Ericsson India has announced the launch of its new CSR initiative, “Baank-e-Loom” in partnership with Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF). The initiative envisages digital development of the handloom weavers’ community in Saidanpur, Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh. Through digital Integration of traditional skills and communities, Ericsson India aims to empower traditional artisans in embracing new technologies, designs, and scaling up traditional weaving methods by employing ICT tools in marketing and sales.
The project primarily involves the use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) and other digital tools in critical aspects of cluster development, thereby ensuring sustainable livelihood creation for the youth in the clusters.
Barabanki handloom community is beset with ground level concerns such as lack of information, lack of awareness, inability to market products profitably, and direct access to the market. As part of the Baank-e-Loom initiative, the local weaver population will be offered ICT training to help better market their products. Simultaneously, an e-commerce portal would be set-up under the project to channelize the sales of the products. A community information resource center, established as part of the initiative, will offer digital literacy, English speaking courses and digital information services to the local population. Additionally, Ericsson India is supporting development of Cluster Wireless Network for providing access to wireless connectivity for schools, health centers and anganwadi centers in the cluster, as part of its vision of creating a ‘Networked Society’.
Manoj Dawane, VP & Head - Technology, Government & Industry Relations, Sustainability & Corp Responsibility, Ericsson India, said, “Ericsson is a leading advocate of Technology for Good. It is a concept we work with every day to address various issues that we believe impact the society or environment. Our, Baank-e-Loom, initiative aims to promote inclusive growth and development of the Barabanki handloom community. We are confident that this initiative will help make a positive impact on the weaver community at Barabanki.”
“Our partnership with DEF will enable us to transform the lives of the weaver community and help build tertiary skills to encourage entrepreneurship and self- sustainability of the cluster members.” He further added.
Osama Manzar, Founder & Director, DEF, said, “For the entire Barabanki weaver' community, Baank-e-Loom is an intervention that will uplift the handloom weavers' socio-economic status from depravity to self-reliance through the use of the Internet, digital design and broadband. Baank-e-Loom is just the tip of an iceberg which shows how digital interventions can empower a traditional weaving skill-based cluster. Starting in Saidanpur, Baank-e-Loom could be a replicable lesson for all the 470 handloom clusters of India."
The Project will focus on implementing four major initiatives which will help in enabling integrated development of the cluster for long-term sustainable livelihood creation
· Establishing and provisioning for the availability of access to Internet and wireless connectivity as basic infrastructure within the cluster by setting up 10 wireless hotspots
· Establishing Cluster Design Resource Center enabled with digital tools and infrastructure to hold community sessions and training programs
· Developing skills of local youth and providing specific trainings for entrepreneurship
· Developing an e-Commerce portal, exclusively for the clusters’ entrepreneurs, products, skills and services for national and global-level customers
· Setting up a design library as a repository of traditional and new designs
· Providing digital literacy to 1000 locals and training selected youth as ‘Core Master Digital Designers’ for providing design services as entrepreneurs to weavers
· Ensuring benefits to locals through access to information on government entitlements and citizen services
During the course of the project, DEF will be implementing a series of immediate, short-term and long-term steps, including regular DEF visits, surveys, local representation and implementation of mobilization process among the weaver community.
Ericsson is also running a global education initiative 'Connect to Learn' in India. Connect To Learn implements information and communications technology (ICT) in schools and learning centers in resource poor settings, to ensure that children, no matter where they live, have access to learning resources and a quality education. In line with the vision of a complete 21st Century education for everyone, the program provides an opportunity for youth to access learning resources that were previously unavailable to them.