Cottage Industries in India

cottage_industry

The term “cottage industry” is used when products are manufactured on a small scale. India is well known for its large number of traditional cottage industries. But with the advent of industrialization, cottage industries witnessed a sharp decline. Cotton weaving, carpet making, leather industry, etching, basket making, texile making, pottery, etc are some examples of cottage industry products.

A cottage industry is often characterized by its enormous potential for employment generation and the person getting employed is basically regarded as a self-employed one. It has been empirically found out that cottage industry has given economic independence to the women in the developing as well as developed countries. The income of the manufacturers is harmed by middlemen who offer low prices to them but take heavy chunks of money from the buyers. These workers have given their whole life to stitching and knitting. The skill that they possess is just unmatchable. But still they are at the same place where they had started years ago.

Well-known organizations like Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) is working towards the development and endorsement of cottage industries in India. Other premier organizations are Central Silk Board, Coir Board, All India Handloom Board and All India Handicrafts Board, and organizations like Forest Corporations and National Small Industries Corporation are also playing an active role in the meaningful expansion of cottage industries in India.

What can we do to help Cottage Industries, avoid middlemen from taking away large chunks of profits, and help streamline resources and funds to these unmatchable skilled labor all over our country?

Etsy for India

Can we develop a common platform where a seller of retail cottage industry goods (for example, decorative pots, pretty etchings, hand woven clothes and carpets, etc) is able to directly sell his or her product to consumers without any middlemen? The seller can make much higher profits. Instead of building the brand name of a company, the sellers would brand themselves through the system. Based upon the quality and creativity of their product they would receive reviews from customers and get higher visibility.

The biggest challenge here is that these artists don’t have access to internet. So there needs to be a good amount of groundwork to get their products online and sellable. There should be an organization that aggregates goods from cottage industry artists and directly supplies them to the consumers, making the artists visible on the internet, and taking a small cut for process costs.

Can we possibly link the cottage industries to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR of Medium and Large Scale Industries ? One idea is to supply hand made paper and cloth bags to big grocery stores like Reliance Fresh in India, and including this as part of Reliance’s CSR to directly help the individual cottage entrepreneurs.

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