IIM Sambalpur, Flipkart ink MoU to promote businesses of artisans & weavers


Sambalpur: Indian Institute of Management, (IIM) Sambalpur signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Flipkart, India’s homegrown e-commerce marketplace, to promote weavers and artisan business through digital platforms and startup enterprises.

This MoU follows the partnership announced between Flipkart and IIM Sambalpur in August 2021 to support and promote small businesses, artisans, and weavers by leveraging technology, e-commerce platform, and market insights.

The MoU was signed virtually in the presence of Smt. Usha Padhee, IAS, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India, by Prof. Mahadeo Jaiswal, Director, IIM Sambalpur, and Mr. Rajneesh Kumar, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, Flipkart Group. The leading master weavers were also present along with faculty, staff, students of IIM Sambalpur, and media journalists.

As part of this MoU, IIM Sambalpur will identify clusters of artisans and weavers within Odisha to onboard them with Flipkart’s Samarth program, connecting their businesses to a pan-India customer base. In addition to this, the artisans and weavers will also be offered training on business management, marketing, accounting, etc., by IIM Sambalpur while researching their pain points and challenges.

According to India Brand Equity Foundation, the Indian handicrafts industry has more than seven million regional artisans and over 67,000 exporters/export houses promoting regional art and craftsmanship in the domestic and global markets. The state of Odisha has a rich history of various forms of handicrafts, such as the popular Pipli and stone craft called Sukuapada, among many more. With this partnership, these art forms and their makers will get exposure to a large customer base while significantly improving their earnings and understanding of business management.

“The Indian handicraft industry is one of the largest employment generators and accounts for a significant share in the country’s export. However, the artisans and weavers who constitute a large part of the industry lack relevant skills to grow their business and are limited by geography sustainably. Through our partnership with Flipkart, we will be solving certain fundamental challenges faced by this section of the society by offering them business insights and understanding challenges in their value chain while bringing them online through Flipkart’s Samarth program. Such industry-academia collaboration for artisans and weavers is one of the first-of-its-kind in India. It highlights the inclusive vision of IIM Sambalpur, which is taking definitive steps to improve their lives.” Prof. Mahadeo Jaiswal, Director, IIM Sambalpur, said.

Commenting on the collaboration, Rajneesh Kumar, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Flipkart, said, “As a homegrown company, we are committed to creating opportunities for our artisans and weavers through technology and in collaboration with our ecosystem partners. The MoU with IIM Sambalpur is a testament to our efforts towards truly solving the challenges of these artisans and weavers by providing insights, market access, and building business management skills for them. Our team’s expertise, technology, learnings, and insights serving a pan-India market will come very handy for MSMEs, artisans, and the Indian handicraft industry in Odisha through this partnership with IIM Sambalpur.”

Expressing her interest in handlooms, Chief Guest, Smt. Usha Padhee mentioned, “Handicrafts are very close to my heart, and I thank everyone for making me a part of this ceremony. Artisans and weavers are at the core of the supply chain, and I encourage Flipkart and IIM Sambalpur to take initiatives keeping in mind the concerns of weavers and artisans. We are also making sure to showcase local handicrafts as souvenirs at the airports to get the proper visibility and promotion. For example, we introduced handloom dress code for officials on Fridays, and we present handicrafts to the government officials at various events stating that wherever we are, we can do our bit of influencing the vocal for the local campaign.”

Post the MoU was signed, the event concluded with the felicitation of Mr. Ramkrishna Meher, Dr. Surendra Meher, and artisans weavers with the master token in the presence of the esteemed dignities.

Under Flipkart’s Samarth initiative, the company has partnered with several states across the country, including Odisha. The partnership with Odisha State Government’s State Institute for Development of Arts & Crafts (SIDAC) is helping onboard renowned Odia brands such as Boyanika, Utkalika, and Sambalpuri Bastralaya, among others, to access a pan-India marketplace through the Flipkart platform.

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