Most of us rarely hesitate to bargain down the price of vegetables and fruits from local street vendors. Yet we meekly accept what is available at supermarkets, no matter how expensive the produce are.
While the profit margin earned by a street vendor would be nowhere close to the enormous turnover raked in by supply chain giants, it is a local sabjiwala who has to bear the brunt of a customer for price reduction, as he juggles to make his ends meet.
The plight of local vendors came to the notice of 22-year-old Akshay Jain, a MBA graduate who had come back to India after completing his degree from Coventry University, England. He was taken aback upon being informed by V N Tripathi, a family friend about the poor state of local vegetable sellers who could not afford medical treatment, owing to low income.
This prompted the young man to research and conceptualise something that could alleviate the condition of the vendors and help them earn more profits.
Despite hailing from an extensive business family, Akshay opted to work with unorganised and unrecognised vendors and came up with a business model that incorporated the power and reach of technology to improve the vendors’ lifestyle with social security.
Following two years of research, eBaajaar finally came into being as a social enterprise that acts as a bridge between street vendors and customers through Internet. “eBaajaar helps users order fresh vegetables and fruits from local sabjiwalas and gets these home delivered in just two hours with no minimum order value and in just few clicks,” says Akshay to The Better India.
Ideated in early 2016, Akshay and Tripathi put in their own money to transform their idea into a viable reality.
On May 7, the venture took flight when it was launched as a mobile application for public use in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai.
What makes eBaajaar stand out is its functionality of delivering the grocery within a span of two hours and that too, at no extra charge and cash on delivery option, in comparison to similar online grocery platforms that require customers to place their order at least 24 hours prior to the delivery or pay for extra charges for same day delivery.
Another interesting aspect of eBaajaar is that one gets to compare the prices rated by different sellers and even bargain. “Our bargain feature gives a great experience to users and ensure that each user gets the best deal for fresh vegetables and fruits,” he explains.
While eBaajaar is finding popularity amidst customers in the region, the journey to where the venture has reached today hadn’t been one without a struggle.
Akshay found it quite taxing to convince vendors to join hands with the enterprise initially as most had limited familiarity with smartphone technology.
“We made the system such that a vendor had the option of choosing their service area as well as freedom of price control. Besides zero joining fee and vernacular language as communication option, we had also integrated social security schemes for the vendors that includes life/health insurance and pension policies that appeared lucrative enough for the vendors to join us,” says Akshay.
In last six months, eBaajaar has been able to bring over 500 exclusive vendors on board and currently serves over 1800 households while stretching its services across the city.
As of future plans, Akshay aims to extend eBaajaar as a hyper localised service across the country with improved technology under a wholesale (B2B) model.
“Food preferences differ by socio-economic strata, ethnicity and age profile of residents under a given catchment and local vendors offer a hyper localised assortment and service. We intend to reach out across the country through the same model,” he says.
With the motto, ‘Buy local, support local’, eBaajaar is not just helping people save a trip to super markets but also enabling them to be active contributors to small retailers and farmers’ livelihoods who can now support their families better and educate their children as well.
“For me eBaajaar is not just a business, it’s a way to give the power of technology and social security to unorganized and unrecognised retailers with financial sustainability,” adds Akshay.
To download eBaajaar app, you can click here. To know more about the enterprise, you can write to them at firstname.lastname@example.org.