This Visakhapatnam-based firm uses technology to bridge the gap between artisans and buyers

A social commerce digital platform, Yes!poho has over 200 artisans and the social platform has over 1.50 lakh customers from North America, Europe, West Asia, Australia and South Africa.

The handloom and handicrafts industry, the second largest sector after agriculture in terms of providing employment, engages about 10-20 crore artisans.

According to industry estimates, the size of the sector is said to be anywhere between ₹15,000-25,000 crore. However, it falls under the category of informal sector for which there is no tangible data available.

In 2015, when Visakhapatnam-based Raghuram Kuchibhatla toured the remote pockets of South India, he realised the issues plaguing the handloom sector: poor wages, obsolete technology, poor infrastructure and a huge disconnect between artisans and today’s buyers.

It was to address this problem that Raghuram founded Yes!poho in 2017, along with Meenakshi Dubey, to directly connect weavers with buyers, leveraging on technology.

A social commerce digital platform, Yes!poho’s primary objective is to improve the livelihood and socio-economic conditions of artisans by facilitating engagement between customers and artisans through the use of technology.

“The only way to improve livelihood is by working at the grassroots level. Yes!poho’s partner relationship team spends months living in the artisans’ villages in providing training and bringing artisans onboard, says Raghuram.

He adds, “We also provide analytics on customer’s changing taste and preferences so that they can cater to the current demand.”

Technology first

Once artisans are onboard, Yes!poho ensures that inventory is managed, orders are catered to in a timely manner and payments are processed.

When an order is received, the weavers are notified through operational hubs located close to their villages. Once the saree is ready, an agent is sent to inspect the product before it is shipped. “On Yes!poho platform, the buyers also have the option of virtually trying on the saree and sharing the experience through our social network, thereby transforming the physical shopping experience online,” says Raghuram.

Yes!Poho offers its technology platform for all artisans to display their products and name their own price; engage with customers directly. As part of product training, the startup’s partner relationship team helps installs the app and train the artisans on how to use the app. Elaborating on the way technology is integrated in the functioning of Yes!poho, Raghuram says: “We work with built-in patented technology tools such as TryMe – which is a virtual tryout for customers to try and share products; CreateMyDesign- a way for customers to create their products based on their taste and preference; Chat with Weaver- that creates direct engagement between like-minded people and artisan community. Our platform is a language sensitive-based easy to use app for artisans to upload and manage their digital inventory, track and process orders, manage and view payments and notifications.”

The startup began its journey with the handloom clusters of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh and expanded across the Northeast, North, West and Northwest of India. Currently, Yes!poho has over 200 artisans and the social platform has over 1.50 lakh customers from North America, Europe, West Asia, Australia and South Africa.

Since inception Yes!poho has been growing over 80% year on year. “Our plan is to have 2,500 artisans by the end of 2021. In the next two to three years, we plan to expand into other verticals and venture into North America, Europe, and African markets. In addition, our plan is to build an experience centre providing customers the ability to not only create their own products but also have it readily available instantaneously,” adds Raghuram.

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