DharaviMarket.com is a for profit initiative aimed at making the skills of the squatter settlement more accessible to the middle/upper classes while providing the local, skilled craftsmen and artisans direct access to local and global markets. It aims at providing, world class, quality goods at cheap prices as one would directly buy from the manufacturers while giving the craftsmen a price worth their craft and effort.
It also aims to clear notions and misunderstandings about life in slums; slum dwellers are not criminals or beggars, they too have robust enterprising skills and intimate community life.
In the long run we would like to use this platform to voice slum dwellers’ right to life, adequate housing and livelihood as it is under constant threat due to sophisticated redevelopment policies and mindsets of a few influential authorities/citizens/builders that look at land as mere real estate asset and slum dwellers as pollutants and cheap labour.
The illiterate but skilled, hardworking, enterprising residents of Dharavi haven’t exploited the potential of the worldwide web, we thought we could initiate this for them and so we went ahead and did it!
Support independent entrepreneurs by giving them a platform from where they can sell their goods across the world and earn money to improve their lifestyles. For this we have created a website which acts as retail space and a simple mobile application for uploading products which is easy for the craftsman to use.
The marketplace model makes sure that the individual artist puts the price he thinks he deserves while also ensuring that it would still be cheaper than most retail outlets.
Markets are conversations. We wish to create a direct dialogue between the middle/upper class citizens and people who reside in the slums. Informal and formal interactions will help us all learn from each other about our lifestyles, skills, culture, issues and tribulations which will gradually result in egalitarian solutions for Mumbai’s urban planning and social inequality problems.
We wish to make the local story global. We want to introduce each artist, his work and his lifestyle to the world, teach him about the needs of the changing consumer while giving the consumer the opportunity to develop personalized/custom products. Dharavi residents are already manufacturing for global MNCs but they don’t know about their clients because of several agents in between. We wish to provide as much direct access as possible.
We wish to collaborate with various individuals and organizations that will help us make the lives here better, which will support grassroot leaders/activists who at times feel the need for professional intervention. This will be in the fields of arts, craft and entertainment, education, health, basic services, hygiene and cleanliness, gender equality issues, fund raising, international trade, urban planning and infrastructure development.
We wish to let the world know how ‘slum dwellers’ contribute to India’s financial and social economy, show the model of business development which is homegrown and believes in restoring community and culture to commerce.
Megha Gupta is an urbanologist with a background in Journalism and Urban Planning. She has seven years of work experience and started her journey in the social development sector with a Bachelors Degree in MassMedia (Journalism) from Mumbai University in 2006. She worked as a journalist with Mid-day Multimedia Ltd where she had field experience of governance and infrastructure issues in Mumbai. She went on to study Town and Regional Planning from University of Sheffield (UK) and did her MA in the same. After coming back she worked with the best urban planning and research firms here including Architects and Planners P K Das and Associates, Remaking of Mumbai Federation, Urbz and Architect Hafeez Contractor which have all helped her train for this job.
DharaviMarket.com currently has a small set up with enthusiastic volunteers and locals who are working hard to make this venture successful.