Empowering communities: The impact of Flipkart Samarth's social entrepreneurs

Empowering communities: The impact of Flipkart Samarth's social entrepreneurs
  • Captain Indraani Singh from Haryana: Breaking barriers in aviation and empowering communities through Indha Crafts.
  • Nishat Begum, an inspiring entrepreneur from Madhya Pradesh: Leading the charge in preserving traditional handicrafts
  • Komal Prasad Paul, a resilient entrepreneur from West Bengal who turned a personal tragedy into triumph
  • Chitrangan Pal from Odisha, the heartland of Sambalpuri sarees and how he revolutionized the traditional handloom business bringing ancient craftsmanship into mainstream fashion.

In the realm of business, where the focus typically revolves around financial gains and market dynamics, there is a distinctive group of individuals who have harnessed the transformative potential of entrepreneurship rooted in social responsibility. They are the ‘Social Entrepreneurs’, who have not only achieved excellence in their entrepreneurial pursuits but have also dedicated themselves to uplifting and supporting the communities they hail from. Their inspiring journey reflects a deep alignment with the values upheld by Flipkart – leveraging the power of e-commerce to bring about positive change, skillfully combining financial success with a positive societal influence.

As we delve into the motivating journeys of these ‘social entrepreneurs’, we uncover stories of sellers who have excelled in business while leaving a significant mark on their communities. These stories represent not just financial success but a legacy of transformation.

Empowering Artisans, Uplifting Communities
Name: Nishat Begum
NGO: Anuna
Location: Madhya Pradesh


India has a rich history in traditional handicrafts, handlooms, and handmade products. Over the decades, generations of artisans have passed down and honed their skills in specialized crafts of their choice. There are lakhs of such artisan clusters across India. Many of these artisans are marginalized women and men, and are often the sole bread earners for their families. Due to limited familiarity with modern digital market dynamics, these artisans often find themselves vulnerable to intermediaries, which, in turn, poses challenges to their livelihood. Consequently, this trend contributes to a waning interest in traditional crafts and a significant loss of income for the artisans involved.

The problem can be addressed with professional training and handholding in digital entrepreneurship, and the medium of e-commerce, something that the Samarth program by Flipkart and its NGO partners are working towards.

Flipkart Samarth is a program dedicated to helping underprivileged sections of society and supporting organizations that are committed to societal good. The program has been creating meaningful opportunities that empower millions of artisans, weavers, and micro-entrepreneurs to help them achieve financial independence. Since its launch in 2019, Flipkart Samarth has enabled pan-India market access for lakhs of ambitious entrepreneurs.

Today, the program supports and benefits over 1.5 million livelihoods nationwide. Nishat Begum, who heads an organization of artisans in Bhopal, is among those who has experienced the benefits of going online and knows that it can make a world of difference to the lives of artisans, especially women. Nishat's organization has been working since 1990 to skill and support women in areas affected by the Bhopal gas tragedy of 1984.

As the driving force behind Anuna, an NGO associated with Flipkart Samarth, she empowers marginalized women through online entrepreneurship. Anuna is a social impact driven business that is open to all independent sellers with unique handmade or natural products.

A part of the proceeds from Anuna's sales supports the training of artisans from economically backward classes. Under the Flipkart Samarth-Anuna partnership, about 120 women in Nishat's organization, skilled in crafts such as zari, zardozi, and macramé, have undergone training in the fundamentals of running an e-commerce business.

Nishat appreciates the multifold benefits of the Flipkart e-commerce platform for her community of artisans - most importantly, the continued preservation of their art, and the access to a pan-India market. "It will boost sales and improve the standard of life for women and their families," she says. "With the steady income they can now earn, many women, like me, will become financially independent and fulfill their dreams." Nishat appreciates the multifold benefits of the Flipkart platform for her community of artisans - most importantly, the continued preservation of their art, and the access to a pan-India market.

Empowering Women, one flight at a time
Name: Capt. Indraani Singh
Business: Indha Crafts
Location: Haryana

A renowned name in aviation, Capt. Indraani Singh is the first woman in Asia to fly the Airbus 320 and the world’s first woman commander on the wide-bodied Airbus 300. When she is not piloting flights, Capt. Indraani Singh is educating and empowering women and children in India’s underserved communities.

Capt. Indraani Singh founded Indha Crafts, a social enterprise that imparts vocational training in crafts for underserved women and markets the products they create. She is also the founder of Literacy India, which educates underprivileged children, youth and women, empowering them to become self-reliant.

Recently Indha Crafts joined hands with Flipkart Samarth to help women artisans sell their products online and expand their customer base to over 200 million. The partnership has positively impacted lives in these communities, says Capt. Indraani. Her drive has led to men also understanding the economic benefits of women channeling their talents. Capt. Indraani understood the need for a platform to monetize this talent and create sustainable incomes.

