Shilp se Swavalamban: A unique initiative to make weavers, artisans and craftsmen Atmanirbhar

The startup launched by husband and wife Architect duo of Rajeev and Sheela Lunkad was started with the idea to fix the biggest lacuna ailing the Indian handicrafts industry.


While Covid-19 may have had a cascading impact on the world economy; it has awakened the spirit of human entrepreneurship in Indian cities, towns and even villages. Being Atmanirbhar has become the buzzword with the age-old myth of 'job security' lying broken. With this as backdrop Direct Create,  a startup launched a campaign “Shilp se Swavalamban” (Empowerment through Craft).

Under this Direct Create has created a web-platform to provide online market space to craftsmen and weavers across India, giving them direct access to the buyers. Under this initiative, exquisitely handcrafted products will be available for buyers and entrepreneurs.  Also products usually sold at inflated astronomical prices in big showrooms will now be accessible at more realistic prices, even being 10-20 times lower, while the majority share of the transaction will go to the craftsperson, providing much needed financial relief to the artisan and neo-entrepreneurs alike. 

The startup launched by husband and wife Architect duo of Rajeev and Sheela Lunkad was started with the idea to fix the biggest lacuna ailing the Indian handicrafts industry - its skyrocketing prices, which put the craft out of the reach of the large Indian middle class.

Worse, in the whole chain of craftsman, middleman, retailer, and buyers; the craftsmen, despite being the creators, are least paid. They are forced to sell their quality crafts at almost throwaway prices and it is either the middlemen or the owners of swanky showrooms that profit. 

The Lunkads believe that everyone has a claim to art and prices need not be exorbitant. Further, while the demand for handicrafts has diminished due to Covid, it has seriously affected the earnings of artisans, who are struggling with heavy inventories, without buyers.  So they launched the campaign “Empowerment through Craft” whereby Direct Create enabled neo-entrepreneurs and craftsmen to register at its website as either maker, buyer, or designer to display their crafts or design as maker and designer. For the neo-entrepreneur (buyer), Direct Create is a Mecca of original best quality handcrafted designs from different craftsmen across the country at wholesale prices.  

This web-based platform also allows designers, craftsmen and buyers to collaborate and start a project of their own. For a buyer, designers and craftsmen can play a role in made-to-order bulk sale deals. This platform has also assembled different handcrafted Gifting Ideas in form of innovative and inspiring packages, which are a combination of various types of handicrafts from across India in one group. They are ideally suitable for the coming festival season. 

According to Direct Create founder Sheela Lunkad, “We have launched an ‘Empowerment through Craft’ awareness campaign post-COVID in various small towns and villages through NGOs and with government collaboration. Till then, the start-up is relying on media and social media to spread the word. Through webinars, Direct Create will guide neo-entrepreneurs and craftsmen on how to run business operations built around handcrafted products. Direct Create is also in discussions with financial institutions and angel investors to support small businesses in the craft space.”

Tags assigned to this article:
weavers Artisans craftsmen Atmanirbhar architect handicrafts

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