“I would like to see a society in which every child and young person gets a good education, opportunities for work and is able to pursue their dreams and ambitions.”
Sumita Ghose (Founder & MD,rangSutra Crafts India)
Sumita Ghose, the visionary behind India’s first community-owned craft company, rangSutra Crafts India has created opportunities for inclusive growth by acting as a bridge between artisans and markets, change and continuity, and tradition and modernity.
Sumita has always been interested in the cultural aspects of life and her interest in handicrafts made her learn the value of Indian craft and traditions. However, she often used to ponder about how the real heroes behind these intricate works of excellence were not valued and while studying the Indian Economy she realized that the root of the problem was in the economic policies that focused on developing research institutions, industrial factories, and commercial establishments in cities.
Sumita was a student of Elphinstone college where she met her spouse, Sanjoy Ghose who inspired her to work in rural Rajasthan along with him. Her work opened her eyes to social divisions (caste and gender) that were strongly etched in western Rajasthan, and the injustice of it all. She then comprehended the potential and power of collectives, especially of those most marginalized – women and the socially and economically disadvantaged community.
Empowered women have ideas that can transform the world, for Sumita, the idea was to create an organization that empowers marginalized women and men in rural India. Her strengthened belief to run a profitable enterprise with minimal harm to the environment led to the creation of rangSutra in 2006. rangSutra is owned by 2000 rural artisans out of which 80% are rural women who got confidence and livelihood from this platform. This has helped them not only to become financially independent but has also helped them become friends and support each other.
rangSutra gives supreme importance to cluster development; it believes in investing a lot in the mobilization of artisans so that they understand the value of traditional craft skills to ensure that they comprehend the significance of the long craft value chain. Seeing the final product in the stores makes them proud of the work.
CHALLENGES FACED BY SUMITA
Every great story includes challenges and hurdles and so did Sumita’s. The primary challenge she faced in her initial years was her lack of experience and self-confidence which was scrutinized through the patriarchal mindset. To overcome the biggest challenge of lack of access to education and to paid work, Sumita decided to form women’s groups, who collectively would have the confidence to voice their thoughts and take collective action. She achieved this through various processes like microfinance and technical expertise and in this process, she gradually learned to become more confident.
LONG TERM PLANS FOR RANGSUTRA
Speaking of what the future holds for rangSutra, Sumita mentions expanding the organization and including more craftspeople from different states to make a visible presence and grow the business. She aims at creating more awareness about India’s craft heritage, so that it not only survives but thrives, thus forming a sustainable basis for artisan’s livelihoods.
Sumita is a renowned entrepreneur who has received awards like the Nari Shakti Award in 2016, TIE Spirit of Manufacturing Award (for rangSutra) in 2014, the Synergos Fellowship in 2012, and various others.
Sumita is here to empower each and every person trying to make a change, she thereby states:
“Be the change you want to see in the world. For her, She who works with her head, heart, and hands is an artisan.”