The Agency for Promotion of Indigenous Craft is the lead agency for the implementation of the Output 3 of this project. This Output of the project focuses on supporting the textile handicraft sector in Bhutan for the development of high value, low volume niche collections, with special focus on branding and establishing market linkages which will contribute to stimulating production and trade along the textile value chain and increase incomes of beneficiary stakeholders. The activities under this output further aim to contribute to the “Brand Bhutan” initiative and to create a positive, unique and appealing image of Bhutan handmade textiles.
The implementation of the project started in May 2018 with an inception phase. Based on the Value Chain Analysis and stakeholders mapping, 22 Direct Beneficiaries were selected for their export potential, network with artisans and communities along the value chain. The 22 Direct Beneficiaries includes Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), design boutiques, and textile entrepreneurs across the country. The CSOs who are directly involved are Tarayana Foundation, Royal Textile Academy of Bhutan, SABAH Bhutan, Respect Educate Nurture and Empower Women (RENEW), the Handicraft Association of Bhutan (HAB), and National Handloom Development Center (NHDC). The selected Direct Beneficiaries have been receiving continuous training and coaching, and introduced to potential buyers, through trade shows and B2B events.
The ultimate objective of the project is to increase incomes along the value chain in order to contribute to economic growth and poverty reduction. Horticulture and textile handicraft were selected by project stakeholders according to their potential for value addition, market demand and impact on women and youth’s livelihoods
The first year of project implementation focused on the analysis of the textile handicraft value chain and target export markets, as well as the identification and training of exporters on product design and development. This was followed in the second and third years by the development of branding and marketing materials through coaching, on-the-job training and following a market-led approach, dealing directly with buyers during trade shows and marketing events.
Under the scope of this project, two collections have been developed;
- A collective collection called “Bhutan Textiles”, was developed collectively with all project beneficiaries, targeting the Maison&Objet biannual trade show in Paris. A collective collection was developed representing all project beneficiaries as part of the Bhutan textiles collective
- A capsule collection called the “HINGTHAM”, home textile collection (HINGTHAM meaning ‘Heart Weaving’), was developed exclusively with local raw materials, to safeguard the local inputs and natural dyeing traditions and related jobs along the production value
The product line consists of throws, rugs, cushion covers, futon mats, place mats, table runner, pouch, tote bags and shawls, designed for the international market, according to their taste and preference. A first successful trade fair participation in France was organized for project beneficiaries in January 2020. This allowed initiating new business linkages with buyers, generating genuine interest and concrete orders, with more than 28 buyers having placed orders. Following the global pandemic, as a last resort, the ‘Bhutan Textiles’ participated the Maison&Objet trade show in virtual mode in September 2020, and January 2021.
The Bhutanese textile products were positively received in the international market with exported products valued over Nu. 7.8 million, to 44 clients from 10 countries, namely; France, Belgium, Germany, UK, New Zealand, Japan, US, Spain, Italy, and Switzerland.