Artisan Coops

The artisan cooperatives are the center of the MarketPlace model of development. In a cooperative environment, each artisan is nurtured in their pursuit of both economic stability and personal fulfillment, in a climate of mutual support and acceptance. Artisans are involved in all facets of their businesses, from acquiring new skills, (including mastering various stitches, managing inventory and keeping records) to handling financial matters and participating in decisions that shape the cooperative's future.

Artisans also have opportunities to progress into more responsible roles within their cooperatives. In some instances, managerial positions are shared, thereby increasing the number of women who can develop their managerial and leadership skills.

Monthly meetings are a regular occurrence, during which artisan members convene to discuss critical operational aspects such as quality control, delivery schedules, and production planning. Any issues or challenges are collectively addressed within the group.

The importance of supportive relationships is evident, both within each cooperative and between different cooperatives. These relationships are pivotal for artisans as they navigate the changes and uncertainties that life presents.


  • Meaning of name: Aakasa means "Sky" and the founding members explained it represented their intent: "Through our work and our group, we should aim to reach the sky."
  • Established: 2023. The group performed a puja ceremony and officially inaugurated the cooperative on July 10.
  • Location: DaSilva Naga, semi-rural area north of Mumbai
  • Membership: 10, with 3 tailors and 7 embroidery artisans

  • After SMM was established, other women in the area approached the cooperative looking for work. The number of women wanting to join well exceeded the number which could be accommodated in the existing group. To answer the need, a new group began to take shape around a core of 10. Some of the new group's members have some tie to SMM as former members or some family ties. 6 of the 10 women are working outside the home for the first time and experiencing what it means to be an independent woman earning her own money.


  • Meaning of name: Aashiyana means "Home"
  • Established: Aashiyana started as a cooperative in March, 2000
  • Location: Tardeo in central Mumbai, a volatile mixed Hindu and Muslim community
  • Membership: 17 members with 6 tailors and 11 embroidery artisans

  • The members must deal with possible clashes between cultures, both in their group and in their community. They have open discussions about religious biases and are committed to working in harmony. In the past they have struggled with retaining members and recruiting new artisans because many women in their community have rules restricting travel and working outside the home. Aside from finding ways to accommodate different cultures, the artisans focus on upgrading their sewing skills and increasing the size of their orders, contributing to the group's success.


  • Meaning of name: Arpan is a Sanskrit word for "Offering" or "Gift for the Gods"
  • Established: 1999
  • Location: Thane, a city immediately north of Mumbai city proper
  • Membership: 21, with 8 tailors and 13 embroidery artisans

  • Thane is a city with industrial and factory jobs, but very little to offer women. During its long history, Arpan has had internal struggles among members, but they have always managed to find resolutions. Even a few years ago a few of the older women left the group and demanded a large financial share. Again, the artisans stood together and did not allow their work to be compromised. When it comes to their work and the production of garments, they are a united force, setting aside conflicts to accomplish their goals. Today they have one of the highest production rates.


  • Meaning of name: Ekta means "Unity" while Mahila refers to women and Mandal is house or workshop.
  • Established: Ekta started forming in 2017 and registered as a 7 member cooperative in 2018
  • Location: It is situated in Thane, immediately north of Mumbai proper
  • Membership: 7, with 2 tailors and 5 embroidery artisans

  • The women who formed Ekta were desperate for work and very enthusiastic about owning their own enterprise which would provide stable work in their area. A relatively small and new group, Ekta works closely with Arpan, which is also located in Thane. The more experienced group oversees some of the management tasks such as financial record keeping, which helps Ekta function as a viable business. When Ekta faced a management crisis, Arpan was again able to offer assistance as Ekta worked to rebuild. The members, many of them young mothers, appreciate the chance to learn and grow and support themselves and their children.


  • Meaning of name: Ghar Udyog means "Home Based Industry"
  • Established: Originally organized in 1995 by P. Ziauddin in Santa Cruz, later he relocated to Uttan and started a new group in 2008 with women from that area
  • Location: Uttan, about 20 km outside Mumbai
  • Membership: 26, with 10 tailors and 15 embroidery artisans

  • Ghar Udyog was originally formed to make patchwork products for a local buyer. After its relocation to Uttan it began working with MarketPlace. The group is steadily gaining experience in making the more complicated garments as well as knit clothing, which uses special equipment and techniques.


