With the onset of the pandemic, it was crucial to take artisans to digital platforms that were the only channels of sales during the lockdown. CD volunteers and members worked with artisans to create digital catalogs of their products that give buyers an idea of their product range. Each cataloging and onboarding onto digital platform activity had precursor online training in phone photography, SKU coding, making and maintaining line sheets etc.
These trainings, conversations with artisans and experimentation with various hybrid ways of knowledge-sharing led to us building modules and tools around these digital skills and experimenting with the artisan-saathi program.
As an extension to the capacity building modules and programs, in 2022, we decided to collaborate with Digital Empowerment Foundation, for contextual digital skilling in the sector. Digital Empowerment Foundation is an integral digital action organization that works towards information empowerment, creating equitable communities by providing digital access to information, knowledge and capacity. With an expertise of over 20 years in enabling the masses, through functional digital literacy, media literacy, and digital up-skilling across agriculture, micro and nano-business, health, education, livelihood, and entrepreneurship, DEF is expanding digital capacity-building to the traditional handmade sector.
In 2016, DEF initiated a SoochnaPreneur model across rural India to serve various information services needs of citizens through a pool of rural entrepreneurs who strengthen and democratize the environment of digital services. Based on this model CD and DEF are developing and implementing an Artisan Digi-preneurship model for the sector. This model focuses on nurturing artisan youth, attuned to digital technologies, as entrepreneurs for their clusters who provide key services to strengthen the supply chain. These would include sector-specific services like photography, catalog building, onboarding on selling platforms, archiving, networking and connecting with buyers, designers, etc as well as citizen services, online banking services and more from the SoochnaPreneur service bank.
Recce visits, general digital literacy training and recommendations from on-ground members help identify the right candidates for the role of a digital entrepreneur with a zest to learn, grow their business ethically and service the community in sustainable ways. An identified candidate with an entrepreneurial bent of mind and passion is then trained with focus on the role, connected with the right experts in various fields based on the needs of the community being served and given hardware support – laptop, tablet, printer, biometric device and more to embark on the journey.
An artisan entrepreneur will be an integral part of the CD collective and the DEF networks and would form the bridge between various such networks and their community. Regular meetings, refresher trainings, knowledge-sharing with other young artisan champions will help catalyze their digital movement along with constant support and monitoring from CD and DEF.
Watch this space for stories of Digi-Preneurs in making from across various creative communities in the country and their journey of technological change within the community!