India’s North-Eastern states are a treasure trove of handcrafted heritage and unique agricultural products, many of them with Geographical Indication (GI) tags. In an effort to boost the local economy, create employment, encourage financial inclusion and empower artisans, weavers and women entrepreneurs across these eight states, Amazon.in has recently launched the Spotlight North-east storefront.
Take the case of Swattik Chakraborty of The Bamboowala, a sustainable handicrafts brand from Tripura that celebrates the state’s traditional craftsmanship. The brand offers handcrafted bamboo products like table top lamps, serving trays, decorative wall panels, place mats, purses, bags, vases and bamboo root figurines. “Through Amazon’s online store, we currently cater to customers from towns and cities across the country. Most of our orders come from southern India. In the next few years, we want to expand globally.” says Swattik.
Forest Pick from Manipur, which specialises in wild tea, is another local brand that dabbles in sustainable products from the North-east. Co-founded by Boilal Gangte, an IIM-B alumnus, and his three sisters, Aijulie, Jemshe and Julie, the brand scouts its “two leaves and a bud” from forests rather than tea plantations. “Wild tea is the most natural form of tea, as it is grown naturally in mountain forests. Currently, we have five households from these remote mountain villages for picking tea leaves. Their annual income has almost doubled. Despite our challenges, we look forward to growing the reach of our business as well as our local community,” shares Boilal.
By facilitating access to technology and global markets, Amazon will focus on bringing the benefits of ecommerce to 50,000 local artisans, weavers and small businesses like that of Swattik and Boilal by 2025. Spotlight North East also hopes to boost exports of key commodities like tea, spices and honey from the region.
“I would like to congratulate Amazon India on the launch of the ‘Spotlight North-east’ initiative. This will positively contribute to the fulfillment of this vision by boosting sales and exports of exclusive commodities of the North-east, helping turn this region into a commercial hub for introducing the world to ‘Made-in-India’ products.”
Creating an Atmanirbhar Bharat
Inaugurated at a virtual event by Dr. Jitendra Singh, Hon’ble Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Govt of India, the storefront launch is part of Amazon’s Spotlight North-east program. This special initiative was first announced at Amazon Smbhav in April 2021.
Speaking at the launch, Dr Jitendra Singh, Hon’ble Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Govt of India said, “One of the key priorities for our Government is to establish North-East as an important business destination in the Indian subcontinent. I would like to congratulate Amazon India on the launch of the ‘Spotlight North-east’ initiative. This will positively contribute to the fulfillment of this vision by boosting sales and exports of exclusive commodities of the North-east, helping turn this region into a commercial hub for introducing the world to ‘Made-in-India’ products.”
From Sikkim’s priceless Thangka paintings and Assam’s exquisite Muga silk sarees to the aromatic Chak-hao black rice from Manipur and the Naga Chilli, one of the world’s hottest chillies, Amazon’s new storefront has much on its shelves.
Thrilled to launch the #SpotlightNorthEast program with a storefront, aimed at digitising MSMEs like artisans, weavers, local shops from the region and connect with customers across India and the world.— Amit Agarwal (@AmitAgarwal) July 13, 2021
Thanks Hon’ble Union Minister @DrJitendraSingh for inaugurating the store. https://t.co/a4gtTctb74 pic.twitter.com/Hn7uj3xOEv
Skilling artisans for a digital India
For its latest initiative, Amazon has partnered with North Eastern Handicrafts and Handloom Development Corporation (NEHHDC) to upskill and digitally enable artisan communities from the region. NEHHDC will continue to host training workshops to help local and small businesses to grow, boosted by ideation sessions with leading Indian designers on emerging trends and contemporary designs.
“We’re delighted to partner with Amazon India to provide support, scale and visibility for handloom and handicrafts products from the North East.”
“North Eastern Handicrafts and Handloom Development Corporation is delighted to associate with Amazon India as the online market place. The exclusive Store on Amazon Karigar will help the products made by the artisans and weavers of North-east to reach millions of Amazon customers. We believe that our partnership with Amazon.in will not only promote entrepreneurship but also build awareness about the rich heritage of north-east handloom and handicrafts,” says Brig. RK Singh (Retd), Managing Director, NEHHDC,
Over the next 5 years, Amazon.in plans to bring more than 5,000 unique, craft-based products, GI products and other local goods on its marketplace and boost exports of special products from the region to global customers.
Amazon’s Spotlight North-east storefront will not only bring the benefits of e-commerce to artisans and small businesses in the region, but also impact livelihoods of the local community. The store’s ‘Made in India’ products, representing our rich and diverse cultural heritage, will support the vision of balanced development across the nation.