Self Employed Women’s Association  
SEWA
Self Employed Women’s Association
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  Sewa Trade Facilitation Centre(STFC)
 
 
Background:
The Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) has been promoting an integrated approach to livelihood security of women in the informal sector for the past three decades. It has been actively working towards women’s empowerment. SEWA comprises of over 11,000 grassroots’ producer groups, 200 cooperatives and 11 federations in seven states of India. SEWA’s model of self-reliance is based on organizing women to gain full employment and self reliance.

SEWA Trade Facilitation Centre:
In response to the demand for creating sustainable livelihood strategies for the poorest of the poor women producers, The SEWA Trade Facilitation Centre (STFC) was established in May 2003 as the commercial arm of SEWA by more than 15000 women artisans in the textiles and handicrafts sector. The vision of STFC was to ensure that craftswomen in the informal sector have socio-economic security and full employment, by building a grassroots’ business enterprise of the artisans. STFC achieves this by sustained, profitable, and efficient coordination of the design, production, and marketing of their products and services in mainstream national and global markets.
STFC has transformed the grassroots craft activity into a full fledge commercial enterprise. Erstwhile the artisan women though skilled in hand embroidery had to forcibly migrate in search of work, or undertake earth digging work. The trade of their old valuable embroidered trouso would typically occur during distressed time. This would occur with traders and middlemen since the artisans had access to a very limited market. Moreover they only had their traditional skills but still required products which they could sell in the market. Lack of market information hindered artisans from building a strong relationship with the buyers. With the inception of STFC, integrated supply chain mechanism was created and the production became organized.
Currently STFC has 3500 artisan shareholders in 80 villages across 3 Districts in Gujarat
The product range produced by shareholders of STFC and marketed by STFC includes
• Apparels,
• Home furnishings
• Accessories, Stationary & Gifts


STFC’s Mission:
STFC is the business organization of the women artisan members of SEWA. The main objective is creating value for its members by developing, manufacturing, marketing and selling its members’ craft thru textile based and similar products and ensuring livelihood security.


STFC’s Mission:
1. Provide its members (shareholders) long term livelihood security by selling the embroideries and craft skills of its shareholders (members).
2. Enroll increasing number of rural artisan women into its membership
3. Become the largest organized producer and seller of handcrafted textile based embroideries in the world.
4. Revive and grow the ethnic embroidery skills of its members communities
5. Evolve a business model which balances between the livelihoods and market.
STFC will continuously strengthen its functions and processes to fulfill its missions and to appropriately and timely respond to the ever changing market dynamics.

USP of STFC:
• Embroidery- All the products are hand embroidered hand crafted
• 65% of the sales proceeds go directly to the artisans
• Not only are the artisans, the suppliers of the company, more importantly they are managers and owners (shareholders) of the company

STFC’s Operations:
STFC’s Operations begin at its Common Resource Centre, also known as Vastralaya at Ahmedabad. Vastralaya houses STFC’s headquarters and also it’s Common Facility Centre with over 100 machines right from cutting to finishing stages. This centre also has the warehouse and a state of the art design cell.
STFC works on a demand driven approach. Based on the market demand and forecasts the in-house design cell of STFC continuously works on the new product and design development considering the national and international market trends, buyers preferences, and even for its own brand for retail customers. STFC mostly works on the 3 seasons for the retail market, focusing more on festivals of the season and follows the buyers season and cycle. Master crafts persons are been involved in the sampling process.
STFC’s main production is been carried out in the home of the artisans, and hence it is not the production carried under one roof. Therefore products have to travel to the districts. Raw material is procured at the STFC based on the orders received and merchandise plan of the retails stores. A ‘state of the art’ ERP software calculates exact requirements for each order. Products are semi finished at the Common Facility Centre in Ahmedabad, and sent for the embroidery at the villages with composite kits that contain products, mirrors, threads and other accessories.
At the district level the trained leaders – spearhead team is responsible for the day to day distribution of the products for the embroidery and collection of the embroidered pieces. Hence no women go back without work from the center, and payments are done on the spot. Over and above the leaders are responsible for day to day quality checks at the villages’ level.
The whole process is monitored using an advanced ERP solution
STFC has a highly decentralized production base spread across 200 villages, 60 groups and 3500 artisans. Hence the major challenges are
• Maintaining uniformity in hand embroidery
• Effective monitoring of quality control system
• Cost reduction.
STFC has tried to overcome some of these challenges by product standardization, cutting down processing costs, effective vendor development.

