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Can technology make a difference in India’s drive to revive the handloom? Vogue got in conversation with Siva Devireddy of GoCoop on his game-changing app that's empowering artisans.
Indian textile crafts enjoy fame all over the world. The handloom industry employs around five million weavers, and is the second largest employment provider for the rural population in India after agriculture. Like farmers, however, many artisans and co-operatives have to route their handcrafted products through middlemen and lose out on substantial profits. Siva Devireddy founder of GoCoop, an online marketplace, is trying to change that by helping weaves become self-empowered businessmen and manage inventory, orders and deliveries themselves. Vogue spoke to Devireddy on how the website (and now, app) is making its mark in the handloom industry.
Since my days at Hewlett Packard startup in the US, I always aspired to work on a project that would have a social impact, especially for people living in the rural parts of India. Having spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ village in the Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh, I was close to the rural producers—both farmers and weavers—and the challenges they faced in marketing their products. I still remember our village had an entire lane of weavers. In early 2012, we started GoCoop with the main objective of improving the livelihoods of rural producers through technology innovation. We spent the next two years understanding the workings of craft clusters across Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha, looking at different handloom products, their markets and the challenges faced by weavers and artisans. In 2013, we started working as an e-commerce partner for some of the largest weaver co-operative societies in the country such as APCO and Boyanika, and launched their e-commerce platforms—this was the first e-commerce initiative in the handloom sector.
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Even if we wore handloom once a week, says Siva Devireddy, founder and managing director of GoCoop, an online global marketplace for weavers, it will create work for millions of artisans.
For Siva Devireddy, 41, the just-concluded Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) in Mumbai was his first tryst with high-street fashion.