SRIKAKULAM: Ponduru fine khadi might be well known, but not so are the difficulties faced by the weavers who make it. For years, they struggled to market their products from Ponduru village in Srikakulam district.
On seeing their plight, a group of young engineers decided to create an online platform to help them; and now, their products attract attention from across the world. It all began two years ago, when four software engineers approached the weavers to make a documentary on Ponduru Khadi. They were shocked to learn that a family of khadi workers earned only about Rs 200 per day, and decided to use their skills to help the artisans.
The engineers — Pogiri Jawanth Naidu, Suraj Potnuru, Sailendra and Bharadwaj — all residents of villages in Srikakulam, created a website and motivated the weavers to join as members to sell their products. They also invited a few selected customers initially.
“We decided to create an online marketing platform after seeing the dire conditions of the Khadi workers at Ponduru,” said Jaswanth Naidu, adding that the platform (loom2home) is being renovated and will be available from Monday with extra web pages.
Ponduru and the nearby villages have about 1,000 khadi workers. As continuing the trade was difficult, many children of Khadi workers migrated in search of other jobs.
“We have involved about 200 selected customers from across the country on the website. They buy cloth worth Rs 10,000 per year. About 50 weavers sell their produce on the website, and we are motivating them to design clothes that meet the demands of youngsters,” Jaswanth Naidu said.
He added that there is a huge demand for Ponduru khadi in Western countries. “We act as facilitators between the khadi workers and customers without expecting any profit. In the international market, middlemen make huge profits by marketing Ponduru khadi. We created the website to eliminate middlemen,” he explained.
Jaswanth Naidu said plans are on to create a mobile app to serve as a design bank including the work of prominent fashion designers. “An order for traditional clothes worth Rs 10 lakh was received from Silicon Andhra in the US about two years ago. Weavers receive orders directly from the customers,” he added.
N Appanna, a khadi worker from Ponduru, said he received a few orders online in the last three months, and added that he and 20 other weavers from Ponduru cater to the orders of Silicon Andhra.