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16-year old Anwisha Reddy’s social crusade to empowering local artisans wins her Diana Award 2022

Anwisha Reddy, aged 16, from Hyderabad has been recognised with the Diana Award, the highest accolade a young person can achieve for social action or humanitarian efforts.

Established in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, the award is given out by the charity of the same name and is supported by both her sons, the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex.

Anwisha, founder of ‘Incredible Art’, strives to bring about economic development in local artisan communities. Having identified a core problem among these communities – lack of market access – she was prompted to take action, building an e-commerce platform to bring the market to the artisans. Unfortunately, the pandemic made communicating with the remote artisans impossible, and the platform had to be shut down. Yet she persevered, and learning from this experience, initiated phase two of her project, creating a self-sustaining, teachable, replicable platform to be owned by the artisans themselves. Since then, she has taught her platform to five artisan communities and helped over 1,100 people.

“We warmly congratulate our new Diana Award recipients from the UK and across the world who are changemakers for their generation. It is especially poignant as we remember Princess Diana 25 years on. We know by receiving this honour they will inspire more young people to get involved in their communities and begin their own journey as active citizens,” said Tessy Ojo CBE, CEO, The Diana Award.

Empowering local artisans

On one of the trips to her hometown, Anwisha visited a local village known for their ancient handwoven- handloom laces. She was intrigued by the artistic intricacies that they had, however, was surprised looking at the economic condition of the village and the artisan community that had harnessed the art of weaving these artistic handloom laces.

On her way back, she pondered over the problem and identified that the biggest hurdle they faced was access to the right markets. Anwisha strives to uplift the local artisan communities with a blend of technological innovation, functional expertise, and business acumen.

In an attempt to save the dying art-form and improve the social and economic status of the village and the artisan community, Anwisha created an e-commerce marketplace for these communities by understanding and leveraging their socio-cultural strengths. Free of middlemen charges, was designed to connect these rural artisans to the global fashion industry.

Anwisha tactfully navigated her way through the frenetic shifts that came her way in enabling and building a social-led business. The pandemic made collaboration, and order fulfillment a nightmare. Unabashed, Anwisha persevered and decentralised the business operations by setting up a self-serve, easy-to-learn and use module that empowered each local artisan to be self-sufficient.

She engaged two tech-savvy, young girls to run the website and ensure a consistent social presence is maintained and products are marketed to improve the barrier of entry for the market and the artisans.

Today, she is looking to give this operation a glocal scale. She is leveraging her network to market this idea via word-of-mouth and is in talks with private equity investors and the Telangana Government to bring in government oversight and uplift the women who are the nexus of the economy.

She leveraged not just her word-of-mouth network but also encouraged everyone in her network to actively promote the initiative. She went on to bring up the subject in the United Nations at their New York HQ to promote and uplift ancient artisans and these dying art forms.

With all of these efforts, orders started pouring in and she was able to improve the earnings of the artisans by over 10X.

Since the inception of the project, Anwisha has been able to impact thousands of local artisans. With this model, she aspires to extend to other forms of ancient arts, helping artisans build a sustainable livelihood and break down their socio-economic barriers. She believes that true progress is never singular and is pioneering the evolution of this positive change. With her sights set on taking this pan-India, she is well on her way to revolutionising and building a thriving, successful community of ancient artisans who are being forgotten by the fast-moving world.

What the Diana Award entails

The charity fosters, develops and inspires positive change in the lives of young people through four key programmes which include; a mentoring programme for young people at risk, a youth-led anti-bullying ambassadors campaign, a collaborative Changemakers programme that aims to reimagine mental health support for young people from racialised communities and a prestigious award which publicly recognises young changemakers – The Diana Award.

Award recipients have been put forward by adults who know the young people in a professional capacity and recognised their efforts as a positive contribution to society. Through a rigorous nomination process, these nominators had to demonstrate the nominee’s impact in five key areas – Vision, Social Impact, Inspiring Others, Youth Leadership, and Service Journey.

There are 20 Diana Award Judging Panels representing each region or nation both in the UK and internationally. Panels consist of three judges who understand the value of young people, including one young person representative. The panels have an important purpose – to determine which nominations from each region or nation will receive a Diana Award.

Nominations are judged using the Criteria Guide and Scoring Guide which have been created to measure quality of youth social action.