Finding Electricians, Plumbers or Gardeners Was Never This Easy – With Just the Tap of an App


This article on using mobile technology for social good is part of the #Mobile4Good series & is made possible by Vodafone India.

Searching for a good dhobi, driver, plumber, or cobbler? Look no more. This app can help you find all such service providers near your place with just one click. 

That trustworthy plumber, the next-door washerman, your favourite gardener, the electrician who has always been there, and the cobbler who sits at the very same corner every day – these people are such an essential and comforting part of our everyday lives. Their availability is very important for the smooth functioning of any residential area. If you move to another home and can’t find service providers in your locality, things can’t function properly till this matter is settled first. And increasingly today, as any homemaker will tell you, it is becoming harder and harder to find good help.

Well, not anymore! It does not matter if you are a new or old resident in an area, finding service providers for daily requirements is now just a phone call away. All thanks to iSewa, an app that helps you find exactly who you need, provides his/her exact address, and helps you call the person right to your doorstep if needed.

This app brings different types of service providers to the same platform and helps them, as well as users, in more ways than one.

Mobile app for finding service providers

Ravee S Aahluwalia of Patiala Foundation

Developed by Patiala Foundation in November 2015, iSewa already has over 200 downloads. More than 600 services have been registered – pandits, bag repair services, carpenters, cooks, domestic help, and more – they are all there!

Patiala Foundation is an NGO that has been working on developing livelihood projects since 2009. Two years ago, they started a facility named dial-a-rickshaw, with a view to making it easier for residents of Patiala to find auto rickshaws when needed.

“Many people, who don’t have their own vehicles, often find it difficult to travel independently because they first have to walk for some distance to find an auto,” says Ravee S Aahluwalia, Chief Functionary (General Secretary) of Patiala Foundation.

The team first developed a complete database of auto drivers in Patiala who wanted to be associated with them. Users simply had to call a number and inform the operators about their location. The Foundation members would then look for available drivers in the locality and direct them to the passengers. The one challenge that they faced the most though was that every time a driver denied duty they had to call someone else; this resulted in a lot of time being lost.

While working to find a solution to this challenge, Ravee came up with an idea.

Mobile app for finding service providers

“I thought of making a mobile app in which we can upload all the available data as is. So a passenger just has to open the page of his particular colony and he/she will find the details of all available rickshaw drivers,” he says.

It was while developing this idea that another one struck Ravee….that the app could be extended for all service providers like cobblers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, etc., across the country. And that is how iSewa was born.

Instead of mapping different cities and finding these providers, Patiala Foundation decided to make the process more community oriented. They developed the app in such a way that the users themselves are responsible for adding different providers that they trust. Someone who has been living in a particular area for years would definitely know about the best services available there — they can easily add them on the app for others to utilise.

In this way, it becomes easier for users to find services and also for the providers to get more customers.

Mobile app for finding service providers

If you have to add a service to the app, you need to log in. Your information is verified by the Patiala Foundation team with the help of a phone call to the provider to make sure that all the details are correct. Missing information is added as well.

Those who are looking for services don’t need to log in. iSewa is available on Android phones and will be soon launched for iOS as well. The services can also be accessed directly from the Foundation’s website.

The app can be used all over India. If a city is not available on the app currently it’s because no one has added any service providers from there as yet. However, a new user can definitely add information about services.

Other than service provides, the app also provides information about blood donors. “We have started adding details of blood donors in different cities, of people who are voluntarily ready to donate. People can log into iSewa and find the right match in case of an emergency,” says Ravee.

Patiala Foundation is also planning to form groups of different service providers in different cities and conduct training sessions for them.

Mobile app for finding service providers

“Let’s suppose there are ten plumbers in one locality. We will organize a training session for them, in which we will invite some expert from the field who will help enhance their skills. We will also organize knowledge camps for these people to help them learn about various government schemes that may be of benefit to them.”

In this way, iSewa can help increase livelihood opportunities for service providers in different cities. As a non-profit organization, the Foundation has developed the app mostly with the help of donations and collections from the members. Some other services available on the app include florists, hair-stylists, drycleaners, masons, painters, etc.

“There is an elderly man in Karnal who cleans brass utensils. Earlier, he used to visit just two or three houses in a week on his bicycle, and that was all. Not many people knew about him. But several people wanted to find someone who could help them clean their antique brass collections and utensils. We uploaded his details on the app. Today, he gets calls from about five to six houses in a day and remains very busy. That is the kind of impact iSewa is creating,” concludes Ravee.

Download iSewa here.

Featured image credits: (L) Wikimedia, (R) Wikimedia.

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