Visitors made a beeline to Essar's Bidhannagar guest house in Durgapur, West Bengal on August 12 and 13, 2014 to attend an exhibition of handmade products. Organized under the Project Dhaagaa initiative run by Essar Foundation, the two-day exhibition-cum-fair displayed hand-embroidered sarees, kurtis, kameez, dupattas, stoles, sherwani, kurtas, bed cover, pillows and cushion covers, blouse pieces, handkerchiefs and key rings, all made by the women of Kantaberia, Jatgoria, Labnapara and Akandara villages.
The idea was to introduce women artisans to the market and the potential buyer base. The exhibition aimed at giving women artisans the confidence to generate income from their newly sharpened skills in Kantha embroidery and apparel design. It also helped them learn about the dynamics of the market and ways of selling and marketing their products.
Mr Vilas Tawde, Project Director, CBM-Ranigunj, inaugurated the show by lighting the lamp in the presence of the members of the ladies' club, employees and members of the implementing partner, Durgapur Sundaram Creative Welfare Society. The other prominent visitors of the evening were Mr Atul Gupta, Director, Essar Capital Ltd., and Mr Stephen Bumgardner, Director – Technical and Operations, Unconventional Resources. They appreciated and encouraged the artisans and the venture and also purchased various products. The wholehearted response of the Essar employees over the two and half days has provided a strong boost to the efforts of the artisans over the last few months.
Project Dhaagaa, the livelihood and women empowerment initiative, which was initiated by Essar Foundation six months ago has proven to be a fruitful project and has been much-appreciated. After the event, the participating women artisans displayed high motivation to continue their venture and are eager to reach out to a larger market with similar exhibitions all over India. A market linkage has already been developed for the artisans of this project by which they have begun producing items for sellers in Kolkata.
Seeing the overwhelming response of the visitors on the two days, it was decided to display the items at the cafeteria of the office at Webel IT Park on August 14 as well. Though the first meet was exclusively for Essar employees, the project expects to hold more such meets for a wider clientele in the coming times.