A new e-commerce platform for handloom weavers, called re-weave.in, has been launched by Microsoft India under its Project ReWeave. Part of the company’s Philanthropies initiative, the platform will help connect artisans directly to buyers, enabling them to expand to newer customers and markets.

The website hosts signature collections created by the weaver communities in Telangana and showcases traditional designs and products created from natural dyes. This e-market place is intended to facilitate sales which will help in generating higher incomes for weavers and also revive traditional forgotten Indian art.

Project ReWeave also aims to help weavers with working-capital support through non-profit organisations. They are trained in the use of natural dyes so as to make newer and sustainable handwoven products that meet the demands of the socially and environmentally aware consumer.

In association with National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Microsoft has curated a special curriculum in ‘CAD and Color for Handloom Weaving’ to provide digital training in handloom design. At a special ceremony hosted at NIFT, the first batch of 100 handloom weavers were awarded certificates for successful design course completion. The programme places emphasis on skill development through ICT and digital tools in aspects such as upskilling, design, marketing and entrepreneurship. The company also hopes to create sustainable livelihood options through Project Sangam, a Microsoft Azure-based community training platform.

Digital empowerment centres have been expanded to more weaver clusters. The company inaugurated two new centres in Rajoli and Choutuppal and will open another centre shortly in Warangal and Siddipet clusters. The clusters of Pochampally, Gadwal and Narayanpet have been operational for some time now.

CB’s questions on promotion strategies for this e-commerce platform, revenue-sharing model, and current performance of weaver clusters did not receive any response from the company.

In a press release, Jayesh Ranjan, principal secretary, Industries & IT, Telangana, said, ‘Working with global technology leaders like Microsoft has enabled us to bring technology to the doorsteps of our large weaver communities in the remotest districts of Telangana. Initiatives like e-commerce marketplace and design training will enable weaver communities to sustain themselves and provide livelihood to artisans. This also is a practical solution to motivate younger generation of weavers to continue with their traditions and not divert into other professions.’

Anil Bhansali, managing director, Microsoft India (R&D) said, ‘With the introduction of our new e-commerce platform, digital empowerment centres and the new design curriculum, the weavers will be able to build on the rich handloom heritage of India and also reach out to a wider customer base.’