HYDERABAD: With a strong belief that technology can drive social change, GoCoop, an e-marketplace to buy and source authentic handcrafted products directly from weavers and artisans, is on a mission to enable a sustainable livelihood for artisans
The story behind GoCoop
Though passionate about engineering, Siva Devireddy, founder & managing director, GoCoop.com was always quite keen on understanding social issues and he strongly felt the need to address the same while growing up. Siva had spent significant time in his village in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh visiting his grandparents while he was growing up. He was fascinated with the way of life of farmers and weavers. He observed that the main limitation of rural producers in villages was lack of access to markets. He also noticed the positive role co-operatives played in rural economies through collective action. “Besides lack of access to markets, another issue weavers faced was managing the supply chain which was quite complex considering that most of these producers are quite small and are in rural parts of the country,” says the founder and MD GoCoop.
Thus, in 2011, GoCoop was conceived as an idea to build a community-based online marketplace for producers where they can list and sell their products. GoCoop started full time operations in 2012. “India is officially estimated to have over nine million artisans and we are gradually seeing a decline not only in the livelihoods but also in our traditional arts and crafts in the process. The key challenge faced today by our weavers and artisans is the inadequate demand and unfair pricing for their produce while the traders or middle men and retailers have the major share in the margins. There is an urgent need to create better market access for our artisans and weavers and make the markets more equitable to the producers. Our mission is to support more than a million weavers and artisans in next five years,” says Devireddy, who has worked extensively with co-operatives and other grass-roots organisations.
From both his childhood experiences in the villages and his corporate career of over 10 years mostly focusing on technology innovation, he developed a strong passion for driving social change through technology innovation. The organisation has currently over 225 co-operatives and over 60,000 weavers and artisans selling over 15,000 products through their online marketplace.
“The initial challenge was in reaching out to weavers and artisans in clusters and understand the complexities of working with co-operative societies and rural weavers. It was difficult initially to explain the concept of online selling to weavers and artisans. However, we have been able to overcome this challenge by spending a lot of time in hand holding and enabling weavers to sell online. The other challenge was in reaching out to potential buyers and convincing them to source from co-operative weavers and artisans. Buyer were initially hesitant about working with co-operatives or artisans directly and then gradually we started delivering the order in time.
The organisation, which had initiated ‘New Swadeshi Movement’ last year on August 15, has launched ‘IloveHandlooms’ campaign recently. “Through the #ILoveHandlooms campaign, we want to encourage people to tell us their ‘I Love Handlooms’ story. One can join the #ILoveHandlooms Movement by posting a picture or writing a story through Facebook or Twitter and tag GoCoop with #Ilovehandlooms hashtag.
- Retailers, boutiques, brands, exporters, designers and corporates can source their wholesale purchases of handmade fabrics and crafts directly from producer organisations.
- Consumers can celebrate our traditions by buying directly the ethnic hand-crafted products and can also contribute towards the livelihoods of artisans and weavers.