A group of women from financially deprived families were only able to sell clothes and bags worth Rs 1,35,000 at an exhibition in the run-up to the Puja.
Last year, the sale was of around Rs 71,000. While the women are upbeat about it, the members of the NGO that works with the women said that the sale is more this year because of the range of products and not because people are buying more. Buyers are careful about how much they are spending, the head of the NGO said.
“It is disappointing,” said Arjun Dutta, the president of Calcutta Social Project, the NGO, that runs a craft centre where the women are trained. “The sale went up by a mere Rs 30,000 from last year,” said Dutta.
This year the NGO included a new range of kantha products that fetched around Rs 34,000. The total sale came from two heads — Rs 1,01,615 from clothes, bags and home accessories and Rs 33,600 from kantha products, a new addition this year. The surplus was distributed among the women as a bonus.
According to the members of the NGO, there were many who visited the exhibition but only a few were ready to spend money on the items made by the women.
“People were thinking before making a purchase. There are some who placed orders, despite the fact that we had the product in stock. This is a clear indication that they want to stagger the purchase,” said Dutta.
Since the crafts centre does not have the facility of paying in instalments, buyers delayed the delivery, he said. The Telegraph had reported how the bazaars were brimming with people but traders had said that the pre-Puja business is not near the pre-pandemic levels.
“The market conditions are not supportive,” said Dutta.
The crafts centre also had an excess stock from what was left unsold in the last two years. This year, the NGO helped a group of women from Nanoor in Birbhum with interest-free loans to start their business. The women came up with the kantha products.
“The women had no business during the last two years and with the interest-free loans they were able to revive their work and get some orders. We helped them market their products at the exhibition,” said Barsha Mukherjee of Calcutta Social Project.
“Rather than an annual sale, we have to consider a period of sale from before the Puja till December. This way, hopefully, the results would be better,” said Dutta.