The Creative, Cultural, and Creative (3C) sector in India has the potential to transform the lives of millions and become a sunrise industry for the country. It can create livelihoods that not only provide supplemental income but also respect and dignity; that do not require migration from villages into cities and avoids all the human misery that comes with migration. It can empower women in their own communities. Moreover, it can serve as a means to conserve our culture, traditional skills, and knowledge while creating products that are both environmentally friendly and socially responsible.
The 3C sector encompasses a wide range of artisan-led enterprisesin art, fashion, home décor, and wellness areas. We have over 3000 forms of craft skills and traditions handed down over generations; adiversity of products, skills, and capabilities which no other country in the world comes close. With this unparalleled competitive advantage and a growing domestic as well as global demand for products, the 3C sector can contribute significantly to India’s inclusive growth.
Over the past few centuries, the craft and handmade industry in India has faced significant challenges. Cheaper machine-made goods, the rise of power looms, and a shift in consumer preferences towards Western products led to a decline in demand for traditional Indian handicrafts. The market demand shrunk, and the authenticity of craft products diminished as synthetic materials and copy prints became more prevalent.
Furthermore, several tailwinds are propelling the sector forward. Evolving consumer preferences, especially among millennials, favour purposeful and sustainable products. B2B and B2C e-commerce platforms provide affordable access to global markets. Technology adoption can improve supply chain efficiencies and authenticate artisanal work. The Indian diaspora represents a growing market that seeks to reconnect with their culture. These factors create a very favourable environmentfor reimagining the 3C sector.
To realise the opportunity, the 3C sector requires three key enablers: capital, mentorship, and role models. Risk capital is necessary to innovate, enter global markets, and scale rapidly. Mentorship programs can accelerate the learning curve for new entrepreneurs. Role models inspire and attract capital and talent. Together thesebuilding blocks can create a virtuous cycle that can lead to exponential growth that enables the creation of millions of non-farm livelihoods.
To draw a parallel with the IT industry, Indian engineering talent at low cost provides a global competitive edge. The skills, traditional knowledge and the cost of artisanal work does the same for the 3C sector. The growth of the IT industry accelerated in the 90’s with the advent of venture capital and success of a few companies which became inspirational role models. Today the Tech industry has a vibrant eco-system of venture capital ranging from angel investors, start-up funds, growth funds and PE funds. There is a huge support system of incubators, accelerators, and mentors. The preferred choice for any young engineer or management professional is to be a tech entrepreneur. And this entrepreneurial energy is creating jobs, wealth, and soft power for the country.
The 3C sector requires to emulate the tech industry and become a mainstream sector in Start-up India Initiatives. The good news is that progress is already underway. Angel investors and venture funds are beginning to invest in the artisanal and handmade sector. Leading management institutes are starting education programs and offering incubation services. Policy makers are realising that entrepreneurs need to be the fulcrum for support. All these initiatives can gain momentum and a supportive eco system can be built in the next few years. The 3C sector will then lead a revolution that not only leads to inclusive growth, but also the projection of our cultural soft power on the global stage.
About 3C Sector
The 3C sector, often considered a “sunset” industry, can be transformed into a “sunrise” sectorby supporting and funding entrepreneurs to invest in product design, technology and marketing. The market data suggests that it is a large and growing market. The addressable market which includes handmade crafts, interior décor, fashion, art jewellery, and visual arts, is currently valued at $120 billion and expected to reach $346 billion by 2030. India’s share of the global trade in handicrafts of $ 680 billion is only 1.6%. Thus, there is lots of headroom for growth both in India and internationally.