GoCoop's business model is connecting rural artisans to global buyers

GoCoop is helping weavers get better prices for their products by providing a platform on which they can sell directly to local and global buyers

GoCoop, founded by Siva Devireddy, was recently honoured by the Ministry of Textiles for its e-marketing of handloom products

On October 31, 2011, Siva Devireddy quit his job as director of Accenture’s Innovation Center in Bengaluru to embark on a path for which he had been laying the ground for over two years. The very next day he assumed charge at his entrepreneurial venture—GoCoop Solutions Private Ltd—as its CEO and managing director. The company, incorporated in October that year, owns and operates an online marketplace, gocoop.com, which gives rural handloom weavers’ cooperatives a platform to sell their products at market prices, directly to buyers across the world.

“We started operations in 2012. The marketplace was in beta [mode] since 2013 and we went fully live in August 2014,” says Devireddy, 40, whose effort has already met with success: In August 2016, GoCoop received a national award from the Ministry of Textiles for marketing of handloom products via ecommerce.

Devireddy estimates that the handloom and handicraft sector in India is about $4 billion (around Rs 27,000 crore) in size. He adds that there are about 250 million people working in about 6 lakh cooperatives of all kinds (not just handloom and handicrafts) in India, forming the backbone of the country’s rural economy. Usually, cooperatives are self-managed and self-governed groups of workers involved in a similar craft; the cooperative—with elected heads, or professional managers—helps market the products made by its members, and distributes profits equally among them.

However, weavers’ cooperatives are losing their relevance in a textile industry that is dominated by machine-made fabric; handloom products take longer to make, and are more expensive because of higher costs of labour and raw material (a large portion of which is natural, not synthetic). It is also difficult for rural cooperatives to gain access to lucrative urban and foreign markets. One of the biggest clients of handloom cooperatives are state governments, which promote these products through government emporiums. However, lack of marketing initiatives, design and technical innovation and quality improvements mean a stagnant market and prices for these goods.

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