India has close to 2.3 million handlooms with major centers in Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh. The handloom industry in India is among the largest in the world. Almost 90 per cent of the world’s handlooms come from India. This industry employs close to ten million artisans in India and is considered the second largest income generating activity after agriculture in rural India.
A weaver can produce fabrics worth at least Rs 30,000 to Rs 50,000 a month. The cost of material is usually 10 to 15 per cent; this gives a handsome return on investment in only about two to three months. The handloom sector employs 10 million artisans and can employ more. It can enable reverse migration possibilities, from urban to rural, and reduce stress on urban infrastructure.
There are multiple tech disruption possibilities here. Handloom has the opportunity to create a cab aggregator type of business model, which enables matching of disaggregated demand and supply. There is disaggregated supply (2.3 million handlooms scattered across India) and disaggregated demand (rural, urban and international).
Handloom is well suited to rural India where there are power problems as it does not depend on electricity. Power looms can’t give hand woven custom-made designs. Handlooms can.