Antaran is an initiative of Tata Trusts to bring seminal changes in craft development, beginning with the Handloom sector, designed to transform traditional crafts through a multidimensional approach for technical, design, enterprise and market development interventions to strengthen craft based livelihoods. Antaran creates awareness about the rich heritage of Indian handloom and handicrafts, bringing due recognition and returns to traditional artisans for their unique skills through a five-year comprehensive program. Incubation & Design Centres are set up in select lesser-known clusters of Assam, Nagaland, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, managed by a professional team. These Centres work as education and business development hubs for artisans, enabling them to evolve as designer-weavers and build a community of micro-entrepreneurs across the handloom value chain in each region.
Antaran, which is part of craft based livelihoods programme of Tata Trusts through its handloom intervention aims to arrest drift of weavers, particularly younger generation from the sector. Overarching objective is to create locally led microenterprises across each element of value chain viz. pre-loom, on-loom and post-loom activities. It aims to create 50 micro-enterprises in each cluster with 500 associate weavers, linked to them. These enterprises would be completely owned by weavers, pre-post loom service providers envisioned to earn an annual revenue of Rs 25 lakh. Finance for the program in Assam is facilitated by CML an associate organisation of Tata Trusts.
Prior to Antaran intervention in Kamrup- Assam, most women wove cloth only for personal use or for local community sales. Artisans engaged with program are mostly from villages located on banks of Brahmaputra River, vulnerable to frequent flooding almost every year – causing heavy destruction. Procuring good quality yarn, working on colour schemes and motifs other than those for themselves were not known to the weavers of Kamrup earlier, as they had never worked for outside markets Through an intensive course across 6 months learning about new techniques, designs, quality, markets and much more with Antaran Team, the Kamrup artisans have come a long way, successfully setting foot in the domain of commercial weaving for first time in their lives! Concepts of seasonal trends and colour schemes were imparted. Changes in looms such as four-shaft, jack lamb system and drum warping were some of the techniques introduced in the cluster.
Weavers are assisted in conducting business in a professional manner after they enhance their weaving skills. They are guided on aspects of business planning, costing, pricing and calculating lead time and connected directly to buyers for regular business. Their products and clusters are also promoted through various exhibitions and social media regularly.
The Antaran Program at Kamrup cluster looks forward to promoting holistic model of sustainability, ensuring socio-cultural acceptability, helping in reviving traditional methods of dyeing and weaving. It is economically viable as it eliminates middlemen and promises artisans returns commensurate to their efforts. Lastly but most importantly, the program encourages ecologically sound practices such as use of only azo-free dyes, promotes use of organic cotton and non-violent way of getting Eri silk.
- One full-fledged Incubation and Design Centre (IDC) in Kamrup and one recently established in Nalbari to train artisans and serve as handloom business hubs.
- Return to natural fibre like Eri and Cotton with awareness of their value.
- 200 weavers registered under the programme.
- 21 Artisan Entrepreneurs nurtured and directly connected to buyers.
- Revenue of Rs 16.18 lakhs- generated by 26 weavers in FY- 2019-2020 though region was badly affected by heavy rains and they had low/no capital to begin with.
- The business gave them an opportunity to learn new things about commercial weaving, designing and new markets.
- 15 weavers got exposure outside North-East region for first time by attending various Fashion Weeks and Antaran led Exhibitions.
- Successful Market Linkages with frequent repeat orders from trusting buyers.