  • Meaning of name: Nirmaan means "To Create"
  • Established: Nirmaan grew out of Ghar Udyog in 2007 when the former group was relocated with new members. The former Ghar Udyog artisans who did not want to move formed the hub of a new group of their own
  • Location: Santa Cruz in Mumbai
  • Membership: 41, with 13 tailors and 28 embroidery artisans

  • Nirmaan's membership is large and diverse, comprising women of different ages, religion and temperament. Nirmaan has machines to sew both woven and knit garments.


  • Meaning of name: Pragati means "Progress"
  • Established: Pragati defied the odds and started in 2021 during the COVID pandemic and shutdown restrictions
  • Location: A semi-rural community in Nallasopara, 25 km outside Mumbai
  • Membership: 15, with 4 tailors and 11 embroidery artisans

  • Pragati Cooperative was organized during the COVID pandemic despite shutdowns and restrictions. Starting a new cooperative is always a challenging process as women with virtually no experience and little education are tasked with learning to run a business. In this case it was particularly difficult but also critically needed. Many people lost their jobs due to the pandemic, yet it was hard to get the word out to start forming a cooperative. But Pragati did come together relatively quickly, and the small group of strangers wasted no time in forming a unified group, dedicated to learning all the business and production skills necessary. Their progress has been remarkable. They are seriously committed to their work and improving their skills. In addition the women have embraced the social programs that are an important tool for establishing a better future for themselves and their children.


  • Meaning of name: Their name translates to Forest of Flowers Women's Cooperative
  • Established: 2014
  • Location: Amidst flower fields
  • Membership: 14, 5 tailors and 9 embroidery artisans

  • RMM was begun as part of an effort to extend the opportunity for decent employment to more remote and needy areas outside of Mumbai city. Some of these women were earning a pittance collecting wildflowers and selling them, while others worked seasonally in the hot flower fields. MarketPlace assisted the women in registering and setting up the group and helps to train the new artisans in the basics of sewing in tailoring. Organizing and communication here present special challenges as there is no public transportation and the homes are situated far apart. Yet these motivated artisans found ways to cope improve. It is impressive that 8 of the 9 original members continue as part of the group. They have shown positive growth in both profits and artisans employed. Since they have begun doing well financially, they have instituted a group saving plan for all members.


  • Meaning of name: Shramik means "Hard Work" combined with Women's Workplace Cooperative
  • Established: 2015
  • Location: DaSilva Nagar, Nallasopara, a semi-rural are north of Mumbai
  • Membership: 15, with 6 tailors and 9 embroidery artisans

  • This group began with 10 women who live in an area with little public transportation and poor employment opportunities. SMM is a way for these highly motivated women to work and earn while taking care of their children. The group has seen tremendous growth, both personal and professionally. Their hard work and dedication has resulted in an impressive record of on-time deliveries and allowed them to double their production.


  • Meaning of name: Utsaah means Enthusiasm! It implies a great eagerness to do something.
  • Established: 2022
  • Location: Santa Cruz, Mumbai, close to the MarketPlace office
  • Membership: 22, with 3 tailors and 17 embroidery artisans

  • Utsaah's origin was unique as it developed from a previous group. Some of the women artisans had been associated with MarketPlace for over 24 years; 16 of the current members were part of a former group called Sahara which dated back to the early days of MarketPlace. Having so many experienced artisans gave Utsaah an advantage. Because Sahara had been organized differently, there was some initial hesitation about having to learn how to form their own cooperative. But they then got off to a fast start. They were able to execute larger orders, which resulted in good earnings right away. Now that they are running their own business and learning new skills, all the women are set up for more success and independence.


  • Meaning of name: WARE stands for Women Artisans' Rehabilitation Enterprise
  • Established: 1995
  • Location: Santa Cruz, Mumbai, close to the MarketPlace office
  • Membership: 25, with 6 tailors and 19 embroidery artisans

  • Longtime SHARE employee Joseph Jacinto started WARE from his home. He was later able to move into a rented space and eventually purchased a workshop using his own savings and a loan from MarketPlace. The artisans are involved not only in production, but in all aspects of operating the business.