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Empowering Weavers In Maheshwar : A Visit to Khargewale

Last week, I had the enriching opportunity to visit Khargewale in Maheshwar, Madhya Pradesh, one of Rang De’s Impact Partners dedicated to enabling the weaver-entrepreneur community.


Founded in 2020 by Nivedita Rai and Sourodip Ghosh, Khargewale aims to transform traditional artisans into thriving entrepreneurs.


During my visit, I engaged with the founders who shared the inception story of Khargewale and the myriad challenges they faced. Their primary issue was and remains the plight of handloom artisans in India - those who continue to earn meagre wages despite a booming global market for handcrafted textiles.


With less than 2% of artisans operating as entrepreneurs, Khargewale’s mission is ambitious: to increase this to 20% by encouraging more organisations to adopt their supportive model. This approach aims to build an equitable craft society by providing essential resources like credit, marketing, and business training.


harish works with khargewale for 4 years

The loans from Rang De were crucial to ensure raw materials and working capital for the weavers. They also helped weavers to build their credit scores as many of them were first time borrowers. After a brief catchup with the founders I was excited to meet the artisans.


When I first arrived at the weaving workshop in Khargewale's office, I had the opportunity to meet Harish, a dedicated artisan with eight years of weaving experience.


Two years ago, Harish joined Khargewale with just one loom in operation. Over time, with the help of strategic guidance and financial support from Khargewale, Harish has significantly expanded his operations. He now owns four looms and has become an employer himself, providing much-needed employment to other weavers who are struggling to find stable work.


This expansion was largely facilitated by the loans from Rang De that allowed Harish to effectively manage his working capital and ensure timely procurement of raw materials. His gratitude towards Rang De was evident as he shared how these funds have not only supported his business growth but also enabled him to contribute to the community by hiring more artisans in need. He has ambitious plans to operate 8-10 looms in the coming years.


Then I visited Mamta Devi who runs a small weavers unit. She has four looms and one warping machine. She has been a weaver for the last 10 years and learned the art of weaving from her mother. She joined The Handloom School, a non profit weaving school in Maheshwar which helped her to upscale her business through social media. 


mamta works with khargewale

Today, Mamta Devi's enterprise is a vibrant workplace for eight women artisans, reflecting her dedication not only to her craft but also to empowering other women. The financial support from Rang De has been instrumental in her growth. 


With a loan from Rang De, she has been able to ensure timely payment of her workers' salaries and effectively manage her unit's working capital. The nature of her business is such that the flow of orders dictates operational dynamics, making access to immediate credit essential. This support allows her to quickly adapt to varying order volumes, maintaining steady production and fulfilling customer demands efficiently.


khargewale weavers

A significant hurdle for small weavers is the lack of access to formal loans due to their modest operations. This scenario contrasts starkly with master weavers who, despite having better access to bank loans, often exploit smaller artisans by relegating them to low-paid daily wage workers. Khargewale’s efforts aim to disrupt this exploitative cycle by ensuring fair earnings and dignity for every weaver.


Khargewale with the support from Rang De Social Investors is actively addressing critical challenges in the handloom industry by ensuring weavers have easier access to raw materials and financial support, which helps mitigate the burdens of long travel and rising costs. 


khargewale weaver working on looms

They also counteract unfair competition from subsidised power looms by supporting authentic handloom products and improving market visibility through enhanced marketing strategies. Additionally, Khargewale assists in upgrading infrastructure within handloom clusters, ensuring basic amenities like water and electricity are available to streamline production processes. This not only preserves traditional crafts but also boosts the weavers' economic independence and operational efficiency. 


Currently operational in four states—Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, and Gujarat—Khargewale’s goal to onboard 200 weavers over the next three years is ambitious but achievable with the continued support of Rang De’s social investors. 


2654 Rang De Social Investors have funded 100+ loans from Khargewale weavers worth ₹ 7.5 lakhs.  These investments not only made it possible for weavers to turn entrepreneurs and earn better incomes but also helped conserve traditional weaving artforms. 


You can enable artisans through the Rang De platform within minutes with as low as Rs.100. Visit rangde.in to invest, create impact and get repaid with interest! 


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