At the Entrepreneurship Summit called by US president Barack Obama, India will be represented by Irfan Alam, chairman of SammaaN Foundation which works for socio-economic uplift of rickshaw-pullers an
At the Entrepreneurship Summit called by US president Barack Obama, India will be represented by Irfan Alam, chairman of SammaaN Foundation which works for socio-economic uplift of rickshaw-pullers and their families. The news is creating a buzz because he is from a state which is hardly known for business and corporate activities.
"That is the fun part of it," says Alam. He, like 79 others across the globe, has got an invitation from Obama to attend the summit in Washington DC in April this year.
Irfan's enterprise is not hardcore business. "There are around 10 million rickshaw-pullers across the country. Most of them are illiterate and poor. Over 90 per cent of them are farm workers who migrate to cities for want of employment at home. They hire rickshaws for which they pay owners Rs 30 to Rs 40 per day and end up with a pittance for themselves,” he said.
Irfan, in his thirties, got banks to finance rickshaw-pullers. "We designed rickshaws which can shelve newspapers, mineral water bottles and other such small items for sale if the passenger needs them," he said. These rickshaws also carry advertisements and the pullers get 50 per cent of the ad revenue, the remainder goes to SammaaN.
Thus apart from the fare, the rickshaw-puller also earns from the ads and the sales. They end up as owners of the rickshaw after re-paying the bank loan in installments.
SammaaN has been active in states like Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana and Jharkhand. “The Madhya Pradesh government has made a special task force to implement our special rickshaw project in the state,” said Alam, a graduate from Bihar's Begusarai district and MBA from the prestigious IIM-Ahmedabad.