Weaving a success via Madhubani art in Patna
New Delhi: Indian youth are partaking in the creation of employment generation, skill training while actively breaking the perceptions of profitability. 32-year-old Manjari Singh, Director of Shrijay Handicraft, is one such person. She successfully established a company in Patna to promote the Indian art of Madhubani painting in the midst of pandemic.
What makes this business unique is roping in local artisans in Patna, Bihar, to carry forward the craft as well as provide skill training and employment opportunity to the physically challenged. Manjari started her textile business with zero capital three years ago and as of 2021, is on her way to receiving a second grant of Rs5 lakh from the State government under Start-Up Bihar initiative.
"Most people who joined in our business are local artisans and some women from Darbhanga. I started my business in 2018-19, but got Start-Up Bihar approval in 2020. Under that plan, we were in contact with handicapped people and training them. We launched our venture with an intention to support handicapped people. Most of our current workforce, around 70 percent, comprises of people who have physical challenges including deaf and dumb, leg or hand deformity," Manjari told BizzBuzz.
Manjari said that her textile business with Madhubani painting on it was first started with no investments and got popularised with each order she received. She received a loan of Rs 5 lakh from the Bihar government in December 2020. "I started my textile business with just one artist in 2019 and she was my friend. Soon, we formed a group of women specialising in Madhubani painting. We later came in contact with a hospital in Patna who were treating handicapped people. We engaged with these people, in the beginning, with coloured therapy. And then the idea came in why not engage them in Madhubani painting and give them an employment opportunity," Manjari said.
Daughter of a retired Deputy Commissioner, Manjari, who completed her education from Patna Women's College in 2012, says that exposure to art and Madhubani paintings since childhood left a profound impression on her which shaped her future business aspiration.
"Like most families, my family too wanted me to go into civil services and I even cleared my Bihar Public Service Commission (BPSC) prelims in the year 2016-17. After that I decided to come into this business and not go ahead with the civil services. I have an elder brother who cleared his BPSC and now is an Assistant Commissioner whereas my younger brother is placed with an MNC. So, I'm the only entrepreneur from my family," Manjari said. Today, the company has employed over 70 artisans to create Madhubani painting on varied fabrics including jute, silk and tusser. The handmade products range from anywhere between Rs 300 to Rs16,000 depending upon the handicraft item and the efforts put in to create it.
Manjari says that Indian society has seen a positive shift towards women entrepreneurs which has helped her gain a foot on the ground as a leader and businesswoman. She said she will now look for private investments into her business. Manjari says that reopening of the physical market spaces and digital sales both have helped her expand her customer base.
In the era of fast fashion, Manjari says that handmade products and Indian artifacts have witnessed an overwhelming popularity in the urban cities. The young entrepreneur says that her hope is to attract younger customers who may not have heard of the Madhubani art and sustainable clothing.