How Covid Affected Artisans

The pandemic hit all of us pretty hard and it hit us badly. It was worse for the people who fell at the bottom of the barrel. Some of them were artisans. There has been a huge change in the handicrafts industry in the past several years. 

Karigor aims to minimize the toll of the pandemic and other socioeconomic factors that affected artisans or people related to them. Many of them had to switch jobs, ending a traditional form of art and cultural production. Many stirred away to other interests because the reality is harder than it sounds. 

We try to explore, collect data and analyze what it means to have artisans in our human resource development, to nurture them as well as their craft, and the final products. 

Pre-Covid versus Post-Covid situation

Before Covid-19 hit on a global epidemic level, considering the time period up to 2019, there were more active artisans of handicrafts in Bangladesh, compared to the aftermath of Covid-19. 

Although the pandemic is still ongoing, it has to be considered that the major toll of the tragic global event has almost surpassed. Life is returning to a new normal as we collectively attempt to rediscover and recover from the internal and external effects of the pandemic. Within this time period, artisans and the handicrafts industry saw a serious loss, decline in production, and hence a decline in revenue, pushing a lot of people below the poverty line. 

The highly anticipated outcome is an example of how feeble the structure of the handicrafts market ecosystem is. 

On a bittersweet note, it also pointed out the flaws of our economic balance out in the open. Here is why we would rather like focus on finding the solution rather than the problems and obstacles and feign pity. 

Feigning sympathy will not help the people in need. We have already allowed insincerity and corrupt underbellies in the system to take advantage of them. They have been exploited over and over again. We refuse to avert our eyes from the exploitation, stand by the ones in need, and offer a kinder hand that they can trust. 

Fall of Artisans

The data is clear as day, even though they are estimations, the approximate value is bound to give you some ideas about the drastic change that can be seen in pre-Covid and post-Covid time periods. 

Up until 2019, 47% more artisans were active in the handicrafts industry, solely from their generationally inherited work infrastructure. The pandemic saw a loss of 47% of active artisans and there are so many of them that had a multitude of reasons why they left the production. 

The following chart aims to give you an idea of the reasons for the decrease in Artisans in Bangladesh: 

As you can see, there was a whopping 78% had to switch jobs in order to survive the pandemic and lack of work in the handicrafts industry. 

Approximately 11% of artisans moved abroad; 10% got married and chose to leave the handicrafts industry because they did not have enough support themselves, to support their new family, let alone build a life; the rest of the 2% of artisans declined due to various other reasons, some of which could have been resolved if they only received the proper and necessary incentives. 

Recovery and Rehabilitation

What we must prioritize is the recovery and rehabilitation of the artisan numbers we lost. The production will increase with time but we need adept and skilled artisans. We need well-trained and certified artisans who know their work. 

The aim is to uphold not only traditional products but also traditional values, in the form of art that they bring along with them. Because they uphold a part of our history as a nation and as a larger size of this vast community. The multifaceted and dimensional craft they have, it would be a complete shame if we were to let it die off. 

It is our responsibility to try and keep trying. Karigor wishes to focus solely on the development of the handicrafts market and the artisans. The infrastructural development and support that is long overdue, must be met immediately. Karigor only wants to be a part of their journey, and hopefully, a hub that will work completely in their favor. 

The multi-step expansion plans are already underway. Presently, recovery from the pandemic and rehabilitation (as well as recruitment) is what Karigor is focused on. Hopefully, the results will be better with time and it will work out for the best for everyone involved. 

The pandemic hit badly but the most toll it took on are the people who were most vulnerable in our society and community. It is our duty to uphold their lives and help ease the way for them so that they can start to thrive once again. Handicrafts are not just products with unique make and model, they are a carrier of our culture and so much history is attached to these crafts, it is something to treasure. 

People tend to forget that part of the craft and only stare bedazzled at the artsy part of it all. Karigor is here to declare that there’s so much more to it than pretentiously exploited mass production dynamic to it. We must value what must be valued the most in the handicrafts industry. 

Hopefully, the numbers will only increase for active artisans in the upcoming post-pandemic environment. A supportive and encouraging ecosystem can be put in motion, inter-industry support for handicrafts, and the rehabilitation of the artisans must be put on top priority. Karigor only wishes to be the much-needed spine for the entire vessel to be able to stand up and function. 

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