XLRI does a Flipkart with tribal handicraft

So, you've been shopping online for clothes, tech gadgets, lipsticks and cellphones. What about Janumdih village grass mats?

In a wired world, one can even Google the village in Potka block, some 40km from Jamshedpur. But some students of premier B-school XLRI are taking the rural digital footprint many steps ahead with an e-shopping portal, Createkaro, dedicated to selling rural handicraft.

When the portal formally gets up and going in April, rural craftspersons, starting with Janumdih and gradually elsewhere across the state, will find buyers from anywhere across India.

For instance, 20-year-old grass weaver Rani Hansda of Janumdih won't have to worry about stepping out of her village to even the nearest city, Jamshedpur, for buyers. Someone sitting in say, Chennai, can buy her creations over clicks and credit card details.

The brainchild of Deepak Suri, Abhinav Srivastav, Shivangi Srivastava and Gaurav Gupta, all XLRI's general management programme students, NGOs Kalamandir and Seeds have also collaborated on the project.

The quartet feels the e-shopping portal marries the best of commerce and social conscience.

"As of now, only a Createkaro webpage is up there. The online shopping portal for handicraft, handloom and rural products should start functioning in two months. We're hoping to change the way village artisans, NGOs and self-help groups think about marketing and promoting rural products," said Deepak.

He added that their group went to Janumdih last October and came back "singing the praises of grass mats".

"We came back and thought of tribal skills and the amazing stuff they make with their hands. Take dokra, for instance. Then, there are bamboo wind chimes, pen stands made of the bark of a tree, tribal paintings, textiles and so on. The unique products have great demand in metros like New Delhi and Mumbai but don't get the right exposure. Finally, we decided to create an e-shopping platform to widen the consumer base," Abhinav added.

An e-shopping portal will also eliminate the dreaded middleman and put profits directly in the hands of the artisans, NGOs and self-help groups.

The quartet promises that Createkaro will have the ease of a Flipkart or Ebay, but offer more than conventional e-shopping portals.

"When you shop online, you choose your product and key in your card details. Here, you'll do the same but you can also browse through pictures and read about the people, the village and the art form. That's the social side to our promotion," Deepak said.

From April, when you shop online, you won't just feel good, you'll do good too.