Shop To Support: Mymela’s Online Store Sells Style While Saving Traditional Crafts Of India

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Innovative IMAF micro-advance business model benefits artisans & consumers.

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MyMela loans have freed us from the clutches of local money lenders,” says artisan Mohammad Ausuf of Ziya Handicrafts.

MyMela announces the launch of http://www.MyMela.com, a new online concept store that brings the traditional Mela, the Hindi word for “festival” or “country fair,” to the global marketplace. MyMela, co-founded by father-daughter team Navroze S. Mehta and Sonali Mehta-Rao, provides India’s artisans with a high-quality and sustainable e-commerce platform. MyMela is a vehicle to preserve the centuries-old traditions and businesses that are in decline due to poverty, high-interest loans, and competition from low-cost, mass-produced products from other countries.

MyMela’s high-quality product selection includes flat-weave dhurrie rugs, richly patterned hand-blocked tablecloths, hand-carved photo frames, sterling silver jewelry, embroidered handbags, and other home décor, fashion and accessory items. MyMela and its partner Asha Handicrafts, a Fair Trade Organization with a goal to protect the people and arts of India, are currently working with hundreds of artisans to build a global demand for these artisans’ goods, while telling their story and empowering them economically. To date, MyMela and Asha Handicrafts have supported hundreds of artisan groups.

Mohamad Talib of Talib Handicrafts says, “Regular orders from MyMela will provide year-round sustainability for me and my artisans.”

In addition to purchasing beautiful and authentic handmade Indian products, consumers can support the artisans’ craft and livelihood through MyMela’s unique IMAF (Integrated Micro Advance Funding) program. By combining fair trade and micro-lending principles, customers have the opportunity to fund as little as $25 of a total loan request that is uploaded to MyMela. One of MyMela’s field partners distributes the loan to the artisan for raw materials, training, and other capital improvements at a 0% interest rate.

After one month and over the course of the next three months, lenders obtain shopping credits equal to the loan amount plus 10%. These credits can be used to shop for other MyMela products or can be used to invest in another artisan group. In addition, MyMela plans to endow 20% of its profits to various health, education, training, and community improvement programs focused on the artisans they work with.

The mission of MyMela was inspired by childhood trips and volunteer experiences in the social sector of India by co-founder Sonali Mehta-Rao, who recognized that nothing other than pure coincidence separated her from the children living in Mumbai’s slums. Since graduating with her BA in International Relations from NYU, she made it her life’s mission to promote various forms of innovative business techniques that ultimately lead to a more equitable and sustainable world. Along with her father Navroze S. Mehta, a highly successful US businessman who spent his early years in India, they aim to raise global awareness for the socio-economic challenges that artisans of India face, while preserving the arts of the Indian culture.

"MyMela’s IMAF business model benefits every level of society, both globally and locally, by providing more opportunities for those who have been underserved by the current system," says Sonali Mehta-Rao.

For more information on MyMela products, artisans, or IMAF, please visit http://www.MyMela.com.

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