There are many online stores and online marketplaces offering shops for small businesses. But what sets apart this newest entrant in the online marketplace is that it is a social enterprise, a fair trade marketplace that offers its services FREE for artisans, artists, farmers, the disabled (differently abled) and women entrepreneurs.
eMalhar.com provides eShops to showcase products at no cost whatsoever. It is a user friendly plug-and-play offering in the virtual world. All that the seller needs to do is set up a store in a few quick steps, upload images of their products, set their own prices, draw up responsible shipping, payment and return policies, and they are good to go. With emphasis on cataloguing sellers based on their art or craft category, eMalhar.com will be a user friendly site. By staying away from mass produced, stencil perfect products, this site will have exclusive offerings for customers looking for that one of a kind creation.
With its launch, eMalhar.com is all set to change the e-commerce landscape in India for handicrafts by trying to eliminate the digital divide that has become difficult to span for artisans far removed from the ease and efficiency of online marketing. The current market scenario does not work to the advantage of rural artists and small entrepreneurs and to most of them, online selling is nothing but an inaccessible concept. They will be guided through the process in the early stages so that they can soon start selling online with confidence.
Social Enterprise – a Sustainable Model
eMalhar.com is formed as a social enterprise which is driven by Ambassadors and Mentors. Ambassadors and Mentors guide the organization and help them in building a sustainable business model which emphasizes on engaging in ethical review of the goods and services the seller’s produce and sells; its social purposes and social impact. Being a social enterprise, eMalhar.com is founded on a strong sustainable business model while not deviating from its foundational objective to provide a free digital platform for artists, artisans, farmers, the disabled (differently abled) and women entrepreneurs. eMalhar.com is planning to sustain its operations through CSR programs from corporations and crowdfunding.
Currently eMalhar.com is working with many women entrepreneurs, artisans and co-op societies to support setting up their stores. According to an ambassador, eMalhar.com.com is taking a very pragmatic and humble approach to how we scale; we want to be sustainable and produce results for our sellers and provide better quality products to our buyers. India’s artisans and small business sectors are so unorganized. In order to serve our customers well, we need to look at everything from the selection of raw material to delivery of the products. We don’t think we can get our hands everywhere, that’s where we see the value in partnering with key players from different areas of the handicrafts, handloom and small business sectors. eMalhar invites any organizations with a mission similar to theirs or need help in marketing products online, to join hands.
eMalhar.com wants to build their niche by being transparent and delivering their mission of serving buyers with the high quality, fair-priced products which are blood and tears free. “With the values that we stand for and the products we are delivering and the personalized support we provide through our sellers who stand behind what they deliver, we are certain that we can sustain and live for a good cause. We count on every buyers to understand this and bring our venture and similar social ventures to be successful and a sustainable model.”
A Welcome Message for NGOs, Self Help Organizations, Co-op Societies and Individual Sellers.
eMalhar.com targets primarily artisans, artists, farmers, the disabled (differently abled) and women entrepreneurs. They invite and train these creators; however in the current Indian scenario, it is not easy for them to manage their operations alone. eMalhar.com reach out to NGOs, Self help organizations, Co-op societies to identify creators in their area of operations and support them by setting up online stores for them. This approach will help the creators to focus on their work while along with the supporting organizations, emalhar.com will be able to setup the store and find buyers for their products. This will help more artisans and their products to reach to the world of e-commerce without the involvement of middle men.
Exploitation in the unorganized sector of handicrafts and handloom is leading many of the valuable and exclusive art and craft forms to extinction. This is the problem eMalhar.com is trying to solve. When the sellers are able to sell directly using the expanding world of e-commerce, the promoters of eMalhar.com believe that it can help to sustain India’s heritage by empowering our artisans and protecting the valuable knowledge and techniques handed over and perfected through generations.
A helping hand for the differently abled
There are many talents among the differently abled people. In India, these people are marginalized and lack opportunities to create a living (livelihood) through their work. Emalhar.com provides them a window to the world by empowering them to showcase and sell the products created by them. A case in point is eMalhar.com’s association with Handicrops, an organization run by differently abled people with the help of the public, to encourage and support self-employment by assisting people with disabilities and their families. Handicrops members are mostly working from home, making Paper Seed Pens, LED Bulbs, Paper bags, Umbrella, Handmade soap, Jewellery and other handicrafts.
