Backpacking through India, Vinay Kumar G. realised that a rural artisan suffers most because of the lack of direct access to markets. More often than not, the products exchange hands of three or four middlemen who pocket all the profits. As the supply of such village based products is more than the demand, the artisans are left with a raw deal.
The Village Store came into being with the help of seed capital provided by Unltd India. It sourced authentic handmade village craft products directly from artisan groups spread all over India and marketed them in urban India. In order to incorporate sustainability in its very process, The Village Store decided to source and market only eco-friendly products, thus adhering to a triple bottom line approach.
With over 14 years of work experience in the corporate sector, Vinay Kumar took the leap of faith into the developmental sector, with the aim to find deeper gratification. He met Bhavana Parab at an NGO where they were working together. Fueled by the passion to create a difference, both quit their jobs to start an enterprise of their own to help the village artisans.
The Village Store started by training people in making various products using the local resources. They ensured all the products used eco friendly raw materials and were of good quality. They had to constantly motivate the village artisans to ‘Think Big’ as most of them had never catered to an bulk orders. Once they built their portfolio, they approached various corporate houses to buy the products for corporate gifting.
The process of The Village Store intervention has many benefits for the rural artisans. They are able to get continuous employment and earn at an average Rs. 150- 200 per day. The artisan groups are also capacitated in business skills.
“People want to help themselves”, said Bhavana. “They don’t want to receive hand outs. They can take care of their health, education and other needs, only if they get a sustainable source of income. And they will work hard to deserve the income.”
The Village Store sells a variety of products, ranging from office stationary to customised cloth bags to food products. To know more log on to http://www.thevillagestore.in/
Also check out Villcart, an idea similar to that of The Village Store.