The major tasks undertaken by STFC include:
Establishing market linkages
STFC has a well designed marketing strategy that across a range of channels. These include a judicious mix of dedicated retail outlets, institutional sales by way of B2B marketing, exhibitions in the major metro and emerging cities in India and exports to the USA, Europe, South Africa and Japan and promote e marketing through the STFC portal.
STFC has two retail stores in Ahmedabad and Delhi, and planning to open 2 more outlets, one in Bombay and additional one in Delhi.

Hansiba, Brand Building:
STFC operates in the B2C retail market thru its brand Hansiba. A key task at STFC is to promote the brand Hansiba as a premium hand crafted brand. These efforts have intensified the recent few months as STFC recognizes B2C as the future growth driver

Training and Capacity Building:
STFC has brought the innovative solutions which help the artisans to build their competitive edge in the in the market. STFC has designed training modules that aim at continuous skill up gradation and skill development of the artisans. STFC continuously assesses the skill levels of artisans with A, B, and C analysis of their embroidery skills. Special training modules are prepared for C grade and B grade artisans to upgrade their skills, Orientation of the shareholders, Quality checking measures, Capacity building of the master craftswomen to run common production center, Costing, Business planning, production planning, and Micro enterprise management etc. STFC has also partnered with design specialists and institutions like NIFT and NID to address the need for continuous skill up gradation for its artisans. STFC is also engaged in building the capabilities of its artisans as grassroots managers to ensure efficiency at all stages of operations. The grassroots artisan leaders are trained in all aspects of managerial training by the SEWA Managers School STFC and linkages with established with IIM Ahmedabad.

Deploying Technology to enhance productivity:
The craft artisans are scattered across numerous villages in the Kutch and Patan districts. Setting up an efficient supply chain has been a major challenge facing STFC operations. In order to improve the efficiency of the supply chain and be able to track orders processes, improve speed and efficiencies and be able to track orders, STFC has implemented a MIS system. This has resulted in strengthening the backward linkage (namely distribution of work, collection, wage generation, wage tracking, quality tracking) and also in improving the overall business strategy and operations.

Current Status of STFC:

• Annual Turnover: over 2 crores
• Total Employment Generated: 3500 rural artisans 200 urban garment workers
• Provides an average monthly income of Rs. 1200 – Rs. 1500.
• Established a state of art Common Facility Centre in Ahmedabad with the production capacity of 350 pieces a day
• Trained around 200 young members of SEWA in multiple garmenting skills from cut to finish.
• Business partnerships with large National retailers and International buyers.
• STFC has successfully organised fashion shows in Spain and New York with a premium product range.
• Created a cadre of Grassroots business managers to streamline the entire production process & establish a robust supply chain
• Technical Partnership with IFC to evolve a commercial business strategy.
• Provide market access and business development services to grassroots artisans groups from the Northeast, Bihar, Orissa, Rajasthan and other South Asian countries: Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan.
• Constituted a core cell within the Ministry of Textiles to enable formulate pro-poor policy.
• STFC has been actively working on initiating the Women and Trade task force to mainstream poor women in global trade and organized no. of consultations with policy makers.


Financial Performance of the Company
• Share Capital of Company: Rs. 1,41,75,800
• Income of the Company: Rs. 3,01,75,956
• Total asset of the Company: Rs. 3,79,57,992

Way Forward:
STFC has traversed a significant distance along the path of building as a model, artisan owned, sustainable business enterprise. STFC now is clear on the future journey. STFC needs to communicate the USP of “Hand Embellishment” successfully.
STFC has gained experience in the retail market through both B2B and B2C businesses and feels that it is the right time to start focusing on marketing embellishments. STFC’s marketing focus now is to communicate STFC product as “Wearable Art” instead of a garment.
STFC’s strategy is proposed which focuses on the ethnic / ethno modern women’s apparels, home furnishings and gifts /accessories in the high end premium market, the mainstream fashion market, and staple products market. STFC is entering into the high end premium market segment by co-branding with the labels and designers or design houses. The strategy is to market the embroideries and designs so as to get more remuneration to the artisan women. STFC plan to achieve the 100% growth in the business in the next 3 years.

Self Employed Women's Association
SEWA Reception Centre, Opp. Victoria Garden, Bhadra, Ahmedabad - 380 001. India.
Phone : 91-79-25506444 / 25506477 / 25506441, Fax : 91 - 79 - 25506446, Email :mail@sewa.org
     
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