be mentoring/ supervising/ vouching for the fellow.

Areas
 • Development sector
 • Advocacy
 • Welfare
 • Entry level fellowship

Applicants can write in to bhoomikaindia@yahoo.co.in for more information.

Current Fellowships
The first of these Social Entrepreneurship Fellowships has been awarded to help revitalize the distressed weaving sector in the Kutch area of Gujarat. This fellowship was made possible by Indians for Collective Action and StreetEdge Foundation.

Fellowship to Meera Goradia
The fellowship being offered to Meera Goradia (the Fellow) was designed to re-energize the weaving sector in Bhuj, Gujarat.

The fellowship encompasses the following:
 • Support to a lead individual (Meera Goradia, the Fellow) for a period of two years to initiate an entrepreneurial approach through an established craft organization for the weaving sector in Kutch, Gujarat
 • The Fellow is working through Khamir, a craft resource centre in Kutch district, Gujarat, India for the weaving sector. The fellowship commenced in April 2007 and will continue until March 2009.
 • The fellowship supports the Fellow to develop livelihood potential, opportunities, and resources of the weavers in Kutch district through appropriate interventions. The fellowship includes associate fellowships for individual weavers/ young designers or entrepreneurs who are from or associated with the weaver community, and who are being nurtured to enable and strengthen the proposed interventions with the weavers.
 • The Associate Fellows are selected by the Fellow based on their experience, skills, motivation, and commitment to achieve the desirable outcomes
 • The visualized outcome by the end of the fellowship period is the development and consolidation of new market opportunities, stable business strategy and technological support and enhancement for the weaving sector.
 • At the end of the fellowship, either Khamir, or Meera Goradia as an individual entrepreneur, will carry forward the consolidated programmes and objectives with the weaver artisans of Kutch.

Meera Goradia's Fellowship - Highlights

First Quarter Highlights: October 2006 - January 2007

Making a Roadmap which identified the following:
 • Bhujodi and Sarli as prime focus villages
 • Ten artisan entrepreneur units of which four were established and stable while six were struggling businesses. Together, they impacted 50 artisans at the backend
 • Fifteen weaver job workers, some linked to the above units, while some were independent
 • New Product Development possibilities
 • Market assessment and testing by way of a solo exhibition for weaves
 • Appointment of a mentor, Dr. Himadri Ghosh

Activities:
 • Two day training on costing with the Tolani Institute of Management, Adipur
 • This was held at the community centre of Bhujodi
 • Design diploma project with NID student, Meghann Sandhu. She was placed in Sarli since traditionally most buyers and designers interacted mainly with Bhujodi.
 • Initiating dialogue with the identified stakeholders for developing new products for the solo exhibition to be held in Jan 2007
 • Developing the KHAMIR brand as an inspirational brand which would showcase new directions for the craft and not compete with the craftsmen's products. Hiring a designer in Ahmedabad, Varsha Sharma for this development.
 • Networking for publicity for the exhibition

Outcomes:
 • Traditionally the two villages of Sarli and Bhujodi have a business rivalry and old animosity. Placing a student designer in Sarli made them more enthusiastic to work together with Bhujodi for the exhibition. The solo exhibition on weaves brought together both Sarli and Bhujodi as well as the different artisan entrepreneurs to work together for a common aim. This had not been attempted in this manner earlier.
 • As a strategy, the KHAMIR brand was developed with the weaver job workers which opened up creative possibilities and market access to artisans who had been traditionally marginalized
 • New possibilities for products were market tested, such as fabric textures, bed linen, table linen, wall accessories, etc
 • The exhibition had a good response, a sale of 17.5 lacs from a stock of 23 lacs. The KHAMIR brand virtually sold out. This generated a lot of hope, excitement and expectation among the weaving community after a long hiatus.

Second Quarter Highlights: February 2007 - May 2007

Activities:
 • Setting up of a weavers' committee to direct the weavers' program and begin the process of ownership and sustainability
 • Intense marketing and networking efforts to change the pattern of production from post sales to pre sales
 • Preparing for a residency program for one of our weavers for a University in the UK
 • Vegetable dyeing workshop with experts from Ahmedabad
 • Planning for the next exhibition in Dec, 2007

Outcomes:
 • As a result of the success of the first exhibition, KHAMIR was able to begin reaching out to a lot more weavers since the artisans now all wanted to get associated with KHAMIR. We began meeting and developing the capacity of individual weaver job workers in other villages like Baladiya, Avadh Nagar, Varnora as well as consolidating the position of those we had developed the KHAMIR brand with. We carried out a survey in Sirachcha village but since the village land was being sold to industries, most weavers were opting to do factory jobs and were in the process of leaving the craft. It was not possible to ensure a stable income to them at this point.
 • Contacting buyers, designers, retail stores and developing the product range of weaves became the focus of this period
 • A new creativity in products also started becoming evident among the artisan units as they began the planning for their new product ranges
 • As a result of the vegetable dyeing workshop, many weaver job workers and entrepreneurs from Sarli and Varnora were able to access basic knowledge of natural dyeing techniques. A tie-up was made for sourcing the raw materials of natural dyes from suppliers in Ahmedabad.

