It all started during a trip to Gadchiroli, a violence-affected area in Maharashtra a few years ago. Kiran Patil, an IIT Powai student at the time, was in the area for an entrepreneurship project and while mixing with the youth there, thought of doing something useful and helping them create and market their own products. That's how Villcart came about.
“We see authentic rural and tribal handicrafts that are inexpensive. These handicrafts are created by rural artisans, some of whom are from violence-affected regions. They are either indigenous to the area or are a traditional craft or are environment-friendly or create social consciousness," says Kiran Patil, founder of Villcart. The first outlet that opened in Powai stores 900 products while the website offers 180 products from states like Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Kerala, Karnataka, Assam, West Bengal, Bihar and Pondicherry.
To identify artisans, Villcart employs scouts who head to various areas to identify the talent on offer. They've also identified manufacturers and NGOs who can aid them in this process. “The artisans quote their price. We don't argue with them. We give them what they want and fix our nominal margin over and above it,” says Patil, adding that they often reduce their own margins to ensure that customers return again.
While items bought online have a complete refund and exchange policy, items bought at the store can be exchanged within seven days. One can even buy gift certificates at the store in the denominations of Rs 500, Rs 1,000 and Rs 2,000.Next, there are plans to open more stores in Mumbai and other cities in Indua. They will also put up details of artisans who have created the products and start home delivery around India.
For more info or to buy the products, log on to www.villcart.com