Ms Roopa Mehta
Roopa Mehta is the CEO of Sasha Association for Craft Producers (“Sasha”) and the Secretary of Sarba Shanti Ayog (SSA) its associate development organization. Sasha/SSA provides business support inputs and market access for sustainable livelihoods to artisan groups based largely in rural communities and semi urban areas. She is on the Board of Sadhna, the handicrafts and income augmentation programme of Seva Mandir, Udaipur and the Managing Trustee of Ruro Agro Services Association, a registered trust which develops natural agro based products, trains producers and identify suitable markets. She is also on the Board of COMMACT International and World Fair Trade Organisation(WFTO). Roopa Mehta is a MBA from Delhi University with further professional qualifications in Social Communication. In the earlier part of her professional career, Mrs. Mehta worked in hospitality and merchandising sector and she was the Chief Executive Officer of a renowned textiles manufacturing & retailing company before joining Sasha.
Sreya Mozumdar has been working in the development sector for the last 11 years, after her graduation from the Department of Social Work, Delhi University. She brings to her work an academic experience of research into the area of women and gender. Her graduate and post graduate education in English Literature, from Jadavpur University, Kolkata, has lent a feminist theoretical perspective against which she frames much of her development practice.
In previous roles in senior management, she has been responsible for program design and management, advocacy, networking and fundraising, along with knowledge management and incubation of new ideas/approaches. She has a particular interest in communications and qualitative research.
She has sectoral experience in the areas of sustainable rural livelihoods, urban poverty alleviation, disaster risk reduction, gender and youth development. She brings to her work an intersectional approach that looks at driving sustainable and inclusive development processes in contexts of marginality.
Madhura Dutta, the former ED of AIACA, has 18 years of experience in the social development sector with extensive experience in livelihood generation models across India. She has worked in various grassroots initiatives as well as in UNESCO and has contributed towards development of Cultural Policy and Cultural Entrepreneurship focusing on creative industry models. Her vast experience on community development matched with her passion in handicrafts had brought her to AIACA. After successfully heading AIACA for four years, she was incorporated in its Governing Body. Currently she is a Senior Advisor of national CSR initiatives of JCBI. She has a Masters degree in Sociology from University of Calcutta, a Masters degree in Sustainable Development from UK and a PhD from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. She is also a Commonwealth Scholar.
Rema Kumar, textile designer based in Delhi, has been working with a large cross-section of weavers and master craftsmen along the length and breadth of India for almost two decades.
Her focus has always been integrating tradition with novelty, infusing new life into age-old techniques by way of vibrant colours and designs and constantly encouraging weavers to think out of the box to create something different. Though her passion lies in designing saris, and trying to keep the interest in the six yards alive among our Indian women, her collection also includes stoles, dupattas and home accents in the form of dhurries and floor-cushions. She also designs fusion ethnic wear created out of the fabrics specially detailed with ethnic indigenous Indian surface detailing methods like Batik, Kalamkari, Handblocks, Kantha and so on. She has also been working as freelance design consultant and has been involved in various weavers’ workshops for organisations like Dastkar and SEWA.
A graduate in Textile Design from the prestigious National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, has been working with artisans from across the country since 1991. After her graduation she did a small stint with Anokhi in Jaipur, but wanted to work with more crafts besides block printing, so then she worked with Fabindia for 15 years collaborating with handloom weavers, block printers, embroiderers, Dhurrie weavers, Jutthie makers and many more. She engaged with the artisan and their craft and created designs in their own language to help them open up new markets, from 2007 to date she has worked on projects with IL&FS (Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services), Earthy Goods, Jindal CSR programme and AIACA (All India Artisans and Handicraft Association). She has done training programmes and design interventions for many artisan groups to help in capacity building and opening new markets.
Mukesh works as the Business development Leader of Traidcraft India. He is a social sector specialist with 15 plus years of experience in managing and coordinating social and economic development programs across India. He is passionate about producers collective and works towards its governance and business sustainability through designing contextualized need based interventions.
His passion towards producer’s collective led him to explore and initiate sTepUp – a not for profit initiative to build capacities of market based community collectives. Prior to this, he has worked on community development projects with grass root institutions, eminent Indian grant making institutions and an international NGO. With expertise in programme management and building successful partnerships, he has significant experience in the areas of livelihood, enterprise development, institutional governance, youth development and social research.
A graduate from XISS, he further studied non-profit management from Lee Kwan Yew School of Public Policy, Singapore. Mukesh is also part of the South Asia programme of Traidcraft to build capacities of producer Institutions involved in Fair Trade in India and Bangladesh.
Weaver entrepreneur, Ramnagar,Varanasi
Nizamuddin Ansari is a resident of Ramnagar and the head of his family. He learned weaving from his ancestors. He was involved in this occupation since 1986. Due to recession and poor business conditions in weaving sector, he left weaving in 2003-04 for four to five years and was involved in embroidery work. In 2009, he started weaving again and began to get better results and output of his effort.
Santosh Kumar Maurya
Weaver entrepreneur, Bajardiha, Varanasi
Santosh Kumar Maurya, s/o Manik Lal Maurya from Bajardiha, Varanasi is a master weaver. His grandfather and father received national award in 1985 and 1988 respectively for their weaving skills and design intricacies. He learnt weaving from his father and grandfather since his childhood after coming from the school. He took over his family business in 1993 as full time work. He has high design and market sense. He has been a regular, active and vocal member of Varanasi Weavers and Artisans Society (VWAS). He said, “VWAS provided a platform to me to see the new horizon of the development. I learnt a lot about design and market from the training which I received from the society. I want more weavers to get benefit with their association in the society.”
Weaver entrepreneur, Kotwa,Varanasi
Durga Prasad, 55 years old seasoned master weaver is the resident of village Ayodhyapur, Kotwa. He went to junior high school for his early education. He could not able to pursue higher education due to non-favourable economic condition in the family. He started weaving since his early child hood as a wage earner. In 1995, he started his own work with his design and established good network in domestic market gradually. Currently, he is the owner 15 handlooms also provide job work to 7 weavers regularly. He associated with VWAS in November, 2017 and actively participated in all the major activities. He said, “After becoming VWAS member, I participated in the various training and capacity building program which makes able me to understand the value chain and business at various platform.”
Weaver entrepreneur, Bajardiha, Varanasi
35 years old Salim Akhtar is the resident of Bajardiha, Varanasi and studied up to 10th standard. Weaving has been his ancestral work and he started learning it when he was 10 years old. Salim being the eldest son in the family took over the responsibility of growing business and taking the same to the next level up. He takes care market/buyer linkage in the business while his brothers coordinate production and orders. He started with 5 handlooms and took those to 25 currently. He gives employment to 10 weavers and has a desire to enhance this number. He associated with VWAS in 2017 and has been an active member. He said, “VWAS enhanced my potential and thoughts for growing up my business. Designing and marketing training helped me to polish my existing skills.”
Weaver entrepreneur, Kotwa, Varanasi
27 years old Mod Sharif is the third son of Mr Abdul Samad, resident of Kotwa. He received higher education M.A. in Industrial Relationship Personnel Management from Kashi Vidyapeeth in 2016. Weaving has been the ancestral work of his family so he decided to adopt and continue his family business. He was associated with VWAS in 2016 and has been the active member of it. He participated in various exhibitions and workshops which built his capacity and desire to make his own brand in the world of handloom weaving. He said, “VWAS gave me the vision to be an entrepreneur and I started my own firm Banarasi Weave. Currently, 8 weavers have associated with me and got employment.”