Crafting sustainable livelihoods

Crafting sustainable livelihoods

Craftizen has been strengthening the crafts ecosystem by bringing together multiple stakeholders to enable long-term livelihoods in a socially, culturally, economically and environmentally sustainable manner

Published on March 16, 2021 at 5:02 am

Updated on June 10, 2021 at 03:12 am

Flowers being recycled for making eco-friendly Holi colours.

Craftizen’s flagship ‘Patron’ programme aims to revive the concept of patronage under which the crafts sector once flourished. It is a comprehensive, multi-pronged model that endeavours to strengthen the crafts ecosystem by bringing together multiple stakeholders to enable long-term livelihoods in a socially, culturally, economically and environmentally sustainable manner. Over the years it has partnered with several corporates and foundations including Accenture India, Deloitte India, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd. (HPCL), United Way Hyderabad and Social Venture Partners (Hyderabad).

Since 2015, its ‘Patron’ programme has impacted over 3,000 beneficiaries across 20 livelihood centres in Bangalore, Hyderabad and Kolkata, skilled in over 20 different crafts ranging from hand-embroidery, fabric painting, tailoring, block-printing, grass jewellery, kantha stitch, as well as upcycling a range of discard materials.

Fabric leftovers being recycled to produce bags and corporate gifts.

Collaborative Model:
Craftizen partners with likeminded organisations (NGOs and public institutions) to implement its livelihood programmes and provide them end-to-end support including:

  • Capacity Building: skill training, design thinking and soft skills
  • Setting up group enterprises for sustained production
  • Technical and operational support: tools, equipment, systems and processes
  • Design development that focuses on enhancing the functional value of crafts
  • Market Creation: absorbing the risk of inventory by providing regular orders and guaranteed buyback


This unique initiative is Craftizen’s largest livelihood programme and provides sustainable and dignified employment opportunities to the underserved.

Target population:
Persons with intellectual disability (ID) and women from low-income families and disadvantaged backgrounds.

Operational geography:
Bangalore (urban and rural), Hyderabad

Scope and Impact:

  • 1,500 beneficiaries have completed skill training during the period 2016 – 21
  • This group includes 1,200 persons with intellectual disability with no prior access to income-earning opportunities
  • Onboarded 13 partner organisations including NGOs and public institutions
  • The programme has enabled therapeutic rehabilitation for persons with ID resulting in significant improvement in mental health, concentration levels, social skills and the ability to work with others
  • NIMHANS, Asia’s largest centre for mental health, national institute of eminence and a Green Skilling Partner, published a paper in the International Journal of Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Mental Health in May 2019 documenting the therapeutic and cognitive benefits of the Green Skilling programme in psychotherapeutic rehabilitation
  • Provided livelihoods and safe community work centres for women from vulnerable socio-economic backgrounds including victims of domestic violence
  • Environmental impact: To date, we have processed over 35,000 kgs of discard materials including:
    • Flowers from temples to produce Holi colours and Rangoli powders
    • Paper-dust (discard from paper mills) to produce medals and festive gifts
    • Fabric leftovers to produce bags and corporate gifts
    • Single-use household plastic to produce personal accessories
    • Silk thread discards (from power loom units) into Jewellery
  • The programme has led to income enhancement for 60% of the beneficiaries (rest are enrolled for therapeutic care), generating artisan earnings of over INR 75 lakhs to date
  • Craftizen has been handpicked as a skill training partner for Health and Family Welfare Services, Government of Karnataka, to support community mental health daycare centres (Manasadhara) across Karnataka

Diya painting.


  • 1,500 beneficiaries trained including 1,200 persons with ID
  • 500 persons with ID engaged for therapeutic rehabilitation
  • 35,000 kg discard upcycled
  • 13 livelihood centres
  • 14 craft skills
  • 150+ unique craft designs developed


  • Craftizen created a collaborative brand called “Petalists” to promote products developed under the Green Skilling programme.
  • ‘Petalists’ are persons with intellectual disability who recycle flowers and convert them into beautiful products

COVID-19 response:

  • For persons with ID who are in a high-risk category, Craftizen has provided dry ration kits since many of their parents lost their jobs; it has also enabled work from home opportunities and sustained bulk orders to keep them meaningfully engaged and continue earning
  • Many of its women artisans have become the sole breadwinners for their families in the past year and Craftizen has ensured there have been a steady stream of orders enabling many of them to double their monthly earnings

Mayura Balasubramanian, Founder & CEO, Craftizen Foundation.

“I see our role as craft architects, building bridges and plugging gaps to enable marginalised communities to earn dignified livelihoods. The crafts sector is the only industry that embraces persons irrespective of ability, of prior training or education to transform them into creative artisans capable of producing beautiful, one-of-a-kind products that are 100% made in India! At Craftizen, our artisans are also proud eco-warriors who embrace the philosophy that there is nothing called waste, everything is a resource that can be used/re-used,” says Mayura Balasubramanian, Founder & CEO, Craftizen Foundation.

Works on flowers, spreads happiness like a flower

Naresh (name changed) dropped out of school several years back due to financial constraints and his learning disabilities (Microcephaly with slight Mental Retardation). He started as a helper in animal husbandry but due to the unhygienic workplace, he developed a skin infection and had to relieve himself from the job. After being introduced to the Green Skilling Programme back in 2016, not only has he received a stable source of income but also a safe work environment and friends. He loves recycling flowers and making Holi colours and Rangoli powders. He is the only artisan who is allowed to operate the 3HP pulverizer to powder dried flower petals on his own and he takes this responsibility very seriously and with a lot of pride and joy.

His father is no more and his mother, who was working as a domestic helper before the pandemic outbreak, has lost her job. Naresh is able to support his mother thanks to the income he is earning from making unique and eco-friendly products. Naresh is the big brother of the group, always helping others. He always has a bright smile on his face and a keen interest in undertaking new tasks.

Operating a pulverized.

(Craftizen Foundation was founded in 2014 with a vision to preserve and evolve Indian craft skills so that they remain an integral part of our cultural fabric. We focus on sustainable craft-based livelihoods for persons with intellectual disability and women from underprivileged backgrounds.)



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