“I would say that if the village perishes, India will perish too. India will no longer remain India. Its own mission in the world will get misplaced. The revival of the villages in the country is only possible, when it is no longer exploited.”
- Mahatma Gandhi (Harijan, 29.08.1936)
In this day and age (21st Century), the words of Gandhiji still hold a surreal amount of significance. In this rapidly changing world fueled by globalization and digital transformation taking place in the life of every citizen in India, what matters the most is the facilitation of services with ease of availability. Real India resides in Tire-II and beyond where particular products or services are not procured on time. Sometimes, it never reaches the desired destination. This particularly is a problem known as disconnect between urban brands & rural market. Though, there has been a subtle growth in the infrastructural amenities of rural India, it still hasn’t proved to be a proper solution for the lack of facilitation of qualitative goods and services. There is a requirement for an efficient catalyst for inclusive growth to bridge the existing urban-rural divide with a commercially viable solution. That’s where Gram-Haat® comes into the picture.
Gram-Haat® is a widespread rural retail outlet serving five hundred million Indians through more than fifty most valued brands and start-ups. These brands are from different sectors like Agriculture, Finance, Household, and Personal care. In brief, it is connecting urban brands with rural consumers and businesses. Gram-Haat®, the eRMPL Technologies LLP Rural Retail initiative is addressing the (4A) challenges of the rural segment of India. These challenges are Awareness, Acceptance, Affordability, and Availability.
Gram-Haat®’s Assets Light Technology-based bricks and mortar setup operates in Tire-2 towns and beyond serving a rural market for their daily needs of Products, Services, and Consultancy offerings. Gram-Haat® serves approx. 40 million of the Indian population today with more than 14000 PoS/IT equipped outlets all over the Western India. Now the company is aiming to reach 150 million of the customer bases from 45000+ outlets by 2021 across India.
The company has been working with the principle to fuel the entrepreneurial spirit amongst the youth in the rural areas of India. Gram-Haat® presents the rural youth with an opportunity of self-employment who have the minimum educational qualification (10th Pass), basic knowledge of IT, and an inclination towards business and entrepreneurship. “We not only provide them with an earning opportunity but also increase their capability to serve rural citizens in various modes,” says the team of Gram-Haat®.
This rural empowerer is connecting urban brands to the rural areas of the country at the most affordable cost along with out-reach and logistics. All of this in order to create an actual social and economic impact on the life of the people where the real India resides. “We take an opportunity to share credits with our mentor Mr. Amit Varma (Ex. President RIL) who taught us Out-reach,” shares the team of Gram-Haat®.
The Inception Story
It all started when Mr. Sanket Jasmin Desai, the Designated Director of Gram-Haat® was working for a corporate firm during 2004-14. He travelled to more than 15000 Tire II and III towns and villages for research & analysis, set-up of Fuel outlets and digitalization of Govt set-ups. He realized that even with the growth of infrastructure and digital connectivity, people for their various needs are still traveling 25-35 km or paying a premium price for commodities with compromising its assured quality from various urban brands. There was a need for a two-sided value proportionate solution for this situation. That’s how Gram-Haat® emerged as the bridge to rural demands and urban brands’ offerings as the most viable solution. Aim was to cater the need. It took almost two years for the pilot to create company-operated franchise models (CoFos) in Western India alone.
The firm was founded with the help of friends & ex-colleagues from Rural and Retail Industry. It has Advisory Board members from Agronomy, Insurance, Banking, Telecom, e-Market Space, Education, e-Governance, and Hospitality verticals to empower Gram-Haat®’s initiative. In a brief comment, the experts disclose, “All of us have a high level of synergy to build the best solutions for rural India.”“Together we continue to effectively innovate, operate and market Gram-Haat®,” adds Mr. Sanket. This initiative is operationally supported by sister companies like SdMC and Kanan Solutions and functionally by the parent company, eRMPL Group.
Industry Dynamics and Recognitions
There are two large infrastructural setups in the rural areas of the country namely, India-Post and Panchayat Office. For any Start-up, scale the biggest challenge; team who counts number it was foremost task to touch large set of beneficiaries. To make the asset-light model resonate with public engagement, eRMPL is operating Gram-Haat® from every single Gram panchayat building/office I the state of Gujarat on margin sharing basis. “We call it Rurban movement with business model CoFo which enables the urban brands to have a tie-up with the company in order to promote, market, and sell their products/services/consultation in the rural trade space of India,” shares Mr. Sanket.
Gram-Haat® operators are continuously trained on digital services, product marketing and sales roles by associated business partners and trainers. IT equipped with connectivity outlet serves online as well as pre-sales activities are done through events and promotions at the village level. The organization contributes approx. 42% of digital transactions for Gujarat from various Financial Inclusion initiatives such as AePS Payments, Money Remittance, Bharat Bill Pay, Recharges, Mutual Funds, Insurance, etc. Wide range of products offered from Tractor to Non-Electricy Water purifiers, etc. The company’s single largest platform where at no cost, any brand or start-up can reach more than 40 million beneficiaries and create own market space through Gram-Haat®. “We look forward to the association with Corporates, Semi-Government Organisation and NGOs,” states Mr. Sanket. eRMPL is Rural Technology and Innovation continuum.
Gram-Haat® was awarded Grant & Recognition as the Top 20 Start-ups by CIIE and IIM-A at The Power of Idea. Also, Mr. Sanket got selected for the Fellowship program by the Royal Academy of Engineering, London for the said project. Continuing the march, eRMPL Technologies LLP inked MoU with State Government of Gujarat during Vibrant Gujarat Summit 2017 for rolling-out B2B, B2C, and G2C support services at 14000 Gram-Panchayats of the State. The company is recognized as a Start-up by DIPP – Govt of India, Committed to Empowered India.
A Vision Ahead
Gram-Haat® through its ‘Click and Sale’ model is helping the villagers follow the mantra of ‘Zero Investment, No Warehouse’ which has been proposed by the firm. Through this preposition, the company is enabling technology for the villagers in seamless manner. It is facilitating human touch and trained local residents for quick response service with Adhaar and UPI enabled digital transactions. The firm is providing various facilities through its junctures such as, viable and sustainable model for Gram-Panchayats and offering under principal agency code/authorization. The products and services offered under Gram-Haat®’s initiative include proper tie-up or agreement which helps to serve the customers in a better way. The organization does not follow the principle of ‘Sale and Forget,’ it intends to provide full support during the service period of the clients which properly aligns with Gram-Haat®’s exclusive product team’s efforts. There is a complete support mechanism available in terms of online and offline mode for customers as well as agents working with the firm.
The company is focused on to create more outlets that will reach people on a higher volume. It is also planning to increase more associations with Industry leaders having digital platforms to promote or sell products/services. Gram-Haat® is also on its way to create awareness and space in rural markets with the help of other institutes such as tele-medicine centers, data management firms, e-learning companies and NGOs.