How do the Sakhis keep the whole, sprawling operation running?
Conlusion of a 3 part series.
An important challenge in promoting new products in any rural region is educating both distributor and consumer. Any product demands high concept selling. This increases operational costs.
However, the Sakhis here were never indolent. Since the earthquake, SSPâ€™s SHG work has taught them much about the processes involved in major operations. Their regular involvement in the village communities and the governmentâ€™s projects ensures they face little or no social barriers. Thanks to their capability, approachability, and greater exposure, companies can easily train them.
The network needs support from suppliers as well, who need to address servicing issues and training initiatives on time. The transportation costs are themselves an important issue, and are directly dependent on the order quantities of Sakhis. A dedicated vehicle is viable only on quantities that are worth above Rs. 5000. Smaller order quantities are usually sent via local buses. However, large order quantities are essential for SRPL to maintain its scale, which translates to a need of capital.
A Sakhi Retail TempoÂ
SRPL is addressing these problems. It has increased its visibility in the area further, opening a showroom for suppliers, thereby encouraging bulk orders, and has cut transportation costs by as much as 50 percent.
Â The role of Milaap
The SSPâ€™s financing arm is the Sakhi Samuday Kosh, which has managed to disburse over 11 crores in the area in the last financial year, and has recovered 97 percent of its loans. However, funding Sakhis is not so easy, with the high interest rates.
Milaap seeks to provide low cost capital to Sakhis, with the help of which the chain can finally achieve scale.
It took vision and commitment to develop a distribution channel in one of Maharashtraâ€™s most underdeveloped regions. Like a phoenix from the ashes, Osmanabad's Sakhis have risen from the rubble and turned their blight into bounty.