Third Quarter Highlights: June 2007 - September 2007

Activities:
 • Six week intervention with a group of 6 design students from the IICD Institute in Jaipur was planned. They were placed with weavers in Varnora, Kukma and Bhujodi and were able to create a good product range in rugs and accessories, some of them using natural dyes.
 • Monthly meetings with the weavers' committee which comprised 7 members from 4 villages began to be held every month followed by a general meeting with all stakeholders every 2 months. The weavers' committee began laying down the norms for participation, selection of products, future directions for the next exhibition to be held in Dec, 07.
 • Preet Thakker, an apparel design student from NID was taken on for a diploma project. At first the understanding was that he would work for KHAMIR as well as 2 artisan units for a new product range for the exhibition. The artisan units agreed to bear the expenses for the time that Preet would allocate for them. It was decided that Preet would work on the next KHAMIR brand to be presented at the exhibition and this should be completely different from what was done in Jan 07. Since he was strong with garments and surface decoration, he would work on a range of outerwear and accessories while for the weaver units he would work on totally different techniques for shawls and bags.
 • At the same time the project also took on Akansha Parik, a student of weaving, from Vanasthali, Jaipur. Since she had the technical knowledge base for weaving, it was felt that she and Preet would make a good complementary team. Akansha's job was also to set the quality parameters and checking standards for hand woven products and bring in the technical expertise necessary.
 • Beej, a monthly newsletter about crafts and the KHAMIR craft park was started. It was visualized as an interactive and informative medium to link the artisans and craft NGOs of Kachchh.

Outcomes:
 • The intervention with the IICD students enabled reaching a wider spectrum of artisans in different villages. Likewise with Akansha, who worked with blending different yarns to create new possibilities of fabric styles and textures, a new vocabulary of designs got created.
 • However, Preet was not able to work with the artisan units as planned due to a time management problem. It was decided that the same concept should be attempted again in the future with another student as it would be a first in NID's history and a win-win situation for all.
 • KHAMIR began getting orders from Fab India, Yamini and also began experimenting with a new potential - organic cotton. Dialoguing began with Agrocel, which has a strong presence in Kachchh and the Sahjiv Kheti Manch to develop hand woven organic cotton with our weavers as a niche product that could also ensure volumes.

Fourth Quarter Highlights: October 2007 - January 2008

Activities:
 • The focus was more production led... in terms of executing orders, planning the brand for the exhibition and facilitating the artisan units with their product ranges. Profiles and positioning for each artisan unit was designed for the exhibition.
 • Networking and brand building for the exhibition to be held in Dec 07 in Delhi intensified during this period
 • Developing a way to work with the export markets was explored with a Finnish buyer Tikau by planning a range of different products with different artisans over a period of 6 months. A methodology was worked out for labelling, costing and fair trade practice.
 • Planning the future course of action in the context of current learning and working out new proposals, collaborations for 2008-09
 • The second solo exhibition for weavers was held in Delhi
 • Follow up of potential inquiries from top designers as a result of the exhibition

Outcomes:
 • As a result of the orders it was realized that the main problems facing the handloom sector was an absence of support infrastructure like raw material availability, correct dyeing practices, estimating gestation period for orders and common understanding of quality standards
 • It became evident that any step in the future would need to address these issues in addition to timely credit. The next proposal that KHAMIR prepared therefore looks closely at these issues.
 • The second solo exhibition in Delhi in Dec 07 was crucial since it would prove the validity of the course we were advocating. The weavers' committee showed maturity in disqualifying one of the participants whose products were not up to the mark. He was politely asked to apply for the next one when he was ready! The response to the exhibition was equally enthusiastic and that it was better than the first one! This was important to reinforce the brand for Kachchh weaves and this time round sales of approx Rs. 20 lacs in 4 days was achieved as compared to Rs. 17.5 lacs in 5 days of the previous exhibition. Although the sales for the KHAMIR brand was lower than the last exhibition due to the more complex nature of the product, the overall sales for the weavers were very encouraging.

Summary Of Outcomes

Outcomes:
 • KHAMIR was able to reach the different stakeholders in the weaving sector as outlined above. With the women workers, it will take a lot more time and study as the concerns are related to both technology, attitudinal change and creating new opportunities. It requires a sustained and concerted effort as a womens' group. KHAMIR may consider creating a separate intervention with the women involved in weaving.
 • In the attempt to reach the different stakeholders, some equations within the community were ruffled. New confidence and capacity among the smaller artisan units and the weaver job workers unsettled somewhat the established units. KHAMIR had to play a sensitive balancing role in the situation and constantly create opportunities for all.
 • KHAMIR consciously adopted a strategy of cultivating mentorship among the established artisan units and the struggling units and job workers. This was in keeping with the spirit of the community and ensuring sustainability in the long run. In the next phase, KHAMIR plans to take this further by getting the ready entrepreneur units to take responsibility for 5 struggling weavers in other villages. KHAMIR would lend support in terms of credit, design and marketing.
 • KHAMIR was however not able to reach as many artisans as it would have liked. We were able to impact directly and indirectly about 300 artisans but could make an overall impact on the sector in terms of the enthusiasm, hope and message that we were able to give out. The reason was due to a small team, the constant balancing between the stakeholders, moving to the a new campus 15 km away from Bhuj and grappling with the basic problems of the handloom sector such as lack of infrastructural support needed to produce for a mainstream market.
 • This brought clarity for the future directions and a comprehensive plan to set up a craft sensitive textile lab, to systematize chemical and natural dyeing practices in a centralized manner but with decentralized possibilities and setting up comprehensive quality control systems has been envisioned for the next phase. KHAMIR feels that the markets exist and will come, but the preparedness and the services needed to sustain the sector are now the need of the hour.
 • Developing a craft specific marketing strategy of which reinventing the exhibitions model is crucial to the survival of the sector
 • The introduction of new possibilities in the woven products such as fabrics, blends of different yarns, hand stitched made ups, new textures, etc opened up new avenues for selling
 • And above all, revitalizing, generating hope and enthusiasm among all sections of the weavers which in turn gave a new leash of creativity to the weavers

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