Microsoft Philanthropies leverages technology to empower handloom weavers in Telangana

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Hyderabad: Microsoft India today announced the launch of a new e-commerce platform re-weave.in, for handloom weavers under its Project ReWeave, part of its Philanthropies initiative. This e-commerce platform will help connect artisans to the buyers directly enabling them to expand to newer customers and markets.

The new ecommerce website hosts signature collections created by the weaver communities, showcase traditional designs and products created from natural dyes. This e-market place will help sell to a broad set of customers, supporting weavers increase their income and earning a sustainable livelihood while also reviving traditional forgotten Indian art.

Microsoft in association with National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) has also curated a special curriculum in ‘CAD and Color for Handloom Weaving’ to provide digital training in handloom design.

Today, at a special ceremony hosted at NIFT, the first batch of 100 handloom weavers were awarded certificates for successful design course completion. Since its inception, special emphasis has been put on skill development using ICT and digital tools in critical aspects such as upskilling, design, marketing, and entrepreneurship, besides creating sustainable livelihood options through Project Sangam, a Microsoft Azure-based Community Training Platform.

Digital empowerment centers have been steadily expanding to more weaver clusters – Microsoft inaugurated two new digital empowerment centers in Rajoli, Choutuppal and will open another center shortly in Warangal and Siddipet clusters. The clusters of Pochampally, Gadwal and Narayanpet have been operational for some time now.

Speaking at the event, Jayesh Ranjan, Principal Secretary, Industries & IT, Telangana said, “Digital technology is changing lives of Indians across every section of society. Working with global technology leaders like Microsoft has enabled us to bring technology to the doorsteps of our large weaver communities in the remotest districts of Telangana. These initiatives like ecommerce marketplace and design training will enable weaver communities to sustain themselves and provide livelihood to artisans. This also is a practical solution to motivate younger generation of weavers to continue with their traditions and not divert into other professions”

Speaking about the initiative, Anil Bhansali, Managing Director, Microsoft India (R&D) said, “With the introduction of our new e-commerce platform, digital empowerment centers and the new design curriculum, the weavers will be able to build on the rich handloom heritage of India and also reach out to a wider customer base. ReWeave ties very well into Microsoft’s mission to empower every person and every organization in the communities we work in by using Project Sangam- our Azure based technology solution and expertise to democratize opportunities and bridge the digital divide.

Chitra Sood, Director, Business Management, Microsoft India (R&D) said, “The Indian handloom industry is the second-largest employment provider for rural population in India with almost 43 lakh weavers. Through ReWeave, we have extended support to handloom weavers and their families to optimize their operations, engage better with their customers and helping them transform their wares. These initial efforts have helped see a substantial rise in the annual income of the weavers in the three weaver clusters.”

Project ReWeave also aims to help the weavers with working capital support through non-profit organizations. Weavers are trained in the use of natural dyes to enable them to make newer and sustainable handwoven products to meet the demands of the socially and environmentally aware consumer.