The project titled “Empowering traditional artisans to preserve and promote their livelihood” is an initiative by the PHIA foundation with the motive of providing a structural framework to a group of women artisans named Pardhan Gadh Chitra Mahila Samooh. The group consists of ten women from the Dindori district of Madhya Pradesh (also known as the birthplace of Gond Art) who are working professionally as Gond artists. The Gond artisans from Dindori district, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, known to be the birthplace of the art form, lost their steady stream of income as the lockdown and the regulations put a hold on trade fairs, exhibitions and other in-person opportunities for marketing and selling their art and craft pieces. The artisans needed a way to tell their story and sell their products online to sustain their livelihood. With funding backing from MTX IT Consulting Services Pvt. Ltd., PHIA Foundation designed a strategy to promote and market the products created by the Gond artisans and give them a more sustainable and shock-resilient means of income. With a target to empower traditional artisans from Bhopal and preserve and promote their traditional artisanry, PHIA Foundation formed ten Gond artisans, all women, into a committee, namely the Pardhaan Gadh Chitra Mahila Samooh – and provided the Samooh with branding and upskilling support to digitally expand its sales outreach. The artisans were trained to improve their basic business and digital skills by practising accounting of profits and sales, pricing artwork, managing an inventory and handling smartphones and social media.
PHIA Foundation equipped the artisans through product development workshops, re-envisioned the look and feel of the brand by giving it a name and a logo and provided the artisans with raw materials to start making the products. With the raw materials, the artisans created 50 different products and promotional materials including paintings, notebooks and bags with their brand logo and Gond designs. The signature prints of the promotional materials – which retained the traditional Gond essence, greatly increased the visibility of the brand, giving it a fresh face. Student interns from Indian Institute of Forest Management and Bhopal School of Social Sciences were engaged in setting up and engaging in online and offline channels for marketing and selling these products.. The programme also held stall sale for the committee which helped the artisans sell products worth over INR 50,000. As a result of the intervention, the artisans now have an improved understanding of how to design and brand their products so they can attract suitable clients and fetch better prices, creating a stable market for Gond products and securing their traditions and livelihoods