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Develop and Strengthen Varanasi Weavers and Artisans Society (VWAS)

"Develop and Strengthen Varanasi Weavers and Artisans Society (VWAS) as a Social Enterprise to enhance sustainable livelihoods of small and medium Varanasi handloom weavers through effective business development services"

The smaller and marginalized handloom weavers of Varanasi suffer from negligible exposure to markets and little knowledge of the business. They have very little networking, negotiating, organizational or technical skills – all of which are needed for growth and to come out of the exploitative feudal structure of the weaving community. An end to end solution to all the livelihood challenges faced by the weavers is the need of the hour. AIACA’s intervention through VWAS in the handloom clusters of Varanasi will create a long term impact and bring about sustainable socio-economic improvement in the lives of vulnerable weavers’ communities at large. The producer led enterprise development aspect of the project (Varanasi Weavers and Artisans Society) will enable adoption of strategies that will directly influence the market prices, wages, avenues for direct orders, etc. making the business environment more conducive and profitable for the smaller producers. This will also lead to a market transformation with more and more small producers having the negotiating power leading to ethical buying and selling.
The purpose of AIACA’s intervention is to reduce the fragmented nature of the weavers’ community, lessen their dependency on the gaddidars or the middleman, and change the value chain equation in favor of the small marginalized weavers so that they can enjoy improved income, fair wages and prices, greater profit share, recognition for their work, and a dignified and sustainable livelihood from their generation old traditional skill. The VWAS as a collective of the handloom weavers directly addresses the issues of negotiation for ethical buying and selling, ensuring higher prices for high end premium handloom weaves, directly linking smaller weavers to buyers and markets so that they can earn a higher profit share and is also able to carry on business on their own, promote the authenticity and value of Varanasi handloom weaves, vis-à-vis the cheap powerloom products which pose a threat to handloom weaving currently, through established certifications of Craftmark, GI, Silk Mark and India Handloom Brand.

February 2017- January 2020

Project Area
Clusters: Kotwa, Lohata, Ramnagar and Handloom clusters of Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh

Project Objectives

• To contribute to the economic competitiveness of the Indian handloom sector and promote the well being of individual weavers

• To build sustainable enterprises of weavers in Varanasi and improve their economic competitiveness through technical inputs, direct market access, access to resources for livelihood improvement and increased demand for authentic handloom Varanasi weaves