Catering to the aam aadmi

Hariyali Kisaan Bazaar

New-Delhi based DCM Shriram Consolidated’s (DSCL) Hariyali Kisaan Bazaar is a national rural retail chain. Launched in 2002, it currently operates 270 stores in eight states of the country and plans to add another 20 this year. The stores came up since farmers, who were already familiar with DSCL through its products such as hybrid seeds, fertilizers, sugar, farm solutions among others, were looking to buy good quality farm inputs at a reasonable price and in time for their seasonal needs. Apart from agricultural products, Hariyali Kisaan Bazaar also provides fast moving consumer goods, consumer durable products, financial services and fuel. The chain also provides an agronomy service helping farmers increase their productivity and profitability.

Its stores registered a turnover of Rs. 774 crore in fiscal 2010-11 against Rs. 630 crore in 2009-10, a growth rate of 23 per cent. “The biggest challenge in running a rural retail chain is that rural India is very vast and being amongst the first movers in this space, there is no proven knowledge we can follow,” says Rajesh Gupta, president, Hariyali Kisaan Bazaar.

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) manages all business applications and information technology infrastructure for Hariyali Kisaan Bazaar. Additionally, TCS is also responsible for new store rollouts and recommends transformational solutions like store solutions to increase per store profitability, private label management and shrinkage management.

USP: Hariyali Kisaan Bazaar provides multiple goods and services under the same umbrella and its current reach extends to rural areas in eight states across India.

PowerZone

Hyderabad-based Amar Raja Battery Limited’s (ARBL) PowerZone is a range of power solutions sold through its retail network in rural areas where power solutions – both for automotive and other needs – are in great demand. Currently present in taluks/tehsils and small towns, the company plans to expand to semi-urban areas in a phased manner.

Started in 2007, PowerZone caters to the rural market that is dominated by the unorganised sector. The leak proof and environment-friendly PowerZone batteries offer 18 months warranty and over 20 per cent enhanced power backup across passenger cars, tractors, heavy commercial vehicles and inverter batteries.

PowerZone stores also aim to provide a good shopping experience and competitive pricing, while providing standardised products. The dominance of the unorganised sector in these areas makes it critical for the company to make superior technology available at an affordable price point. All the PowerZone stores are connected through an information backbone to the central hub for efficient planning, management and stocking.

The challenges for the stores lie in the areas of logistics, scale and size of the channel partners, since the company has taken the franchise route. Future plans include entry into new markets and building up exclusive and strong retail partner networks complemented by localised communication. “We also undertake various schemes for engaging influencers apart from ensuring a dedicated after-sales service,” says Jayadev Galla, managing director, ARBL.

USP: ARBL’s PowerZone challenges the unorganised sector through the use of superior technology and products made available at a competitive price point.

Prayas

Mumbai-based pharmaceutical company, Sanofi-Aventis, realised that the biggest demand for basic healthcare in India today is in rural areas. Many of these healthcare centres lack quality medicines, trained professionals, sophisticated diagnostic tools and facilities. While this makes it difficult for doctors to provide optimal treatment, the ultimate sufferer is the patient.

 Prayas, meaning endeavour, was launched to improve the quality of healthcare practice in rural India by bridging the diagnosis-treatment gap through a structured continuing education programme for rural doctors across India. Following a ‘mentor-mentee’ model, specialists from semi-urban areas share the latest medical knowledge and clinical experience with general practitioners based in smaller towns and villages in the interiors of India, thereby empowering doctors to provide optimal treatment to their patients.

 Since availability of quality drugs remains a challenge for the rural practitioner, under the umbrella of Hoechst (an initiative of Sanofi-Aventis), medicines are made available at affordable prices through a proper distribution channel to reach the remote interiors of India. “We have already introduced 14 drugs for infections, pain and gastric disturbances, dermatological problems and vitamins-minerals,” says Pratin Vete, senior director, commercial operations – Tier-II & internal medicine, Sanofi-India.

The investment for this initiative is primarily by doctors in terms of investing their time and the retention rate of over 90 per cent has been encouraging. “Since 2009, we have conducted more than 4,800 workshops with participation from over 11,500 doctors in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Rajasthan,” says Vete. About 525 specialist mentors (MD physicians) conduct these workshops in 575 villages and small towns.  “We have also received new requests from doctors in the nearby areas to enrol for Prayas,” he adds.

In the next phase, Prayas plans to cover 10,000 rural doctors from Punjab, Haryana and Karnataka. By early 2012, the plan is to extend it to the rest of India. “We hope to reach an estimated one lakh doctors by 2015,” says Vete.

 Prayas aims to further modulate the rural healthcare space by initiating partnerships with like-minded organisations. Going forward, riding the digital wave, the Prayas digital initiative is expected to balance the headcounts required and facilitate novel programmes and associations with rural healthcare providers, thus lending automation. Prayas now plans to initiate patient awareness in an effort to enhance preventive care.

USP: Sanofi-Aventis’ Prayas has an impressive retention rate of close to 90 per cent amongst doctors investing their time and expertise in developing rural healthcare.

Selco-India

Started in 1995 with a social emphasis, Bengaluru-based Selco-India aims to improve the quality of life and provide decentralised electricity solutions for rural India. Its founder, Dr. Harish Hande had seen it work in South America and wanted to try it here. “Even today, as much as 50 per cent of rural India does not have power,” points out Ashis Kumar Sahu, chief operating officer, Selco-India.

The social enterprise was started in Karnataka to offer solar power solutions to households with a monthly income of less than Rs 4,000. This is a virgin territory where Selco-India picks up existing solutions and customises the power solution based on need and affordability. “We employ rural youth and train them on the basics of marketing,” says Sahu. The company has tied-up with social technology enterprises as well as finance companies to ensure that the prospective customers can easily deploy its solutions. These solutions are targeted at households and are not for improving infrastructure.

Currently, the company has a presence in Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat in addition to Karnataka, and plans to expand to other regions too. For this, it plans to tie-up with local entrepreneurs, where it will provide training with regards to skill sets and its products and the local entrepreneur will do the selling and deployment. The next step for Selco-India is to serve households with Rs 1,000-2,000 in monthly income. The company is taking steps to make this happen.

USP: A sustainable model that provides power solutions to rural India while roping in the rural youth to sell and deploy its solutions, thus creating more employment.

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