Indian handicraft industry generates an estimated revenue of Rs. 35000 crore, where 15 crore people are depended on 3 crore women earning their livelihood. In the business landscape, many women entrepreneurs with ambitions for self employment and employment generation are opening up new frontiers. Many of these enterprising women are managing their small businesses while managing their home, marriage and children. However, women in the transitional economy are still facing issues like unavailability of resources, limited support from family, gender discrimination, financial barriers etc. Additionally most of these women entrepreneurs do not have enough reach to the markets or access to technology. eMalhar.com endeavors to help these women entrepreneurs by providing them access to a wider market, eliminating the need for a middleman.
Ambassadors and Mentors
eMalhar.com plans to market handicraft products/sellers through high visibility on social media, online and offline campaigns. According to the founders of eMalhar.com, this is the first step in a long journey they are envisioning to empower the small scale entrepreneurs sector in India in the world of e-commerce. “We rely on our ambassadors and mentors to identify our sellers and onboard them. We think with the help of the ambassadors and mentors, we can make it a valuable platform to showcase and sell handcrafted products which represent our cultural diversity and heritage and support our artisans.”
The eMalhar ambassador/mentor program have already received a wider acceptance in the social media. The eMalhar ambassadors and mentors are people who are passionate craft and art enthusiasts and love to help an artisan, artist or an entrepreneur. The Ambassador/Mentor program is a way for us to connect with likeminded people, while helping with different grassroots initiatives. The Ambassadors/Mentors represent eMalhar.com and its initiates in their cities & communities and help us grow through the word of mouth. They brainstorm with eMalhar team on new ideas, give feedback, write blogs and get some sneak peeks along the way. The ambassador/mentor program is open for anyone willing to spare few hours a week to support eMalhar. According to the program coordinator, an ambassador/mentor can pick ANY one of the following to be part of this vibrant community:
- Spread the word about eMalhar in your community, campus, network, family, those random Facebook friends…
- Wear our swag around town, Give feedback and brainstorm with us/fellow ambassadors.
- Attend and help organize eMalhar events to connect with other eMalhar ambassadors.
- Share our news and store/product links in social media.
- Suggest a seller or product.
- Conduct an exhibition.
- Help an entrepreneur to create a store.
- Write a blog related to eMalhar project.
- Write a blog about an artisan, artist or an entrepreneur.
- Write a blog about an art/craft form in India.
- Coordinate a special project to promote Emalhar.com.
- Help an eMalhar store on search engine optimization.
- Provide us ideas or advice to better serve our sellers and buyers.
- Get some birthday love.
Quality Products, directly from the Producers
eMalhar.com eliminates the middlemen so that the buyers can buy direct from the source; a win-win situation where the creators get a fair price for their works of art and the customer is not forced to pay middlemen through hidden fees couched in fancy jargon! Additionally, since eMalhar is reaching out to artisans from Kashmir to Kerala, a shopper would be able to shop anything from a Pashmina shawl to a mural painting from Kerala. eMalhar.com promotes ethical shopping. Since the products are sold by the creators directly, it is expected that they are blood and tears free. A purchase from eMalhar give artisans, artists and women entrepreneurs opportunities to earn their income that pays for food, education, healthcare and housing. Buyers support helps sustain longstanding trading relationships, relationships that empower artisans, support thriving businesses and strengthen communities.
According to the promoters of eMalhar.com, Indian corporate houses and CSR programs should support the eMalhar initiative to help our artisans and women and disabled (differently abled) entrepreneurs by buying from eMalhar for their corporate gifts/stationery/paintings and also can sponsor training and support programs hosted by eMalhar. Overall the team and the ambassadors and mentors of eMalhar are optimistic about the response they will get from the e-commerce, CSR and corporate markets to sustain this operation to help our artisans, artists, farmers, disabled and women entrepreneurs. Bootstrapped by a group of friends, eMahar is working hard to prove the model and scale up to future development.