Eco Kargha Partners With Upaya to Build Employment Opportunities for Bhagalpur Weavers

Eco Kargha Handicrafts Marketing Pvt. Ltd. is proud to announce that it has joined with Upaya Social Ventures to employ marginalized Tasar silk weavers in Bhagalpur, Bihar - a region commonly associated with the high-luster, strong, and lightweight fabric. With Upaya’s backing, Eco Kargha will hire and train slum-dwellers on new skills, techniques, equipment, and designs for producing wholesale Tasar silk as well as linen, cotton, and fine wool. Terms of the investment were not disclosed.

“Bhagalpur weavers have long been regarded as artists creating magic on their handlooms, but have faced challenges in scaling up the industry beyond handicrafts,” said Dr. Ravi Chandra, Founder and Director of Eco Kargha. “With Upaya’s help, we will be able create systems that will impact thousands of weaving families in a sustainable manner,” he said.

Bhagalpur is known for being the traditional home of Tasar silk products, and as many as 100,000 families are in some way involved in its production. However, while it is an increasingly popular material in men’s and women’s clothing, Tasar silk cultivation and production in the area remains very unstructured. The majority of people weaving Tasar silk do so as a secondary occupation as the linkages to tools, materials, training, and markets are not in place for weaving to be a primary livelihood for a significant number of people.

“The Eco Kargha team has spent years working with some of the poorest populations in Bihar, and the founders have a keen sense of both the needs and productive potential of Bhagalpur's artisans,” said Sachi Shenoy, Executive Director of Upaya Social Ventures. “We at Upaya look forward to working with Eco Kargha to develop a sound business model that can create a number of new jobs and social benefits for this geography.”

Most Eco Kargha weavers qualify as ultra poor - generally living under $1.25 a day at the time of their hire – and over 50% belong to a backward caste, scheduled caste, or minority community. Furthermore, the United Nations Development Programme has identified Bihar as one of the states in India with the highest rates of domestic migration in search of work because of the lack of opportunities to earn a viable living locally.