Walmart Inc.-owned Flipkart on Wednesday launched a special initiative to help artisans, weavers, and handicrafts producers sell their wares on the e-commerce site.

Besides giving access to its 150-million strong customer base, the company said its initiative Samarth will provide dedicated support to artisans in onboarding, cataloguing, account management, and warehousing support. They will be charged a lower commission in some cases and will be given business insights.

Speaking at the launch, Nishant Gupta, head, marketplace business, seller marketing and support, Flipkart, said that through Samarth, the company will assist artisans who might lack the basic knowledge or understanding of selling products online.

“(They) don't know how to shoot the product, where to shoot the product, or how to list the product. This (initiative) is also about providing that know how. We will have on ground teams which will assist these guys,” he said. The company will also extend financial assistance in some cases.

The company said it will work closely with NGOs, government bodies and livelihood missions to reach a large number of rural entrepreneurs. It said it will focus especially on women-led enterprises and differently abled entrepreneurs who often face obstacles such as lack of access to working capital, poor infrastructure, and inadequate training. The ministry of textiles pegs the number of artisans in India at 6.8 million

“The initiative will help us partner with the government and add impetus to various social empowerment schemes. Flipkart Samarth will leverage increasing Internet penetration in rural India to boost entrepreneurship,” said Kalyan Krishnamurthy, CEO, Flipkart Group.

Minister of state for finance and corporate affairs Anurag Singh Thakur, who attended the launch, said: “Bringing our local sellers, helping them build their brand and guiding them through the supply chain process will go a long way in building a robust e-commerce ecosystem.”

Rival Amazon India also runs an initiative called Kala Haat, which is targeted at artisans. Both companies are striving to attract new customers while beefing up their seller numbers. Recently, Flipkart revamped its onboarding programme for first-time sellers and started providing credit facilities for merchants. U.S. website Etsy is another marketplace active in India which lists handmade and vintage products online, giving local artisans and sellers access to a global market.

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