The Best Stories are Handmade
Ms. Deepali Agrawal, General Manager, Export-Import Bank of India

Not very long ago, Export-Import Bank of India reached out to the grassroots through its developmental programs aimed to extend marketing, advisory and micro-financing support to the artisans and craftsmen of India. The Bank has been involved in the socio-economic growth of self-help groups, NGO’s, clusters, co-operatives and individual artisans representing the Indian handloom and handicraft sector. The Bank’s interventions has led to significant difference in the life style and also have helped in reviving the diminishing art forms and restoration of faith on the next generation in the age old traditions of art and art. We are proud to present some select stories of the effort made.

Shine from the soil

One of the largest association of Bidriware craftsmen from the popular town of Bidar in Karnataka was primarily engaged in production traditional and expensive vases and flower pots. This is an intricate craft form using alloy of zinc and copper with silver inlay. Post Exim Bank’s joint workshop with National Institute of Design on product development, the association has received export order of light weight and reasonably priced utility based products from Australia, Germany and USA. Over 200 artisans were trained and this resulted in a staggering growth of 233% & 265% in productivity and export sales respectively. Not only did the metalware craftsmen reported a 108% growth in the average annual income but also developed a new marketing platform through creating their own website, which gave additional business. The training involved using alternate raw-materials to bring down the costs as well as weight. Innovative products of utility such as door knobs, tea coasters, pen-stands, bookmarks were created. This has nurtured and improved the skill sets of the next generation. The Bank has given the artisans platforms at national and international level to showcase the art form. This ancient art form has been successfully revived.

Generating warmth from the snow clad mountains

Small quintessential towns once adorned the valleys of the Kedarnath. However, a natural calamity in June 2013 caused a catastrophe, leaving several women and children homeless and helpless. Exim Bank organized a training programme with a view of empowering these women and providing sustainable livelihoods to the affected families in the region of Dewali-Bhanigram village in the Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand.

A six month training program to 30 artisans, included advance training by master weavers of the Panchachuli women’s weavers. Established in 2014, Mandakini Weavers association now employs nearly 300 artisans who earn over Rs. 40,000 per annum. The impact of the training was that the association received more than 500 orders worth Rs. 3.00 lakh thereby boosting productivity by 110%. Warm garments such as stoles, mufflers, quilts, shawls, scarves, caps and gloves are made using various forms of wool are being exported to UK, Australia and USA. The association is now also venturing into replacement of wool with cotton and other eco-friendly fibers to ensure employment opportunitythroughout the season.


Another Self Help Group established with 200 women artisan in 2003 at a small cluster of villages in Karnataka was assisted by the Bank. The aim of the self-help group was to provide an expression to the natural creative instincts of rural people and restoring traditional means of earning a living.

Gramya Turnkey services is involved in making lifestyle eco-friendly natural fibre products such as utility bags, clutches and other life style accessories and interior decoration products. The raw material comprise of banana fibre, jute, korai grass, hibiscus and wool. Gramya aims to conserve and promote the natural skills of artisans and foster their entrepreneurial skills. The workshop conducted helped in training 30 artisans in making innovative products like photo frames, table mats and lamp shades. New orders were generated from the US markets and an increase of 25% was seen in the annual income. The increase in sales led to increase in the annual income of the artisans as well as the suppliers of raw materials. This has improved the standard of living and has also created a sustained livelihood for women and their respective families.

Block and Break the Lock

It would not be wrong to say that the women from a remote part of Rajasthan have today, broken all barriers and locks of all conservative myths and rituals and have grown to be empowered women, helping in their family needs and at times earning more than their husband. These women have gained confidence and have managed to hold their heads high.

The Bank conducted a skill development training program in association with NCDPD. 50 women artisans learned the techniques of block printing and stitching. The month long skill development workshop was conducted with the objective of training unskilled women into skilled artisans and expanding the producer base of the NGO called Anoothi. These trained women have been able to further impart their skills to several women. Anoothi now is associated with 150 women, most were either unemployed or in agrarian activities. The self-help group produces over 100 varieties of home furnishing products using six different art forms like kantha, patwa and block printing techniques, which are easily marketed in India and overseas.

Under the Marketing Advisory Services of the Bank, nearly Rs 6 crores worth of orders have been placed for hand-crafted products, with an annual y-o-y growth of 63% in the number of organizations assisted. Buyers include renowned retail, lifestyle and gifting stores and popular e-commerce marketplace in India and abroad. Over the years, the bank has conducted training and workshops for over 1200 artisans, weavers and craftsmen in 26 clusters covering 16 states. The Bank has extended Rs. 2.4 crores as financial support. Most of the clusters used to suffer from lack of timely finance, training facilities for artisans and availability updated tools. However, due to Exim Bank’s support, the level of skills of artisans improved, productivity, export awareness and sales increased following influx of orders thereby enhancing the earnings of these grass root level entities in far flung areas. The Bank’s interventions has assisted in successful business development and also significantly supported the environment by promoting reduction in wastage of raw material and increased usage of recycled materials. Exim Bank has been actively involved in organizing workshops, seminars and training programs on topics such as design sensitization, product development, skill development etc. Such activities also lead to due recognition of traditional art & craft at various platforms across India and abroad, improvement in livelihood, sustainable income generation, women empowerment and elevating the economic & social status of various artisans, weavers and craftsmen. Over the past five years, the Exim Bank has engaged in nearly 26 clusters in 16 different states. 489 artisans have been positively impacted directly or indirectly through the bank’s training, workshop programs. There has been 70 % improvement in number of days employed. Most women who were previously unemployed or employed in agrarian activities have received gainful & continuous employment. Increased incomes has led to improved access to hospitals and schools, construction of concrete houses and purchase of medical insurance by the clusters. Sales turnover has been significantly growing for nearly all organizations post the bank's programs.The last five years have brought some significant achievements. Transformation has begun to show its effect & gain momentum within these organizations. We have seen more and more organizations adopting better business practices. In conclusion, the Bank through its grassroots programmes contributed in poverty reduction, providing food security, ensuring healthy lives, promoting wellbeing for all, ensuring equitable quality education, gender equality and empowering women. The best stories are definitely hand made!

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