Over the last 4 years, we have reached out to over 300,000 families across 19 states and enabled them to access welfare schemes. While doing so, we got a lot of critical inputs from the most interior of the 61 districts we operate in. For one, enterprises in rural India are bustling but also struggling to access support from the government. Urban India is no different. All this, despite the government spending billions on the MSME sector.
Haqdarshak for MSMEs took shape because of the numerous questions entrepreneurs asked us while we spoke of personal insurance and pensions. Be it the dairy farmers in Pune's Mavals block or street vendors in Madhya Pradesh. Not to forget, our fellow startups in various accelerator programs we were a part of! How can we access the funds the government has kept aside for? How do we get the benefits of schemes and subsidies made for us?
The questions kept coming. We knew there had to be a solution for this. So we embarked on the journey of researching on schemes for enterprises and building a model where we can also provide the last mile support for applications. During this time, we also got evidence for the demand for this offering.
Radha Jagtap, is a dairy farmer in the Maval block of the Pune district. She wanted to apply for the Kisan Credit Card — a registration that also makes her eligible to receive Rs.6000 for every animal she rears. When Jagtap went to enquire about this registration, she was asked for the 7/12 [saat bara] document which is essentially proof of her rearing activities. She had no idea why the government is asking for this and was hesitant to submit it with some wrong notions that the department might use it as a collateral.
“While we know about the programs which the government announces, the big challenge today for entrepreneurs especially in rural and semi urban areas is their preparedness for applying for such schemes,” says Aniket Doegar, co-founder and CEO of Haqdarshak. “That’s where the value proposition of our solution for MSMEs lies — simplify the information about scheme application and further also provide them the support to apply for it.”
Like Aniket mentions, Radha Jagtap was provided support by making her understand why the document was critical and also helped to submit her application for the scheme. There are millions like her who need this support. Vendors, farmer producer organisations [FPOs], self-help groups [SHGs], shop owners, restaurants, barbers, the list is endless. And there are more than 6 crore of them contributing to 29% of India’s GDP.
Mayur Chaudhari owns a small plant nursery in rural Thane, Maharashtra. During the lockdown he hardly had any customers and revenue was negligible to keep the business running, he told our team. We then screened him and informed him about a private loan scheme, specially designed for small businesses for COVID related emergencies.
“I got to know about Haqdarshak, they helped identify and inform me about the schemes that have been introduced to support MSMEs during this pandemic. I was eligible for a private scheme, the COVID Emergency Business Loan for MSMEs by a fintech company through which I could get a loan of Rs. 70,000,” Chaudhari says.
“The application process was completely online, even uploading the documents, this was a struggle for me but Haqdarshak helped in the application process as well. Within 3 days of application I have received the loan amount and now plan to buy more sapling and improve my business.”
The idea for the new service is also to connect MSMEs with private financing apart from government schemes. The Haqdarshak for MSMEs solution consists of a web platform to begin with which has over 200 schemes decoded in a simple and lucid manner. These include financial subsidies, loans, incubation schemes, registrations, licenses and certificates. Over the next few months, we’ll be adding more features like the eligibility check and end to end application support service. Further, we are also working with various organisations to implement the solution in rural and semi- urban areas where the MSME sector is exponentially growing.
With the new service addition, Haqdarshak is further expanding its scope for impact and ensuring that every citizen matters!
While the winds of change in terms of women empowerment are blowing strong in urban areas of India, Haqdarshak is making efforts to extend the same to rural areas. By training women as Haqdarshaks we are trying to help them become financially independent. By becoming our hands and eyes on the ground they can make an extra earning of anywhere between Rs.2500 to Rs.4000 per month. Training them to become a Haqdarshak not only enables them to support their family financially, it also make them digitally literate as they use our mobile app to help citizens discover and apply for schemes. Until now, we have trained more than 3500 such women across 8 states in India, and are adding more every day.
Apart from the financial benefits, we have seen a huge change in the perception of these women by the communities they work in. Many of them have told us that they are now community champions, and people come to them knowing they will help them and they can be trusted. In many villages, these women, who in the past wouldn’t have interacted with those outside their families, now take on government officials and authorities. In Chandrapur for instance, our Haqdarshak cycles her way to district offices which are often hours away from where these women live. Such determination and integrity has empowered these women to become entrepreneurs and prove their mettle.
Working with government authorities for maximum impact
Advocacy is as important as impact. In fact the former is needed to ensure the latter. Watch the video to know how Haqdarshak engages in advocacy and how government departments are benefitted. This is an example of how we are trying to work in synergy with the government in order to create a better impact on a larger scale. When our efforts are recognised and supported by such enterprising officers, we are motivated to collaborate further and work on best possible ways to serve our citizens.
Haqdarshak is helping thousands of construction workers access basic entitlements
Construction labourers in India are one of the most deprived and underprivileged. Coming from extremely rural parts of the country to cities and towns, these labourers often have no idea about basic entitlements. Haqdarshak is working with thousands of such labourers to create awareness about their rights and to help them avail benefits of schemes designed for them.
We operate directly at the construction sites and help these labourers apply for documents like PAN cards, construction labour cards and schemes like pensions and insurance.
One of the most important documents among these is the construction labour card, issued by the labour welfare board. The possession of this card makes construction labourers eligible for around 15-20 schemes, specifically designed for them that cover everything from health to education. The mere unawareness about these cards results into massive amounts of funds kept for labour welfare untapped.
We have already worked with over 2,000 construction labourers and are targeting to reach 4,000 more by the end of this year.
One of our primary pursuits in letting citizens know about their rights, is helping them acquire those. For construction labourers who put their blood, sweat and tears in each day’s work being able to get financial assistance for their children’s education is truly a boon. Even though there are schemes on the government’s end to help this under privileged class, very few are aware of them. Watch the video to know how we helped a construction labourer in Nanded, Maharashtra get a labour card.
The first step to advocacy
At Haqdarshak, we strongly believing in advocating for the rights of citizens. In the process, we have brought about clarity and information transparency with the effective use of the Right to Information Act and by reaching out to concerned authorities. A small win for us was when our intervention led to the Maharashtra state information commissioner issuing an order to all departments to main data accuracy about schemes on their websites. Haqdarshak’s co-founder and chief program and implementation officer Asha Krishnan, explains:
“In order to build an effective database of schemes, all reliable details regarding a scheme need to be obtained. This is not the case for many state department schemes. In Maharashtra, it was found that there are schemes for which details are available, but the implementation is not complete; there were others for which the detailed application process was missing. In most cases, application form details were not known. Initially we filed some Right to Information (RTI) requests to get specific details about a scheme. However, we felt that there needs to be a more strategic manner to find a comprehensive solution to this issue.
It’s a well know fact that women in India are underemployed and unfortunately do not have access to opportunities—especially in rural areas—even if they are willing to work, largely because of social constraints and household responsibilities. But stories like this one, where our Haqdarshak from Banswara, Rajasthan, Ganga Devi, is narrating how she can now support her family gives us immense hope and strengthens the belief that women power is unmatched! Watch the video to know how Ganga was able to help her fellow villagers apply for schemes and get benefits.