Avani Kumaon Earthcraft Self-Reliant Cooperative

Avani Kumaon Earthcraft Self-Reliant Cooperative: Creating conservation based livelihood with naturally dyed textiles

Tripuradevi, ÍndiaTripuradevi, Índia
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Revival of the traditional craft of hand spinning, hand weaving and natural dyeing in remote Himalayan villages of Uttarakhand, creating a sustainable rural enterprise that is self-sustaining, strengthens the local economy and addresses conservation based livelihood opportunities of the community.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if the forgotten traditions can be revived to provide new livelihood opportunities?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The project area is among the most underdeveloped in the state. With little commercial and industrial activity, the majority of local families are dependent on the land to sustain them. This way of life is often insufficient to nurture an entire family, many people migrate to find jobs in the plains or work as daily-wage workers. Many within local Bhotia community have given up their traditional textile creation due to the low prices received.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Avani through its work in textile production, aims to create sustainable livelihood opportunities in the Kumaon Himalayas, increasing income levels and decreasing levels of outward male migration from this area. Immediate objectives for the textile program: first, to add significant value to traditional Bhotia-handmade, Kumaoni woolen products by assisting with product development and providing links to high-value markets; second, to provide intensive training to both Bhotias and non-Bhotias in producing quality products from environmentally friendly, natural dyes, rather than chemical dyes, using solar power for energy, rather than burning wood as an energy source.


Janakidevi Bajaj Award for Rural Entrepreneurship in 2011, Most Innovative Enterprise of the Year –Citi Foundation Award, 2012. Sustainable Fashion award 2015 for the contribution in the area of Sustainable Development in crafts by Gov of India.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The main intervention of KEC has been to create contemporary products with traditional skills. Another very important aspect has been the capacity building of a team of rural managers to look after all aspects of the enterprise including quality control, inventory management, production systems and marketing. KEC makes zero waste, low carbon footprint, fair trade products that use only natural fibres, natural dyes and clean energy. It addresses the entire cycle of production from planting of trees for sericulture, cultivation of wild silks like eri and muga, hand spinning, hand weaving, collection and cultivation of natural dyes and making extracts and pigments.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Currently Earthcraft supports 360 collectors and artisans, 95% of them women, in over 50 villages with a turnover of Rs 41,39,021 this year. Out of this, Rs 18,15,058 was generated as wages during this year. Earthcraft has been an established profit-making venture for the past three years strengthening the local economy. Currently over 1100 people have cumulatively been involved with the cooperative. Earthcraft has enabled rural youth especially young girls and socially vulnerable women to become self-dependent. The different sub lines of businesses in this enterprise have the potential to provide employment to more than 4,000 people directly and about 20,000 indirectly. The potential for expansion in the next five years is about 2.5 crores that requires investment in machines, infrastructure and working capital.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Four lines of businesses expansion : • Hand Made Natural Fibre Textiles and Garments-This business has the potential to support about 1500 farmers and artisans over the next four years • Hand Knitted Toys, Accessories and Garments-About 300 knitters can be supported over the next four years • Hand Spun Yarns-About 300 hand spinners can be supported through this business • Natural Products These business lines also has the potential for conserving biodiversity and revive traditional knowledge and community systems.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

This business with a sale of about Rs 37 lakhs last year is self sustaining at its current capacity and is not grant supported. The potential for expansion in the next five years is about 2.5 crores that requires investment in machines, infrastructure and working capital for which we are now looking for support.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Right from the beginning our emphasis has been on local people and local skills. We have invested a lot of time and training in the capacity building of the people involved in our work. This includes the managers as well as the village group members especially the women. The cooperative functions through a holistic approach benefiting social, environmental, and economic issues, ultimately creating a feasible and realistic solution to eradicating poverty. The entire process of production is environment friendly and promotes conservation of biodiversity of local species.

Founding Story

The genesis of the textile business came about in the context of our work with appropriate technology. As we worked on taking solar lights to rural families, we realized that very poor families did not participate as they did not have the paying capacity of even Rs 30 per month to purchase the solar lights. This led us to explore and dissect the livelihood options,especially the traditional artisan community. We discovered the poor wage structures in artisan activity was causing a dilution of skill and the younger generation not wanting to pursue this craft. So we initiated our work with 20 families to preserve and revive the traditional craft of hand weaving and hand spinning in 1999.


RASHMI BHARTI Co-Founder, Avani. RAJNISH JAIN Co-Founder, Avani. RAJENDRA KUMAR JOSHI -manages textile information organization. RAJNISH PANT -Assistant Manager of Kumaon Earth Craft. DEEPA MEHTA-an accountant and part of Avani’s permanent team. SANTOSHI DHAPOLA- in charge of finished goods stock for Kumaon Earth Craft.
Value Chain: Where does your work fit into the apparel value chain? [check all that apply]

Raw Materials, Manufacturing, Consumption.

Your Role: What is your relationship to the apparel industry? [check all that apply]

Designer, Farmer or Farmer Association Representative, Researcher, Supplier - subcontractor.

Target Population: What stakeholder groups do you engage or empower in your work? [check all that apply]

Brands, Consumers, Designers, Farmer or Farmer Associations, Researchers, Technologists, Trading Companies, Women, Youth.

● Intervention Focus: What are you trying to achieve / influence? [check all that apply]

Access to Finance, Access to Social Protection Services (i.e. Insurance, Pension, etc.), Conscious Consumerism, Environmentally Sustainable Practices, Gender Equality, Anti-forced Labor or Anti-Human Trafficking, Physical Working Conditions.

Lever for Change: Select up to 3 ways your work is helping to transform the industry.

Capacity Building, Training, Technology.

Is your project targeted at solving any of the following key barriers?

Hidden from View: Conditions in Forests, Farms, and Factories are Only Visible to a Select Few, A Job is Not Enough: Low-Income Workers Cannot Secure Long-Term Well-Being, Consumers Aren't Motivated to Care: Neither Compelling Reasons Nor Easy Means to Change Consumption Habits, Sustainability is Not Yet in the DNA: Fast Fashion’s Current Model Disincentivizes Value-Driven Economies.

Does your project utilize any of the innovative design principles below?

Unite More than Voice: Tap into Community Capital and Collective Resources, Activate Local Know-how for Driving Solutions: Build Opportunities for Workers to Become Leaders, Disrupt Business as Usual: Target Key Players Who Can Influence the Bottom Line, Transform the Chain into a Web: Link Unlikely Sectors that Open New Pathways to Sustainability.

Innovation Inspiration: When you first conceived of your project, did you think of it as applicable to the apparel industry?


If you answered "no" to the previous question, which industry was your project originally aimed at transforming?

● Replicating in the Apparel Industry: If your project didn't initially target the apparel industry, how are you specifically tailoring it to do so now?
Are you nurturing or inspiring others to be changemakers? If so, how?

The empowerment of disadvantaged women has been a core achievement of our interventions, they can be the biggest changemakers.

● Tell us about the partnerships that enhance your approach. How have you collaborated with others in the industry to increase your impact?

Recently we participated in Vegetable dyes forum, Lauris Castle arches, Couleur Garance, France for natural dyeing training.