Weaving Destination

Congratulations! This Entry has been selected as a semifinalist.

Weaving Destination: A Social Fabric For Change

Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), Kokrajhar, IndiaBTC, Kokrajhar, India
Year Founded:
2009
Organization type: 
hybrid
Project Stage:
Scaling
Budget: 
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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

Weaving Destination promotes the finest ethical eri-silk and vintage inspired organic cotton fabrics and products internationally that are hand-woven by vulnerable indigenous women from the BTC, Assam, India in order to create sustainable livelihood and income generation opportunities for them.

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

What if the creative potential, skills & cultural heritage of indigenous people can be harnessed to create sustainable livelihoods & a more equitable world economically, socially and politically?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Assam is recognized as a human trafficking Hub. Out of 32,00,000 population of BTC, over 11,64,000 are displaced, 60% being women & 20% children. These women living in resettlement camps and other indigenous women in the region are highly vulnerable to trafficking due conflict-related displacement, poverty & no employment opportunities. Recused survivors are stigmatized & vulnerable to re-trafficking due to no economic support & homelessness.

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

Weaving Destination (WD) innovatively addresses both root causes of trafficking & its effects on vulnerable indigenous women including survivors of trafficking & HIV by capitalizing on their own skills & cultural heritage. Ethnic women from the BTC are finest weavers in their region & weaving is inherent part of their culture. WD established weaving centres to create economic platform where women are employed & make a livelihood through their hand-woven fabrics & products (scarves, apparels & handicrafts), that are locally & globally traded by WD. Their skills are continuously enhanced through training. It is also a social platform where women’s leadership qualities are strengthened leading to their empowerment & greater social integration.

Awards

Chief Minister Best Community Action and Development Award 2010;Friendship Forum of India for Economic Growth & National Unity; Social Innovation & Incubation Award (SIIA), Edinburgh, UK;Best Practice recognition by the UNDP & National AIDS Control Org.
Impact: How does it Work

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

A rescued trafficked survivor was employed as a weaver at WD, where she also took training in sewing, leadership & entrepreneurship. After 6 months, she went back to her village, set up a centre & started training local women in weaving and sewing. Now she is successfully running her weaving & sewing centre, makes local dresses & markets products of international quality with WD. Not only she is empowered & a successful entrepreneur, she socially and economically supports other women. With WD's support, many women operate independently as sewists or weavers in their villages. Some women have formed self-help collectives, & connected to local banks through WD. Consumer awareness is also ensured through local events & fashion show in the UK.

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

WD started with few women from villages in 2 districts with home-based looms. Today, WD has 3 weaving cluster centres & 2 training centres across the BTC. Now 334 ethnic women are employed in Eri-silk yarn extraction, weaving, and sewing the end products. One of its weaving centres has a residential campus with capacity for 30 women residents. The women who were unemployed and living in poverty, now make a monthly living in the range of INR 5000 -6500 ($75-100). Many trained women also work independently making apparels for villagers through home based weaving & sewing. Women now are highly respected within families & communities. Families enjoy better quality of life. Many women have become local leaders. Schools enrolments have increased as women are educating their children now. WD has adopted local villages where centres are set-up, working towards overall community development.

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

Our mission is to establish WD as a Global Symbol for women’s empowerment. WD has been successful in trading locally and nationally in India. We are training women’s groups in the North East and Bhutan in replicating the model. We are in the process of expanding internationally through our base in Edinburgh, UK & an online shop on www.etsy.com. We are partnering to trade internationally with various online ethical textile stores & physical fair-trade shops, establish physical WD showrooms, build a vegetable-dyeing facility & set up more weaving centres in the BTC to expand jobs for women.
Sustainability

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

WD started in 2009 with UNDP support. In 2012, it registered as a social enterprise, as profits were generated through trading. The profits are reinvested back into WD, & development of women & communities. We trade locally in North East; nationally in India through government stores, fair-trade shops & exhibitions; & internationally through a UN Gift Shop, online shops, fair-trade shops in the UK; & are fostering partnerships to expand globally.

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

Many NGOs run income generation projects & several competitors market Indian-made textiles, but fail to achieve market presence within the customer base, develop quality & appealing products based on fair trade principles, & reinvest profits back to women creating the products. This sets WD apart. We work directly with weavers, are grounded within the customer base & use innovative social marketing techniques to generate business. Women are engaged as partners in their own development. Fabrics are made of organic raw materials using vegetable natural dyes & non-violent silk rearing practices.
Team

Founding Story

WD began as a welfare & income-generation initiative of an NGO, NEDAN Foundation (www.nedan.in). NEDAN was established in 2004 in rural un-reached areas of the BTC to work with the poorest & voiceless ethnic communities, with a vision to build a society marked by development, equality, peace & human rights where women & youth are involved in developmental interventions. The Founder Chairperson of the organization (Digambar Narzary), hails from the same Bodo indigenous community & region. Being aware of the cultural heritage of weaving in BTC & Bodo women's skills in it, saw its potential for creating livelihood opportunities. Local Bodo women eagerly joined hands in making this a reality.

Team

NEDAN and WD has been co-founded by trained social work professionals (Digambar Narzary from BTC; and Javita Narang). Javita is also a doctorate researcher with the University of Edinburgh, where she saw the potential of expanding WD. All board members come from diverse background including development & corporate experts and entrepreneurs. WD also has local women weavers as part of its board. Internationally, in the UK, WD is joined by sewists and designers, volunteers from the DO-IT-YOURSELF (DIY) sewing communities, graduates from design schools in Edinburgh and New Castle, and advisors from business wing of the Edinburgh University and other consultancy groups.
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]

Advocate/Organizer, Brand Representative, Factory Owner, Non-profit Staff, Researcher, Trading Company Representative.

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

Brands, Consumers, Corporations, Designers, Policymakers, Researchers, Retailers - Department Store, Trading Companies, Women, Youth.

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

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

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

Advocacy, Capacity Building, Policy.

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

A Job is Not Enough: Low-Income Workers Cannot Secure Long-Term Well-Being, 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, 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?

yes

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

Human Rights & Equality, Human trafficking, Poverty alleviation, Sustainable development.

● 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?

Since inception, we belived in the potential of weaving for economic & social empowerment - our 'Social Fabric for Change'.

Are you nurturing or inspiring others to be changemakers? If so, how?

Yes. All the women & youth who work with WD are inspired and are becoming ‘agents of change’ in their families and communities.

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

Yes, with national & international organizations, government departments, online e-commerce textile stores & fair-trade shops.