City’s manufacturing hub, Dharavi, is all set to get a shot in the arm with a public crowdfunding campaign that aims to change the slum’s image.
The leather and pottery hub of the city, Dharavi, known for its skilled craftsmen, recently went digital with Megha Gupta’s online portal Dharavimarket.com. After a successful run, she is now set to crowdsource funds for her website.
Through the campaign, Megha is urging students and everyone interested to volunteer and be Dharavi’s Messiah. These ambassadors will pitch locally made Dharavi products to several stand alone bag stores and brands in their own neighbourhoods and get a chance to earn commission on the sales they make if the shopkeepers stock or buy the products. With this, the craftsmen will have a presence in many stores in the entire country. Megha says, “The firm’s initial investment was used to put the basic website in place and some in working capital. We now intend to take the initiative forward with the help of crowdfunding. The aim is to create a brand for Dharavi, by giving their products an identity.”
It was during her first visit to the slums that Megha found immense potential in the area. “I visited it for my research in town and transport planning when I came across Dharavi for the first time. Every single house over there has something or the other to offer. People consider it to be poor, and don’t think of it as a place they would easily visit and that’s where we bridge the gap.”
This made sure that the craftsmen got a majority of share, “We have over 300 artisans with us, we deal in everything but plastic and glass. Most of the orders we take our in bulk and are from corporate houses who want to us design gifts, giveaways, customised passport holders, pen stands, etc,” she says.
Megha now wishes to promote their products online, via e-commerce websites and offline through the Dharavi Messiah campaign. “We recently invited NIFT designers and got some products designed. The artists are born and brought up in Dharavi and need new ways to market their products. We also want to start vocational training programmes to upgrade the skills of the craftsmen and buy tools for better finishing of the products. Since its inception, Megha’s portal has created over hundred contractual jobs for the local artisans and exported goods to over five continents. “We have changed the the perception of Dharavi from a poverty stricken ghetto to a skilled, manufacturing hub full of talented, hardworking artisans. The skilled men in Dharavi will now get trained to sell and market their products and reach heights,” she signs off.