Total loan: $20,000
Mumbai, MH, India / Arts
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A loan helped to provide regular employment and financial stability for expert wood carvers in India.
Throughout her childhood, Sonali traveled frequently to India. She was amazed by the sheer number of regional crafts, which were unique and beautiful. But, the artisans who made them were struggling. No longer able to earn a living wage, an increasing number of master craftsmen were forced to give up their craft in exchange for a life of abject poverty as unskilled workers. These concerns became a call to action, leading Sonali to found Mela Artisans. Mela Artisans blends traditional handcrafting techniques with contemporary design to promote social uplift in artisan communities. By helping artisans access new markets, Mela works to ensure their livelihoods while keeping ancient traditional alive, and allowing artisans to succeed as entrepreneurs and artists. Mela Artisans is helping to increase financial capacity of local artisans by providing a 25% advance to producers against each order and pay in full upon shipment. As orders increase and more capital is required, Mela Artisans helps producer groups forge banking relationships that help them scale up, while avoiding high interest rates and debt burdens from local moneylenders. This sustainable model helps ensure financial stability for Mela Artisans artisans and their families, particularly in Uttar Pradesh - one the poorest states in India, where Mela Artisans focuses. In 2015, Sonali received her first Kiva loan to expand the line of Mela Artisans products to include embroidered pillows and increase jobs for artisans in India. The loan was able to reach and support more artisans, securing the resources for additional training and new materials. In 2016, Sonali received her second Kiva loan. Sonali used this loan to place an order for 500 placemats made by hand by weavers using natural fibers, employing more women and gaining new customers. Sonali plans to use this Kiva loan to provide steady employment for a community of wood carvers in Saharanpur, India. Sonali has been working with these wood carvers for more than four years, helping them sustain their traditional crafts in today's marketplace. With this loan, Sonali will be able to make additional purchase orders, buy more products, and introduce new styles to Mela Artisans buyers. Ultimately, this will allow Mela Artisans to support even more artisans in India - since 2015, the number of artisans supported by Mela Artisans has grown from 5,000 to more than 7,000 talented craftspeople. The artisans supported through this loan will contribute more than 50% of their household income to supporting their families, with women artisans contributing up to 80% of their income to the wellbeing of their children. The impact of financial stability for these artisans, especially women, will create the potential for a higher quality of life for the next generation. By working with Mela Artisans, the men and women employed through this loan will be able to revitalize their ancient techniques, and create a vibrant future for their families built upon generations of preserved craft traditions.