Ahmedabad: India's premier design school, the National Institute of Design (NID) will soon undertake a project of training and empowering rural African craftswomen through design intervention in basketry-making (BM).

"To begin with, by February end we shall send a team of designers from here to Zimbabwe to conduct a need assessment study. They shall find out the kind of eco-system, in which, the artisans are working there and what's the local market for it," NID Director Pradyumna Vyas told.

The NID team visiting Zimbabwe will identify 25 craftswomen there, who would later be trained in India here, in collaboration with the New Basket Workshop Foundation, an African NGO.

"The programme to be conducted here for the craftswomen from Zimbabwe shall be a trainers' training programme," Vyas said adding that they are expected to come here by this year end.

This one million USD project, to be launched with the aid from the Union Ministry of Industry and Commerce, aims at empowering women through skill enhancement and appropriate marketing through leading Indian brands like Fabindia.

The initiative will cover five African countries at a cost of USD one million over the next three years.

"Design intervention in basketry craft for empowerment of women artisans from rural Africa will be undertaken through NID's outreach department, first in Zimbabwe, then Tanzania, Malawi, Ethiopia and Uganda," Vyas said.

According to officials, NID's outreach programmes help bring the institute's experience and training facilities to services of those outside its regular education and client service activities.

These programmes help build a network of design collaboration toward economic and social priorities, between the institute and organisation, groups and individuals all over India and overseas.

The International Center for Indian Crafts established at NID with the support of office of Development Commissioner of Handicrafts has been initiating development activities for the craft sector.

The bilateral trade between India and Africa currently stands at USD 128 million, as per official estimates. An initiative like this is expected to further strengthen the ties between the two nations.

Union Minister for Commerce and Industries Anand Sharma had recently made an announcement to this affect as part of the India-Africa Forum Summit Action Plan.