Wednesday, June 17, 2009

XLRI alumni connect with artisans

XLRI Alumni Connect with Artisans: Art work centre begins in Khash Mahal, bamboo and handloom products on sale via exhibits, online

Jamshedpur, June 16 (The Telegraph): At a time when most MBAs are trying to secure jobs, these youths have come forward to help young rural artisans of the city.

Parichay, the first social venture of XLRI, which was launched last October, has now started a handloom craft centre in Khashmahal, Parsudih. Employing 12 artisans, all between 25 and 30 years, the project aims at distribute their creations to interior designers and also exhibit them for direct sale.

“We started on June 1 with bamboo products but now we will expand our activities. We want to trade in tribal craft that has good utilisation value. Though the art is demanding, we want to cut across stereotypes,” said Vikas Sharma (Class of 2009), one of the founders of Parichay. Sharma also works at Corporate Sustainability Services, Tata Steel.

Besides bamboo and handloom, terracotta, dokra, stone carving and tribal paintings are being looked at. The objective is to create a fusion of various forms of tribal arts, which will have good utilisation value. Only then can they ensure sales.

At present, their product range includes corporate gift items like conference bags, pen stands and visiting card holders. Other items include candle-stands, salt and pepper shakers, trays, kids’ chair, lamps and gift boxes — all priced between Rs 90 and 1500.

The project is funded partly by the students, a three-member team and partly by the Social Entrepreneurship Trust at XLRI. Samekit Jan Vikas Kendra is also working with the core team. All the 12 artisans are directly employed with Parichay and are paid between Rs 2,000 and 3,000 per month depending upon the number of days they work.

Since October last year, Parichay has recorded a turnover of Rs 1.2 lakh. Besides advertising its products on its website, where one can shop online too, it has plans to exhibit its products at various national and international exhibitions. The team is also looking at possible tie-ups with organisations like All India Craft Association. It is also associating with two designers from International Institute of Fashion Designing, New Delhi, to conduct a workshop for the tribals at Khashmahal Mahal.

“The idea is to market our products across various outlets of the country. Apart from designers, who are professionally involved, I am taking the help of all the XLRI alumni,” said Sharma.

Plans are already chalked out for the future. After creating employment opportunities, the centre plans to create housing facilities for the families and even pay them more than the government norms of Rs 100 per day. The whole idea is to make villagers self-sustainable and make them understand the value of art and quality products.

“The progress has been great within a year. I think with proper dedication, Parichay will develop,” said Madhukar Shukla, chairperson of the Social Entrepreneurship Trust of XLRI.

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