Handcrafting the lives of rural artisans, one rug at a time - Jaipur Rugs Foundation

In some of it's most remote corners, India houses communities of artisans who have, for years and years altogether, been practising the art of hand-weaving to produce some of the finest and uniquely artsy carpets this world has ever seen. With the advent of technology and subsequently the use of advanced machinery, a lot of human work is being automated for this work to be faster, as well as to enhance the quantitative aspect of production. As a result of this, hand-weaving of carpets, one of the very old skills that has been practised by the people in some of the remotest parts of the country is moving towards extinction.

Enter the Jaipur Rugs model. Mr. Nand Kishore Chaudhry, with his sheer passion to empower the rural artisans and with the aim of giving them a lot more than just employment, established Jaipur Rugs Company to not only provide a propel to the then carpet industry with it's roots in the rural India, but also provide the rural artisans with dignity along with employment, above all. What began as a means to eradicate the exploitation of the middlemen in the carpet industry moved on to revolutionize the carpet industry in India, with NK Chaudhry's vision driven by his sheer commitment to improve the standard of living for these rural artisans. Through the coming years, he developed a network of more than 40,000 artisans spread across five states, who today work with dignity.

A vision to create a society where equality, justice & peace prevail through socio-economic development opportunities for all..

But there was a lot more that was needed to be done. Only providing a means of employment to uplift the artisans economically and bring about a radical change in their lives was not something that could sustain with the same vigor. In order to cater to this need, and with the art of hand-weaving nearing extinction, NK Chaudhry established Jaipur Rugs Foundation in 2004. Built on the bedrocks of love and compassion, Jaipur Rugs Foundation (or JRF) engages with the rural artisan communities to build their creative skills, along with providing them opportunities to do more and sustain themselves through this movement for empowerment.

With a vision to create a society where equality, justice & peace prevail through socio-economic development opportunities for all, Jaipur Rugs Foundation today has it's footprints in around 600 villages across Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Jharkhand and Bihar where they have been handcrafting the lives of people coming in from destitute communities.

Programmes at JRF

Jaipur Rugs Foundation, with a strong team of a little less than 10 employees currently headed by Mr Bhushan Reddy as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), houses it's headquarters in Jaipur. At present, their work is primarily focused in two areas - Entrepreneurship Development and Social Development. JRF's mission is to serve as a social innovator promoting the cause of artisans by providing them with decent work opportunities and lead them towards their socio-economic well-being.

Entrepreneurship Development

The overall scope of Entrepreneurship Development branches out into 2 significant verticals - Skill Development and Leadership Development.

JRF directs it's efforts into pursuing unemployed & unskilled women living in rural villages and seeks to train them in the craft of rug-weaving. Once the woman is transformed into a working artisan, she also gets an opportunity to integrate with the Jaipur Rugs inclusive development model. The subsequent phase is to deliver technical training and augment their skills & knowledge through up-gradation. This completes the skill-building facet of transforming women artisans, who now have earned economic independence, working from home.

Subsequently, the process of engaging the artisans with the vision of the organization is followed by a series of trainings which aim at instilling an entrepreneurial mindset among artisans, in order to enable them to take control of their own lives. Till date, JRF has created more than 6000 jobs, spearheaded by 38,000+ leaders from the grassroots at different levels, and impacting more than 32,000 lives as an outcome of this.

A Bunkar Sakhi (literally meaning "a weaver's friend") is one example of a grassroots leader at Jaipur Rugs. Check out the story of Rajo Devi, a Bunkar Sakhi from Rajasthan:

Social Development

JRF focuses on socio-economically enabling the artisans and communities surrounding them. Through Social Development, they seek to provide access to basis resources & facilities, especially for those who are devoid of them.

Alternative Education Programme

Alternative Education Programme launched by the foundation provides basic functional literacy education to marginalized communities set up across marginalized villages in India. It is limited not only to artisans and their families, but anybody who wishes to learn. The focus is on selecting teachers from within the community to be responsible for imparting knowledge among fellow villagers, in their vernacular for smoother communication. Till date, more than 1000 women have successfully graduated under the AEP. Check out a video that talks about the programme:

Health Care

Health camps are organized throughout several villages belonging to artisan communities by bringing in medical professionals & doctors who carry out regular health check-ups. Checkups and medications are provided for anyone in need and are not limited not merely to artisans & their families. Till date, more than 20,000 artisans have benefitted from these health camps and more than 80 cataract operations have been carried out.

Financial Inclusion

JRF seeks to equip artisans with the basic skills and knowledge that will help them save for a brighter future of their own and their families. They are made aware of various government schemes, and provided active assistance in filling forms, arranging documents and in linking the artisans to the bank ecosystem. Till date, around 1900 artisans have been assisted with financial inclusion.

Apart from the above mentioned programmes, the Social Development aspect of JRF assists the artisans in taking benefit of government schemes through helping them procure Artisan Cards & Udyog Numbers and making them aware about various insurance schemes available for their secure future.

Way ahead

For this year, the work of JRF is largely aligned with fulfilling the commitment the foundation has made to Every Women Every Child (EWEC), a movement that aims to intensify national and international commitment and action by Governments, the United Nations, multi laterals, the private sector and civil society to ensure that women, children and adolescents are at the heart of development.

JRF wants to ensure commitment towards EWEC to impart benefits in areas like skill training, sustainable income generation, functional literacy, leadership training and access to health care for women & children to the rural communities that they engage with.

How can you contribute?

Jaipur Rugs Foundation has volunteering, internship, full-time as well as philanthropic opportunities for people wishing to get involved.

For volunteering/internship/full-time opportunities, check this out: www.jaipurrugs.org/join-us If you wish to donate, please head over to this link:


Important Links

For any queries/questions, you can reach out to Jaipur Rugs Foundation here: Email Address: info@jaipurrugs.org

Website: www.jaipurrugs.org Facebook: www.facebook.com/JaipurRugsFoundation Twitter: www.twitter.com/JRFIndia Head Office Address: G-250, Mansarovar Industrial Area, Jaipur-302020, Rajasthan, India.

If you like this story, do share and spread the word. More stories to follow! :)

Pictures courtesy: www.jaipurrugs.org

#livelihoods #jaipur #rural #artisans #weaving

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