Weaving success, thread by meaningful thread
An alumna of the IIMB-GS 10K Women Programme, run by NSRCEL, Anjali Chandran recounts her journey from setting up an FB page for struggling weacing communities to representing India at global entrepreneurial meets
Impresa is an online clothing store that runs with a view to support handloom weavers all across India. In its early years, it may be seen more as an experiment in humanitarianism than a business. “We locate, across India, weaving colonies which had run into financial trouble and hire them to weave original clothes for display and sale under the brand Impresa through the venture’s Facebook page. We use social media to spread awareness about the need to support India’s weaving communities,” says Anjali Chandran, the founder, who has an Master’s degree from BITS Pilani and worked with Wipro, before choosing to launch her own enterprise.
By 2013, Impresa had a warehouse to stock goods and was already shipping products across the globe taking full advantage of the NRI market’s nascent fascination with handloom products. In 2016, Impresa devised its exclusive ecommerce platform namely Impresa.in. Subsequently, Impresa also opened an offline outlet at Calicut city.
Five years after its founding, Impresa (in 2017) was one among the best ten global start-ups that Capegemini, Paris, sought to recognize and endorse. Impresa was the only woman-founder start-up from India to have entered the ‘Innovators Race in Capegemini’.
Anjali says the idea of Impresa came to her during a visit to a weaving village during a career break. “When I learned, from the weavers, the difficulties in keeping their looms afloat, I started a Facebook page to sell their materials and named it Impresa. As it grew, I found myself fit to be an entrepreneur. Now, it’s beyond business. I seek to usher in a self-reliant society by serving the underserved.”
In 2018, Anjali was invited by the U.S. Department of States as an Indian delegate to participate in a multi-regional project ‘Women in Entrepreneurship’ with delegates from 53 other countries.
Describing her IIMB-NSRCEL experience, Anjali says: “As I dis not have a solid understanding of business practices, I used to struggle occasionally while encountering challenges. It was at that time NSRCEL has made a meaningful difference in my entrepreneurial journey. Starting from lessons to write a ‘P&L’ report, NSRCEL has motivated me to achieve objectives systematically. This has been highly beneficial to the growth of my start-up. I received help in the fields of marketing, networking and digital campaigns. During the pandemic, I was supported with new business ideas. After the mentoring sessions, I feel more confident to address challenges and also more competent to find their solutions. NSRCEL is undoubtedly one of the best support systems which acts as a catalyst for strategic growth of start-ups across India.”