Jaipur Rugs: A Remarkable Social Enterprise

NK Chaudhary

NK Chaudhary

The Jaipur Rugs story began in 1978 in a village called Churu in rural Rajasthan. After graduating from college, Mr Nand Kishore Chaudhary decided not to work with his father in his shoe business and instead took a loan of Rs.5,000/- to set up two looms in his backyard. He worked shoulder to shoulder with nine artisans, selling to exporters in Jaipur. From this humble beginning, JAIPUR has grown to over 40,000 artisans across 600 villages selling its branded high quality rugs in over 35 countries.

When you meet Mr Chaudhary you are immediately struck by his humbleness. Even more so when you begin to understand his remarkable vision and ability to implement it. Carpet weaving is an old craft in India and carpets have been exported for centuries. For all of that time weaving has been male centric and somewhat exploitative in nature. For Jaipur to adopt a social enterprise model that trains weavers and provides them with material, good design, mentoring and quality control systems with dedicated teams creating the market linkages is radical thinking. Best put by Mr Chaudhary himself, “Do not go where the path leads, go where there is no path and leave a trail.”

Nisha Learning Carpet Weaving

Nisha Learning Carpet Weaving

I read about Jaipur Rugs and was so taken by the passion and business model that I showed up at their office without so much as a business card! That was almost three years ago. I love the experimental nature of their designs. But most of all I love that they strive to provide good quality rugs at reasonable prices without squeezing the weaver. Instead they focus on cutting out middlemen, encouraging women to weave from their homes, push their own experienced weavers to take supervisory roles, and have created a hub and spoke model that allows mentoring, quality control and zero wastage.

At just over Rs.100 Crores ($16m), the company is growing rapidly and is making in roads into new markets such as South Africa, Russia, China and yes Turkey!

And I am not the only one taken with the model. The company is a case study in CK Prahalad’s book “The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid” and is the recipient of many awards including “Carpet Design Award – Domotex 2012”, “TOI – Social Impact Award 2012”, “Karmaveer Puraskaar 2012”, “Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2010”.

While we always carry a small selection of their rugs in Bangalore, the exhibition cum sale currently on (until 21 December) showcases the full variety of work they do and has something for everyone.

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