Meet Radhika Gupta, Co-Founder of Raaha
Raaha is a South Asian women-founded company operating between the San Francisco Bay Area, US, and India. In 6 months, they have built a network of over 300 artisans, non-profits, social entrepreneurs, and impact organizations.
As an entrepreneur and consultant with over 12 years of experience in nurturing, leading, and sustainably scaling businesses, Radhika has worked with over 2000 creative entrepreneurs and direct-to-consumer brands. The company successfully hosted over 65 trade shows promoting small businesses and generating $1 million in sales in 2018.
Radhika is passionate about working with people driven by purpose and loves connecting people and creating meaningful partnerships. Her love for handmade and artisan-made products and drives creates opportunities that provide sustainable livelihoods for women in local creative economies that have led her to start Raaha.
Radhika also serves on the board of advisors for social impact organizations working in gender equity in India and volunteers as the events lead for a non-profit community for women passionate about social impact in the San Francisco Bay Area.
What is Raaha and what inspired you to work on this idea?
A year ago I realized that the Artisan economy in India and other developing countries is the 2nd largest employer after agriculture. It employs 300 Million people globally and 75% are women! With the demand for indigenous crafts and cultural knowledge that artisan communities around the world have slowly faded, it felt urgent to find new solutions that can grow demand for their products and skills. I decided to follow my passion for working at the intersection of business, sustainability, and gender equity; this led me to start Raaha.
Raaha powers growth in the artisan economy through impact led solutions and building a transparent & fairer gifting movement that leads women artisans in developing economies towards sustainable growth and an equitable future.
Our core offerings are :
Curated craft-based workshops hosted by Artisans — this generates employment, enables artisans to continue practicing their crafts, gives indigenous art forms & artisans a global platform to showcase their skill and share cultural knowledge with global citizens. (Hosted for groups, kids, teens, communities, companies & employees)
Ethical and Intent driven gifting — with the change in consumers’ consumption patterns and priorities, we encourage companies to give better employee engagement gifts. We partner with artisans and social enterprises to curate handmade gifts for environmentally positive companies and create employment.
How did your expertise in fashion & marketing help you in building Raaha?
Handmade products and artisan enterprises lack strong marketing and storytelling resources. My expertise in fashion and marketing helps me bring that to the table to create attractive propositions for the makers! Raaha can identify market and consumer demands, and with the help of our team of experts and consultants, we are delivering products that appeal to the conscious consumer!
What are some of the financial problems and challenges faced by women artisans in rural India, and how is Raaha helping overcome them?
Women artisans in India have been known as ‘shadow workers’; they have never been at the forefront of enterprises. The artisan economy has been an unorganized sector. There haven’t been enough interventions to support women financially and give them access to tools and resources like — cell phones, the internet, bank accounts, business loans, etc. There are also the effects of COVID where the unpaid care work burden increases, reducing the number of hours women can work, further increasing the income gap between them and their male counterparts.
What are the 3P’s of Raaha, and why are they important?
People, Planet, and Progress are Raaha’s 3 P’s, and we firmly believe that businesses need to rethink their priorities for the future.
Business Success can no longer be measured in profit and loss; it needs to be measured by the impact a business is having on the people and planet and how it’s contributing to the progress of the sector it’s working in.
Can you share any advice on how someone can be a more conscious consumer?
- Educate yourself, read, listen to podcasts and understand the impact of your purchase
- Start small: small changes = big impact. You can’t bring this change overnight, so set realistic weekly goals for yourself ( I am not going to get takeout coffee or use disposable cups)
- Buy things you need, plan your shopping, and but quality over quantity
- Buy handmade products- they are innately more sustainable than mass-manufactured products
You recently launched The Artisan Shop to support weavers and artisans further. Can you share more about your mission and vision?
The Artisan Shop is a Covid relief effort + Not-for-profit initiative by Raaha + Ka-sha + Loom & Hand.
It is a movement of collective action to support our Weavers + Artisans by giving access to global consumers to buy directly from the makers.
The shutdowns severely impact the artisan economy as a result of the second wave of Covid-19 in India. After reaching out to 250+ artisan families through a ration drive, we asked the artisans how we could continue to support them, and their response was ‘We need to sell’.
We identified 18 artisans and uploaded 500+ Handloom products they have in stock. The artisans decide all prices, and 100% of that goes back to them.
As a female founder, you have built a solid personal brand for yourself on social media. How do you keep yourself up to date with industry trends and consumer needs while supporting the artisan economy?
I have to be honest; I am not always up to date with trends, which can be exhausting! I just read a lot about relevant topics, and the rest I learn on the job. If you are passionate about something, you find yourself getting attracted to people who share that with you, so I guess my social media feed is full of influencers and advocates for equity and sustainable practices.
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