So­cial Star­tups Help Fill in the Blanks in Govt Schemes

Cos help cit­i­zens gain aware­ness and get ac­cess to var­i­ous govt pro­grammes they are en­ti­tled to

The Economic Times - - Disruption: Startups & Tech - Vishal.Dutta@ times­

Ahmed­abad: All gov­ern­ment bud­gets slot in schemes that promise to im­prove the lives of mil­lions, but very few of the in­tended ben­e­fi­cia­ries ever fully un­der­stand what they are en­ti­tled to. That in­for­ma­tion gap makes for a huge busi­ness op­por­tu­nity.

A grow­ing tribe of so­cial en­ter­prises that in­cludes the likes of HaqDar­shak, The In­dian Iris and Schemo­pe­dia is en­abling thou­sands of cit­i­zens gain aware­ness of and get ac­cess to var­i­ous gov­ern­ment pro­grammes.

Es­sen­tially, th­ese en­ablers help get rid of unau­tho­rised in­ter­me­di­aries from In­dia’s vast ben­e­fits sys­tem by di­rectly equip­ping ben­e­fi­cia­ries — poor ru­ral and ur­ban fam­i­lies, farm­ers and even small traders — to ap­ply for en­ti­tle­ments.

This could be some­thing as sim­ple as help­ing a per­son ap­ply for an Aad­haar num­ber, the bio­met­ricbased dig­i­tal iden­tity that’s be­com­ing cru­cial for any­one seek­ing to avail gov­ern­ment-pro­vided ben­e­fits. Jan­abai, a res­i­dent of a slum in Pune, said she got her Aad­haar card with­out a glitch thanks to HaqDar­shak.

As an in­de­pen­dent worker for the com­pany, since then, she has been guid­ing sev­eral oth­ers in ap­ply­ing for gov­ern­ment schemes.

“For peo­ple like us who are usu­ally de­pen­dent on daily wages and have ex­tra fam­ily re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, such plat­forms are use­ful in help­ing us avail ben­e­fits pro­vided by both the gov­ern­ment as well as pri- vate com­pa­nies,” she said. HaqDar­shak has cov­ered nearly 20,000 fam­i­lies and helped more than 500 fam­i­lies suc­cess­fully ap­ply for a num­ber of gov­ern­ment pro­grammes, which in­clude schol­ar­ships, loans, la­bor cards and ze­r­obal­ance bank ac­counts. The com­pany gen­er­ated rev­enue of about ₹ 4 lakh over the last five months in the busi­ness-to-cus­tomer seg­ment after field op­er­a­tions started. In the busi­ness-to-busi­ness seg­ment, it earned about ₹ 50 lakh in the same pe­riod through com­mis­sions as well as con­tracts signed with com­pa­nies and trusts to digi­tise their schemes that are then de­liv­ered to ben­e­fi­cia­ries through HaqDar­shak’s net­work of in­de­pen­dent work­ers. “The power of col­lec­tive groundup ac­tion is crit­i­cal for a ser­vice to work in a com­mu­nity to en­sure that the de­liv­ery of en­ti­tle­ments is pro­vided in time to the most needy,” said Aniket Doe­gar, CEO of HaqDar­shak. The com­pany, which is backed by PR Gana­p­aty, the In­dia pres­i­dent of so­cial en­ter­prise in­cu­ba­tor Vill­gro, plans to shortly launch an An­droid app pro­vid­ing in­for­ma­tion on more than 1,500 schemes and ser­vices.

The In­dian Iris, which be­gan op­er­a­tions in June 2015, has at least 60,000 users ac­cess­ing its web­site ev­ery month for in­for­ma­tion on gov­ern­ment schemes and pro­grammes.

Th­ese en­ablers help get rid of unau­tho­rised in­ter­me­di­aries from In­dia’s vast ben­e­fits sys­tem

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