ToeHold Artisans Collaborative: Building Entrepreneurial Capabilities to Tackle Poverty
S. Ramakrishna Velamuri
Toehold Artisans Collaborative (TAC) is a project launched by the Asian Center for Entrepreneurship Initiatives (ASCENT), a non-profit organization based in Bangalore, to build entrepreneurial capacity in a community of footwear artisans of the small southern Indian town of Athani. Prior to ASCENT's involvement, which began in 1998, the artisans of Athani were making a subsistence wage, which did not even guarantee them two square meals a day. They could not send their children to school and were thus suffering from economic stagnation.TAC is an established Group Enterprise of 14 women Self Help Groups (SHG). Even though women's SHGs are the direct stakeholders, the men are not left out â they are treated as co-preneurs for all inputs, exposure to international fairs and production purposes. The front end of TAC is a customer-centric business enterprise that has taken the exquisite footwear brand 'ToeHoldâ¢' to challenging international mainstream markets. The backend is an artisan-centric social enterprise striving for improvement in the quality of life of about 400 artisans' families. The case documents how TAC was set up and evolved during the 1998â2006 period, the challenges it faced and continues to face, and the impact it has had on the artisan community. It is useful for examining the effective organization and running of social enterprises.
Social enterprise, entrepreneur, footwear, artisan
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