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    Interview with Susan Bhaktul

    Susan Bhaktul
    Susan Bhaktul
    Head - Apparel and Textile Vertical
    Industree Foundation
    Industree Foundation

    Leveraging artisanal skills

    Established in 2000 as a liaison with the Government of India, Industree Foundation provides professional management and infrastructure to artisans. The non-governmental organisation works with a comprehensive approach that helps communities assess their traditional skill base, organise them into production units, develop products that appeal to modern markets, and create consistent demand to create sustainable businesses at the lowest possible costs. Industree Foundation's head of apparel and textile vertical Susan Bhaktul speaks to Rajesh Kumar Shah about artisans, their creative products, and the impact they have created.

    How does the Industree Foundation help artisans? How do the artisans get associated with the foundation?

    Industree Foundation's comprehensive approach helps communities assess their traditional skill base, organise them into production units, develop products that appeal to modern markets and create consistent demand to create sustainable businesses. Our approach has tripled the incomes of artisans in non-farm occupations by leveraging their artisanal skills and integrating them into the creative industries sector.

    Industree Foundation has reached around 200,000 artisans across India and Africa through collaborative efforts with organisations like The Future Group, Ikea, Mastercard Centre for Inclusive Growth, Standard Chartered, The Freedom Fund, Tata Trusts, Grassroots Business Fund, and National Skill Development Corporation.

    Who are the founders, and why was the Foundation set up?

    Industree Foundation was established under the stewardship of Neelam Chibber, co-founder and managing trustee. For the past three decades, Neelam has been working with artisans in rural areas by providing design, technical, marketing, and management solutions to bridge the urban-rural chasm. The Foundation was established in 2000 as a liaison with the Government of India to provide professional management and infrastructure to artisans. They work with a comprehensive approach that helps communities assess their traditional skill base, organise them into production units, develop products that appeal to modern markets, and create consistent demand to create sustainable businesses at the lowest possible costs. They work towards building sustainable livelihoods in the creative manufacturing sector to ensure that underemployed women can access and avail reasonable and regular incomes, decent and equitable working conditions, and the ability to cope with life crises. Over the years, Neelam and her team have built a holistic ecosystem that works with rural communities in India to equip them with the necessary skills, tools and value additions to set up self-owned enterprises close to their homes. Industree works to ensure these communities become part of mainstream value chains and therefore have greater control over their socio-economic security.

    Which are your core impact areas?

    Industree builds sustainable livelihoods in the creative manufacturing sector. Our five core impact areas are:
    1. Increased and Regular Incomes - Industree handholds & facilitates market access for sustained profitability & stable work.
    2. Decent and Equitable Working Conditions - Industree ensures compliance with the highest global standards.
    3. Women's Empowerment - Industree empowers women with skills and leadership opportunities.
    4. Resilience to Life Crises - Producers are brought under a social security net and have access to formal financial services.
    5. Access to Quality Education - With an increased salary and financial training, producers invest in their children's education, start saving plans and get good health support when needed.

    Does the Foundation pursue its activities entirely on its own or collaborates with other organisations too? If yes, which are the organisations?

    Investors, philanthropic organisations, and front-end brands continue to support our holistic 6C (Create, Construct, Capacity, Channel, Capital, Connect) model that not only supports producers today but has the potential to enable a 100 million producers climb out of poverty, become wealth creators themselves and change their life stories by holding a stake in these producer-owned companies. Industree is currently supported by both funders and investors, including the USAID, HSBC Bank, Target Foundation, UNDP, British Asian Trust, Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, and International Trade Center, Geneva. It has also been able to leverage considerable support from various government departments in India.?

    The Foundation has partnered with diverse organisations on initiatives to achieve aspirational and multifaceted goals that requires various levels of expertise and resources. These goals range from providing pandemic relief for 200 million artisans, working to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, creating a platform to provide tools and resources for producers, and scaling our impact to reach additional producers across a variety of value chains.
    Published on: 28/06/2021

    DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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