When the co-founders of eSamudaay prepared the blueprint for driving digital swaraj amongst the vast majority of small businesses, little did they know how crucial the idea would become to rural India. Not until the team collaborated with like-minded initiatives late last year, did the team actually recognize the potential of creating producer circles.
The initiative to build rural entrepreneurship with digital and technology intervention was piloted in Chamarajanagar, among the poorest of districts in Karnataka. The JSS Rural Incubation and Skill Development Centre (JSS RISDC) joined hands with us to scale up local business and generate additional employment in the region.
The idea behind creating a producer network is to help create self-reliant communities that will then create sustainable economic growth, leading to a truly AtmaNirbhar Bharat. The focus of employment would be the youth and women in the district, resulting in a hub focusing on agri- products, food, health and wellness, textiles, home decor, and arts and crafts.
The first outcome of this ambitious project is already visible as entrepreneurs and farmers in the region are producing chemical-free jaggery. This back-to-the-roots endeavour has resulted in the joint venture reaching out to more than 100 Aalemanes in the region. Most of them were using unsafe, unhygienic and labour intensive methods to make jaggery.
As a first step, the JSS RISDC conducted a two-week workshop in April with these Aalemane operators and created an action plan on how to remove chemicals from the production process and create automation for better safety and hygiene. Moreover, these operators were taught to create product innovation as a means to attract the urban consumers.
With the production getting off the blocks, the next step was to create a network of wholesalers and retailers who could procure from these small and marginal producers and deliver them to customers in big cities. eSamudaay also joined forces with SolutionBuggy, an AI-enabled tech platform, to develop the best practices and bring in experts to help jaggery producers innovate and sell their products to a wider and discerning audience.
We are also involved with the producer circle to create effective go-to-market strategies with sample orders of 200 kg having already been dispatched to customers. Going forward, efforts would be made to include identification of more producer circles in other regions.