This week I have been working on the business side of the crafts center that has not been set up. Inventory, stock, marketing, artist training are all things that have been lacking and needed to ensure sustainability of the project. I started the week out by taking inventory and going over past sales to find out what items sell the most. Many items that are featured in the product catalog have not been made recently and without having samples of all the items, it is hard to sell and ensure speedy delivery of orders.
The main progress of this week though has been the possible partnership with Nest that I have been working on. There is a joint company, both non-profit and for-profit, that works with artisan groups of India. Nest is the non-profit side of the business that works with the producers on further training and getting products ready for international markets. The Collaborative Group, the for-profit side of the business, works on the export of these products to markets in the United States. Currently, I am still building on the relationship and trying to find out if this will be a good fit for both sides of the partnership. I feel I am starting to catch my stride here in India. Hopefully this will be a venture to pursue for the center.
Other than the business that I am working on with the crafts center, I am talking to a Basecamp employee, who works with the village on their projects, about the opportunity of a government greenhouse. This will take a lot of time to set up and may not be feasible in such a small village, but it is worth a try. The Indian Department of Agricultural works with rural villages on different projects, one being a subsidized greenhouse which they agree to pay ¾ of the initial investment while also training workers in the village. This type of project usually costs around 4,000,000 Rs., which is about $80,000. That is a lot of money in Indian terms, especially in a rural village where they are lucky to make over a dollar a day on average. The government does guarantee subsidies for ¾ the amount of the cost, around $60,000, but still leaves $20,000 that would have to funded by other sources. The other problem that might occur is the training. It would be bad development to only train the men to work in the greenhouse, but if the training happens to be in another part of the country, it is difficult for women to leave the village. The women are not encouraged by their families and extended families to pursue employment, and definitely not supported to leave the village for long periods of time, which training might require.
I am not able to stay at the hotel this weekend due to large tour groups coming in to stay at the hotel. I had to leave so they could use my room for guests, but I have not been in Jodhpur for close to two weeks, so I am fine with going to the city to get some supplies and hang out with the other Americans. Next weekend is going to be our midterm retreat, even though it is not close to my midterm; most of the other interns are here for a shorter amount of time than I am. The plan is to visit Udiapur in Rajasthan and stay for a three days in “the city of lakes.” There is also an FSD team that is based in Udiapur, but we most likely won’t see them during our stay there. Apparently it is a beautiful city and it is amazing they have lakes since in all the other areas of Rajasthan the lakes dry up within weeks of the end of the monsoon.
That’s it for now, but I will update if anything come up this week and definitely after our trip to Udiapur.