India is the land of vibrant art and culture. The founder of Coshal Arts, Ankesh Banjare, noticed that a lot of artistic talents fade away because of our country’s conventional educational system. Many times, a student gives up on their passion because of the societal pressure put on them to lead a ‘typical’ life of a student that starts with completing a college degree in a field and then ends with them doing a 9-5 for an MNC. This is what the basic life is for every student out there once they have completed their graduation.
What we forget is that it is not possible to give out jobs to every student who is graduating from college due to a lack of opportunities and a high level of competition in every field. The alternative for this is to seek employment in areas like art and sports and several other fields. With a history of remarkable craftsmanship and rich culture of our country, Coshal Art wants to help these people monetize this gift of our culture. Industries like handicrafts and handlooms are very decentralized, making them less prosperous than they deserve to be. Creating opportunities is the first step for growth in any field. If we create these opportunities for the handicraft and handloom artisans, this can directly impact the youth, and industries’ growth can help in the creation of jobs in the field.
The journey before Coshal Art
As the conversation kept going on, Ankesh told TimesNext about his early life and his experiences over the years before he started Coshal Art. Born and brought up in Lawan, a village near Baloda Bazar, Chhattisgarh. Ankesh did his schooling from Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya Mana Camp in Raipur and completed his graduation from NIT Raipur in the field of Electronics and Tele Communication from 2013-2017. His knack for startups began during his graduation as he started working for a food delivery startup, which was started by his seniors in college.
The association with startups continued even after his graduation, where he worked for a startup that focused on Tourism and Art in Chhattisgarh. This startup didn’t work out for him so well, so he decided to go for a different field this time, and in 2018 he got selected for a fellowship program in School for Social Entrepreneur in India. This nine-month-long program taught him various aspects of business and how to tackle the challenges that are faced by a social entrepreneur.
Coshal Art and its efforts to revive Dhokra Art
Ankesh explains TimesNext the views and motto of Coshal Art and how his startup is aiming at the revival of an ancient ‘lost wax casting’ technique that is called Dhokra Art. The art requires bronze and copper-based alloys to make handicrafts and statues. The method goes back nearly 5000 years, and the designs included a range from divine goddesses and deities to tribal creatures, vases, and many other things. They help artisans earn returns on their crafts that they deserve while keeping the art form alive. Coshal works with startups based in the region of Bastar and Raigarh.
The first step by them is to look for the potential markets, and once they are identified, the artifacts are customized according to the need of the client, and then they are prepared by the artisans. Once the product is ready, some final touches are given by Coshal Art, and then they are delivered to the customers. After collecting the revenue, a portion of the profits goes to the artists, helping them to cover up the cost of necessities required to maximize their production for a stable livelihood.
The struggles before the success
Talking about the challenges, Ankesh told TimesNext that the biggest challenge faced by them was to gain the trust of the artisans. People often exploit these artisans by using their talents and not giving them the money they deserve. But they handled this pretty well as Coshal gave them orders and new designs to work on and slowly started gaining their trust. The second problem faced by them was the lack of finances, but it was resolved as they began to generate revenue.
Another challenge faced by them was that since the art form was the same and there a lot of artisans working for the same art, and the number of orders was limited, so it was challenging for them to give orders to each artisan.
The Kind Collaboration by Coshal Art
When asked about any collaboration of any sort, Ankesh told that they have decided to collaborate with a Self Help Group (SHG) of differently-abled women to make jewelry using Dhokra art. Currently, they are working with six women, and they wish to increase the workforce as they grow.
The first milestone for Ankesh Banjare
Over the years, Ankesh had done a lot of work, whether during his college days or with the startup, but for him, the first milestone was when he got selected for the School for Social Entrepreneur India program. This was a massive step for him as his startup idea got validated by a private institute for the first time. The program also helped him to understand the aspects of business and enabled him to upgrade his entrepreneurial skills.
Talking business with Ankesh
On asking about the companies current growth status, Ankesh was kind enough to tell us about them. The company started in April 2019 and got the incubation in Atal Incubation Center (AIC-36INC) in Raipur. In the past few months, the company has worked with 15 families from Bastar and Raigarh region. The company has received orders from various corporate offices, and they might get some external funding from investors soon.
The vision for Coshal Art
Ankesh explained that he is planning to modernize the traditional art form by planning to integrate them in daily use items to make them aesthetically appealing and make them stand out of the new age world. They are planning to introduce new innovative designs in Dhokra Art, increasing the variety of products for artisans to work. He wishes to make the company a platform where all the artists and artisans can learn and create more employment opportunities in the art field.