When the world was confined within the four walls, Prem Devi still had to visit all the looms in her village following protocols.

She is neither a health practitioner nor a government employee. Prem Devi is a Bunker Sakhi of Jaipur rugs. She had no choice but to stay home when her fellow weavers were still busy with weaving. Instead of reducing the number of active looms to visit, she received urgent calls for more yarn and different raw materials than usual. Thus, the villages were active throughout the period. Neither Prem Devi nor the weavers in her village had time to curse the pandemic or poverty.

The COVID ‘19 has caused prolonged social and economic uncertainties everywhere. Enterprises, small or big, play a crucial role in the economic development of any country through manufacturing, commerce, and job creation.

The manufacturing sector is a vital contributor to the GDP of a country. It is also a vibrant mechanism for the growth and the creation of national wealth. The manufacturing sector is interrelated to many other sectors and simultaneously influences their growth.

The collapse of the demand-supply due to the pandemic and the global value chain has had a significant impact on the manufacturing sector in India. When the pandemic-induced lockdown swallowed the country, the rural population faced a new set of challenges. Indian rural populations migrating in mass in search of job opportunities witnessed high rates of job loss, especially in unorganized sectors, and so did the rates of reverse migration.

Resilience during pandemic

Jaipur Rugs, as a social enterprise in the rug-making business is a living example of how, by combining strong values with matchless products, a company can create both economic and humanitarian benefits for everyone.

With uncompromising values, the Jaipur Rugs family led the company with ease even during the pandemic. 

“Let goodness, fairness & most importantly, love

prevail in business; profits will inevitably follow.”  

Pandemic proved these words surprisingly.

Multiple countrywide lockdowns continued to restrain or even halt the movement of raw materials and completed goods, causing manufacturing disruptions. Simultaneously, when India faced the second-largest migration, mainly the reverse migration to villages during the pandemic, the supply chain team of Jaipur Rugs was working day and night to ramp up which resulted in doubling the production.

The apparent reason is that, amidst the uncertainties, everyone was trying to catch any livelihood opportunity available. Non-agricultural livelihood opportunities are very limited in the rural setups of India. When people flowed back to their village, the means of living was a big question.

This increased the number of people working in the looms, and so did the production at Jaipur rugs. The well-structured and independent supply chain management system and a strong network of more than 40000 artisans made Jaipur rugs’ story different from others.

What about sales? A question in your mind now.

The world was going through a tough time, and people were in a financial crisis. Who will spend money on a luxury product at this time?

But studies say that sales and revenue of not only Jaipur Rugs but most of the luxury brands have been impressive amidst the repeated lockdowns and travel restrictions. These data show not only the growth of companies but also the spending potential of the population.

Studies also raise a gap in the supply and demand of artifacts in India, that there are more buyers than the artworks available in the system.

This demand and the spending power of people, not just Indian but international customers, accelerated the sales. People had more time to beautify and renovate their homes, which doubled the demand for our handmade carpets. The situation also favored Jaipur Rugs to penetrate more into the Indian domestic market and to catch a strong ground in E-com.

How the story of Jaipur Rugs is different?

As a social innovator in the market, Jaipur Rugs was keen on building a socio-economic business model. Jaipur Rugs was 45 years ahead of the world in presenting work-from-home culture.

Being a socially conscious brand, Jaipur Rugs fosters sustainable and doorstep livelihood opportunities to the rural women along with nurturing their leadership skills. Leaders and supervisors, internally called Bunker Sakhis, are molded from within the communities.

Jaipur Rugs catalyzed the ownership of work to weavers through independent workspace and self-management techniques. The company also focused on innovative designs and promoted design-specific projects like “Manchaha”, which later made the weavers the self-made designers. 

The Jaipur Rugs Foundation ensured the social welfare and functional literacy of weavers.

Factors such as, gender-conscious practices, fair pay, along with a safe and better workplace created a strong bond between the weaver communities and the organization. Later this resulted in supporting each other during the pandemic.

Social entrepreneurship is the need of the hour. It is the only innovative measure to find solutions for societal concerns. Even the social enterprises have met with enough challenges during the pandemic. But they had better mechanisms to manage and purposes to meet.

In the past few years, climate change and catastrophes like the COVID ‘19 pandemic have induced a sort of brand consciousness among the people. They started introspecting about their choices and became less conscious about the short-term goals of low price but focused more on the long-term objectives of brands like eco-friendliness, sustainability, cruelty-free, etc. This became another reason for the rise of the era of social enterprises.

The outcome from a social enterprise will be invaluable if it combines conscious leadership and innovative management.

About the Author

Nand Kishore Chaudhary, a globally acclaimed social entrepreneur, is the founder of Jaipur Rugs. His philosophy of totality, inclusion and for-profit solutions to society are widely discussed.

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