As the world moves indoors, in a coordinated effort to carry out social distancing, we've begun to see and hear remarkable things around us. There's the sky above, now bluer than ever before, the excited chirps and chitter-chatter of birds and squirrels and a sense of prevailing calm.
However, social distancing has brought a new set of challenges for the artisan community, and for us.
In the past, man lived in close-knit communities, crafted products by hand and shopped locally - leading a more conscious, mindful existence. By shopping locally, we'd also support social enterprise - the family-run or community-run small businesses that used traditional methods of production. Predating the age of machines, which brought with it pollution and overconsumption, social enterprise has been part of our history for centuries.
Facing challenges like industrialization, social enterprise has turned out to be remarkably resilient, with artisan communities passing down their skills from generation to generation.
We have now adapted with changing times, using technology to improve the lives of the artisans and widen customer bases to cover international markets. At GoCoop, we used technology to eliminate the need for brick-and-mortar stores by setting up an online marketplace that connects artisans directly with the customers.
With technology, we have built a network of rural producer groups and customers from around the world, bringing our products right to your doorstep - reducing costs, with minimal overheads and zero intermediaries.
The need for social distancing has presented new challenges. India has over 9 million artisans who might find their livelihoods affected as buying patterns change due to the Covid19 lockdown globally. It would take months if not years for these fragile supply chains to recover.
Now more than ever, we will need to support our artisans and social enterprises. It's time to stand in solidarity with our artisan brothers and sisters, shop and sustain the rural economy.
It's time to Go Swadeshi.