Rural India has long been eluded in the past from getting access to the long-term market-based knowledge and skills to unlock new business opportunities. However, with the burgeoning startup culture in India, various startups are stepping forward to bridge the digital divide that has been preventing rural entrepreneurs to discern new income opportunities driving the rural markets and economies. By leveraging technology, digital marketing and the approach of going local, social startups like HESA are bridging the divide by offering easy business marketing solutions to connect the rural value chain to the urban market.
Vamsi Udaygiri the founder of the social startup HESA Global is providing last-mile physical and digital connections to rural India. To date, the companies have shown interest in tapping the last mile but are yet to invest in deep doorstep customer access that is currently preventing them from penetrating deeper into this massive rural market.
According to a report by Bain & Company, India’s social commerce space is estimated to grow by $16-$20 Billion by 2025.
How is HESA bridging the divide?
HESA Global although founded in the year 2019 by Vamsi Udaygiri went alive with its app in 2020. HESA initially began as Rural Yellow Times offering jobs for rural India through its app. The startup aims to create a single destination for the rural marketplace for buying and selling products and services including financial transactions. By enabling technology, HESA acts as an integrated platform for the brands who are willing to buy, sell, promote and deliver their products, services including various banking and financial services in rural markets.
HESA also partners with rural entrepreneurs including farmers to sell their products in the urban market. HESA organises various rural promotions, BTL ( Below the Line) Campaigns and emerged as an independent event management startup organising events independently such as AgriHorti Tech, HealthPlus Asia, Back to Farming & Janatha Expo. HESA’s association in rural projects such as Dodla Dairy has allowed 60,000 dairy farms to strategize their supply and earn a profit is empowering the local milkmen, a means to earn a decent livelihood.
Right from building awareness of a rural entrepreneur or brand through promotions and event marketing to creating a local sales force, HESA ensures last-mile distribution and delivery.
Network of resident village- consultants – Hesaathis assisting rural entrepreneurs
HESA has its physical network of resident village consultants known by the name Hesaathis who are spread across the villages and can he/she can be contacted for any challenge or difficulty that a rural individual counter while buying, selling, and while managing customers. The ‘Hesaathis are well-equipped with digital know-how to enable buying and selling and resolving any hurdles faced by them.
To help farmers with the smooth functioning of the agricultural processes, the platform has features such as microfinance banking, insurance, FMCGs, money withdrawal, cash transfer, Agri inputs, purchasing Agri produce, microloan repayments, etc. Currently, HESA has a customer base of more than 7.5 lakh rural customers in the states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh with more than 5000 Hesaathis.
What is in it for social commerce startups?
According to a report by Bain & Company, India’s social commerce space is estimated to grow by $16-$20 Billion by 2025. The impact of Covid-19 in India has created impediments in the growth of SME businesses that have created severe poverty and unemployment. In such trying times, such social commerce startups that offer support to the rural entrepreneurs will create avenues for livelihood, creating more rural jobs to tackle the covid impact.