The female micro-entrepreneurs disrupting India’s garment trade
Industree Foundation is an Indian social enterprise that aims to tackle poverty in the garment manufacturing industry by creating an ecosystem of thousands of self-employed female micro-entrepreneurs, who work locally rather than in far-off traditional garment factories.
It uses apps to build traceable systems to track producers’ payments and allow them access to raw materials, capital and design, and has an e-commerce platform to connect producers making handmade products directly to customers and retail markets.
Industree Foundation has reached 30,000 women artisans across India and Africa, through collaborative efforts with organizations such as India based retail group Future Group, and IKEA, which teams up with social enterprises in India for its Next Gen initiative, which aims to enable social entrepreneurs to gain access to global markets. Since 2011, 2,000 artisans have been embedded in the end-to-end value chain of banana bark products and have benefitted through the partnership, and over 600,000 products have made their way to over 72 Ikea stores in Europe, Japan and Korea.
Neelam Chhiber, who founded Industree Foundation in 2000, says: “Whatever we do has to be disruptive.” She says the potential for the garment industry to grow sustainably, embracing new technologies and empowering women, is huge, with 30 million women in India who still rely on fashion for employment.
Photo courtesy of Maria Andersson.