“With Flipkart, we feel cared for. Other than helping us sell, they help us with promotions. They tell us how to list trending products and introduce variety in our listings. This helps us in marketing and in turn, helps the artisans. Flipkart also has been instrumental in our B2B sales. Many sellers have contacted us to grow their business,” says Capt. Indraani.

Ever since Indha Crafts partnered with Flipkart Samarth, the organization has seen tremendous increase in sales. Moreover, the brand has witnessed a positive impact on the lives that they are trying to uplift. Capt. Indraani Singh with Indha Crafts and Literacy India is changing the narrative for the women she’s working with.

When she began journey, she faced questions about the efficacy of the initiative: How would artisans earn money with these skills? How would it be beneficial? How is this additional income going to change their lives? Today, these women have written a new chapter in their lives, from contributing to their household income to helping their community’s healthcare, education, and independence. They are flying in more ways than one.

Defying odds, embracing entrepreneurship
Name: Komal Prasad Paul
Business: Ultimate Hygiene
Location: West Bengal

In December 2017, 33-year-old medical representative Komal Prasad Paul was grievously injured after a collision with a truck in Barasat, a suburb of Kolkata. He was rushed to the ICU only after several hours but by then the damage was done: his right arm had to be amputated. This deep personal tragedy came as a turning point in Komal Prasad’s life:

How would he provide for his family given his physical impairment?

While painting and sketching uplifted his mind after a phase of depression during his month-long hospitalization, the burden of earning for his family weighed heavily on him. So, undeterred by his handicap, Komal Prasad went back to work upon discharge. But the feisty microbiology graduate who had been great at his job realised he could not keep up with the demands of the job. He thus started exploring ways to earn for his parents and his sister, who were extremely disheartened at the unfortunate turn of events. Komal turned to entrepreneurship.

He tapped into his contacts and started selling products for new mothers and babies, such as nebulizers and breast pumps. Business started slow but an undeterred Komal had his mind set on success. After reference and research, Komal registered on the Flipkart Seller Hub in May 2019 and within a few days, a member from Flipkart’s team on-boarded him and took care of all his documentation. Thus began his new life.

Komal sells personal care products on Flipkart under the Flipkart Samarth program which offers e-commerce opportunities to underserved entrepreneurs and artisans in India. On his debut as a seller on Flipkart, he made a single sale on his first day. Today, he sells over 50 products a day. His enduring effort and never-give-up attitude have helped Komal register over 100% growth in sales, which has allowed him to hire one employee to help him with packaging. The source of Komal’s motivation lies with his parents and God. And, he is certain that with Flipkart, he is on the right path, one that will lead to success.

Weaving stories, creating opportunities
Name: Chitrangan Pal
Business: Odisha Handloom
Location: Odisha

There are sarees and there are sarees that tell stories transcending form and fashion. One such saree is Odisha’s Sambalpuri, which bears the imprints of the state’s famous tie-and-dye technique, wherein each saree goes through a journey of threads dyed, fabric woven, and made intricate with traditional motifs.

Look closely, and a Sambalpuri saree is a handmade harmony of geometric patterns and landscapes from Odisha’s religious architecture, which could take as many as three months to create. Like a precious heirloom, local weaver families cherish the painstaking technique that goes into making a Sambalpuri saree. “We are the only ones here in India making Ikat (a fabric dyeing technique). This has been our work and tradition for over 100 years,” says Chitrangan Pal.

22-year-old Chitrangan is the founder of Odisha Handloom, a company representing over a thousand families, whose members draw livelihood from the warp and weft. But selling the Sambalpuri sarees, along with dress materials, stoles, dupattas, tables, and kitchen linen, was stuck in the old ways.

In 2019, Chitrangan became a Flipkart seller. “Flipkart helped us in listing over 200 of our sarees and helped us with visibility for our products nationwide.” It also opened up his perspective on selling, adding specialties like market trends and location-based selling. Soon, he tapped the strong vein of demand in India’s southern cities. Going online allowed Sambalpuri sarees to grow out of the shadow of heritage and local demand, and into fashion that was more mainstream.

“Before joining Flipkart, we were selling our products in our village or state, but now our products are available to customers across the country,” says Chitrangan. Working with Flipkart has also grown the weavers’ creativity. “Before Flipkart, we were traditional saree sellers for about 40 years. We worked with the same designs. Our profit margin was not great, and the designs remained old-fashioned,” he remembers.

As Chitrangan says, “Orders are rising, and our community is very happy with their work. Selling on Flipkart means more work and more opportunities for my people to earn their living with dignity.”

Disclaimer: This article is generated and published by the Insider Studios team. You can get in touch with them on insiderstudios@businessinsider.in