Tisser : Just Hands

Tisser : Just Hands: Generating rural livelihood and promoting artisans across India

Mumbai, IndiaIndia
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
for profit
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.

"Tisser" is a French word meaning 'to weave'. Tisser aims to weave a rural livelihood network to support sustainable economic development of weavers from the poverty stricken sections of society. Tisser is synonymous with indigenous,fair-traded, eco-friendly fabrics and apparels.

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

What if we could connect rural craftsmen with the urban consumer?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

In India, there are hundreds of indigenous skills which have been passed on for generations. These intricate fabric-weaving, fabric-painting techniques lose out to the industrially produced fabrics as they have better marketing resources and greater urban visibility. As a result, the weavers and artisans turn to alternate means of livelihood. This problem has been heightened by middlemen who provide meager prices for products.

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

We act as a direct link between the artisans and the consumers. Tisser has created an online portal,accessible on all mobile devices, where the rural craftsmen can directly upload their products for the world to see. We provide them inputs on contemporary designs with handwoven ethnic fabrics so they too can compete in the modern apparel market. Our aim is to generate revenue and employment for these communities, so that they continue their traditions and these rare, precious arts are not lost.


Indira Gandhi Award for Women entrepreneurship by Priyadarshini foundation
Impact: How does it Work

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

Tisser has impacted lives of women artisans in many indigenous clusters by giving them design support and market linkage. Giving a specific example, we work with 40 self help women groups in Orissa state , which do tribal hand painting on multiple fabrics . The fabric is weaved by other artisans from,Maharashtra and supplied to this tribal group by Tisser. Thus,Tisser has a pan-India impact by combining several groups of artisans. To give another example, many women do Madhubani art form in Bihar state . These women have inherited this art over generations . Tisser team works hand to hand with them to give them sustainable employment .

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

In the first year of our operations we have reached out and networked with more than 4000 artisans many of whom are primarily women. We have been able to generate employment for more than 60,000 man days in a year. With the income generating on the regular basis, more number of artisans are willing to partner with us. We train them in design and quality techniques so they create finished products, which can compete in today’s markets. Tisser has setup an online portal which allows the rural craftsmen to directly upload their apparels and fabrics which provide wide outreach and greater connect with the urban consumer base. We aim to create 10000 jobs per year in rural India with vulnerable artisans.

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

We are catering to urban customers through various Buyer-to-Buyer platforms. Our customers are small-scale boutique owners, online portals and direct business people in the market in Buyer-to-Buyer and Buyer-to-Clients . Partnerships have been established with multiple offline and online stores for footfall. Partnerships with designers for new and urban designs have been developed. We have entered the ready made segment also with our own branding in clothing for men and women. Self Help group network is used for stitching tasks on dedicated basis.

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

Creation of regional hubs increase our product range and geographical spread. Integrate the small producers into the value chain by developing inclusive value chains and hence increase the revenue generation. Explore collaborations with designers to designs for development of products into the designer brand

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

Several NGOs have cropped up in different parts of the country and they have a similar function of connecting these artisans to the urban consumer. However since Tisser has a wide spread artisan network, we deliver apparels from even the most remote areas of the country. Also these NGOs are generally associated with a single group of artisans, while Tisser is associated with around 60 groups across the country. We also have a well processed supply chain to provide end to end support.

Founding Story

I am an urban and regional planner and have worked in rural and urban development projects for above 18 years. I continue to work with SHGs through the National Rural Livelihood Mission with World Bank . I visit the rural areas regularly and have witnessed how rich is Indian rural community in traditional art. I live in urban Mumbai and see women wearing the hand woven saris bought from high end fashion stores. However the real art and the people attached to the same are in extreme poverty and hence I decided to create this unique network to support the art in a respectable way.


Founder : Dr. Megha Phansalkar , social entrepreneur and urban regional planner Advisory group : Management and financial skills. Regional coordinators at four regional hubs to reach out to the artisans. The regional hubs will be scaled in each state of India . At the artisans and weavers end, we have developed local professionals who are managing respective artisan groups. Importance of setting our regional hubs: • Reaching out to Artisans with new designs • Artisans giving samples to Regional hubs • RH's coordinator to review samples doing QA and QC • Keeping stock of products in Regional Warehouse • Delivering products to customers once order received • Build Network of Artisans • Making payments to Artisans • Funding for artisans • As artisans are rural people to it’s the responsibility of RH's and Designers to tell Artisans with latest Urban trends and fashion • The designers have a deep knowledge of textiles as well as the urban sensibilities. RH's will act as intermediate between Designers and Artisans
Value Chain: Where does your work fit into the apparel value chain? [check all that apply]

Raw Materials, Manufacturing.

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

Designer, Retail Representative - Mass-merchandise Chain.

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

Consumers, Corporations, Designers, Retailers - Department Store, Retailers - Mass-merchandise Chain, Retailers - Discount Chain, Trading Companies, Women.

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

Accountability, Conscious Consumerism, Transparency.

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

Capacity Building, Organizing, Training.

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.

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

Activate Local Know-how for Driving Solutions: Build Opportunities for Workers to Become Leaders, 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?

I want to inspire other budding entrepreneurs to come forward and devise solutions for socio-economic betterment.

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

We have partnered with various artisan based self help group and producer groups.

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