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Making of a Social Business (By Sumita Ghose)

Posted by RangSutra Crafts on
Making of a Social Business (By Sumita Ghose)
"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step"

The idea of rangSutra came to me while on a sabbatical in 2002. Writing a paper on the kind of organizations that were needed in the 21st Century – which would address inequalities and injustices faced by many communities around the world. I envisioned an organization that would bridge the divide and distance between marginalized rural communities and thriving urban India, between tradition and contemporary, in order to create a more equitable and just society.

It took us 4 long years to finally register rangSutra crafts India in 2006 and start work in full swing. Our approach remains constructive, building on skills that artisans and their groups already possess, and linking this with the market for handcrafted products in India and the world.

Our purpose is to ensure regular work and sustainable livelihoods for rural artisan communities, and equip them with the necessary skills, equipment and technology required to run a 21st century enterprise – one which is equally committed to its people and the planet, along with financial sustenance/ profits. Being market conscious but not market driven.

We needed funds: Philanthropic organizations were unwilling to fund us as we were not a charitable organization. Banks were unwilling to lend us money due to our lack of business experience, and our inability to provide collateral for loans.

That’s when the idea of asking artisans to chip in was mooted. rangSutra’s purpose is to ensure regular work and incomes for rural artisans… and we invited them to be co – owners. Without much ado, 1000 artisans from Western Rajasthan – all part of the URMUL Trust network of organizations, put in their faith, their trust, their talent and a 1000 rupees each, to start rangSutra.

Supported by impact investors - Aavishkaar and Fabindia - and social entrepreneurs, we took our first steps in the journey of crafting our company. No complicated strategies guided our decisions, just a vision, plans and action.

Looking back, what seemed a practical thing to do – inviting artisans to be shareholders – had strategic outcomes as well – that of instilling a sense of agency – specially among women artisans. Quoting one woman artisan “rangSutra shares are the only asset I own. Our land and our home is in the names of the male members of our family….working on the orders that rangSutra brings gives us income… we have our own bank accounts now and can choose to spend our earnings as we wish. We have a voice, and it counts.”

Artisans have representation on our Board and play a crucial role in the growth and development of the organization. Many of the producer companies we work with have grown several times in the past 16 years, and in the past 2 uncertain covid years, depended on rangSutra to ensure work.

Of course we have faced challenges along the way, and tried to overcome them, failing at times, but trying to evolve ways of working that make us resilient and strong. For us at rangSutra – every day is a new beginning, a chance to be a better version of ourselves, knowing that we have the power within to create a strong and sustainable organization.

Come, be a part of our story.

Written by Sumita Ghose, Founder and Managing Director of Rangsutra Crafts.

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