Opportunity Apr, 04 2011

Expanding, Low-cost Rural Franchise

Acknowledging rural India’s potential, enterprises are working towards creating an impact in villages by creating an eco-system of micro-enterprises run by entrepreneurs with a specific focus on women entrepreneurs. One such social enterprise is Drishte

By Ramanjit Kaur
Feature Writer
Expanding, Low-cost Rural Franchise

India is a country where major part of the population is spread over the villages with approximately 74 per cent of it living in rural areas and only 26 per cent in the cities or towns. Until recently, huge part of the marketing and franchise expansion was done to target the urban population of the country. But now the marketing and franchise potential of the rural India is rapidly growing as it remains a largely untapped market. If one could aggregate the total demand for products and services it is huge. Drishtee has recognised this potential by focusing on the rural entrepreneurs as a means to reach to the community. Drishtee is an over 10 year old social enterprise that focuses exclusively on rural India. This article focuses on journey of Drishtee in rural India so far via franchising.

Emergence of Drishtee

Drishtee has started its journey by pioneering and popularising the e-kiosk / telecentre model. These entrepreneur-managed kiosks provide a wide range of fee-based products and services ranging from insurance and micro-credit to seeds and phone cards. Each kiosk has a different suite of offerings. In the year 2000, it has established itself as Drishtee Dot Com Ltd, which was later renamed as Drishtee Development and Communication Ltd (DDCL). In 2003, the company set up its first NGO arm called Drishtee Foundation. It focuses on creating basic infrastructure of the supply chain and the network of franchisees while Drishtee Foundation (DF) actually runs the services including Banking, Micro-finance, Health and Education which use the reach and outlets created by DDCL.

Promoting conversion franchise concept

DDCL and Drishtee Foundation work in synergy and have a common vision and mission. In 2008, Drishtee forayed into conversion franchising by launching rural retail points (RRPS) that has converted village shops selling fast moving consumer goods (FMCGs), like packaged food and hygiene products into Drishtee franchises.

Franchise structure

Drishtee is known for offering unique franchise opportunities to those aspirants who want to start their own social enterprise. It offers franchise under:

  • Centre for Education and Entrepreneurship Programme (CEEP) Franchise
  • Women Health Franchise
  • Drishtee Money and Business Facilitator Franchise 
  • Drishtee Rural Retail Point Franchise 

Here is a chance to partner with such an established, well-known brand that has a proven business format.

  • The franchisee must be 10th or 12th pass out, depending on the franchise format
  • There can only be only one Drishtee franchisee in one Gram Panchayat and must be the resident of the village or Gram Panchayat. Also, no two Drishtee franchisees can be within 5 kilometers of each other
  • Prior business experience in the similar field is preferable along with the knowledge of basic computer skills. 
  • The education franchisee should not be affiliated to any multi-level-marketing model, or to any insurance company

Franchise benefits

Drishtee provides extensive training on entrepreneurship, marketing skills, clear and simple service delivery manuals and continuing professional advice to support your business and help you. Besides this, it also helps you in 

  • Setting-up the respective franchise (Educational, Health, Micro-finance and Retail Points)
  • Effectively aggregating and efficiently operating and managing the franchise business
  • Connecting the franchisee with the Drishtee's Divisional Office and ensuring continuous service flow
  • Creating a successful business that the franchisee owns

All an aspiring entrepreneur needs is a little investment which can range from Rs 5, 000 to Rs 20, 000 depending upon the vertical under which franchises are allotted.

Stumbling blocks

In spite of its unique concept and low investment franchise formats, there are certain challenges that Drishtee has faced while establishing itself. For instance, the company was facing problem in the starting in reducing the upfront franchise fees, reducing risk for entrepreneurs and collection of franchise fee. To solve this problem, Drishtee started using revenue sharing as a financing mechanism by focusing on sales-based revenue sharing. Besides this, enforcement of contracts was a huge challenge that the company has circumvented by offering financial incentives to shape behaviour.

Thus, through its organised platform Drishtee delivers quality products and services at the door-steps of its rural consumers thereby saves the cost involved in the form of wage loss, business hours, time and transportation cost.

Outlook for future

Presently, Drishtee is operating through 5645 registered franchisees. Now, the company is planning to expand in geographies like Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Bihar and Haryana till 2012. After that, it will expand in new geographies and expecting the double of its current network size by 2015.

Over the years, Drishtee has facilitated and supported a network of over 14,000 rural enterprises to cater to the critical needs of the base of pyramid (rural population). Like most great ideas, Drishtee was born with the passionate belief in professional solutions. Be a part of this organisation and grow with it!!

Related: Unique yet lucrative biz ideas

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