Nine second-year MBA students from the Department of Management, came together during their recent summer internship, to use modern marketing strategies to help sell quality rural products to the wide global market.
Having received a grant of Rs 2.5 lakhs from the Ministry of Micro-Medium and Small Enterprises, Government of India, the team worked on an e-commerce portal for the online sale of handicraft products made by traditional craftspeople from the Kerala region.
Sreejith, one of the team members, shared how it all began.
“We attended an interesting talk on Entrepreneurship by Br. Kailash of Amrita TBI; it was then that we first mooted this idea.”
Amrita TBI is the Technology Business Incubator on campus, a joint initiative between the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India and Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham.
Amrita TBI helps groom young entrepreneurs, and guided this team along.
“in addition, we received much guidance from Dr. Meera, Chairperson, MBA Program at Amritapuri, and we went ahead, step-by-step to implement our plan.”
The team commissioned a study across the state of Kerala to identify producers of quality rural handicrafts. In the process, it learned about problems faced by the craftspeople.
Prasad is an artisan from Waynaad. “I have been in this field for the past twenty years,” he says. “In all this time, while prices for everything else have gone up, I have seen only a miniscule increase in the amount paid to us by the middle-men for the handicrafts we produce.”
“Since we do not have the means to set up shops, very few people buy from us directly. At the end of the day, we have no option other than to sell our products to middlemen at low prices. The middlemen exploit all our resources.”
The team found that several talented artisans were forced to leave traditional occupations to work as laborers. Their study also revealed that artisans were not always able to accurately determine the correct prices for the unique products they make, taking into account the talent and effort invested in production.
“Our aim is to identify and market products that meet the highest quality standards of an international market,” stated Dr. Meera. “The team will also promote products made by women self-help groups.”
“Inspired by Amma’s charitable activities, we always wanted to give something meaningful back to society,” added Renjith, another member of the team.
Currently engaged in vendor development, promotional activities and development of the e-commerce portal (www.handiques.com), team members are busy. “We expect the portal to be functional by late July 2010,” they informed.
June 19, 2010
Department of Management, Amritapuri