In recent times, Rajasthan has emerged as an industrial and economic hub, driven by the growth of startups in the region. While Jaipur remains the preferred base for most startups in the state, other Tier II cities of Rajasthan, including Jodhpur and Kota, are now building their own a highly inter-connected robust startup ecosystems.
This growth has been concurrent with the slew of reforms being introduced by the state government, including ease of doing business for startups.
Rajasthan currently ranks #6 in India on World Bank’s ‘Ease of Doing Business’ index, according to the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion’s (DIPP) report on “Assessment of State Implementation of Business Reforms”.
Recently, in the fourth week of February, Rajasthan state officials released the final guidelines to utilise a $77.3 Mn (INR 500 Cr) startup promotion fund that was launched by the state’s CM, Vasundhara Raje, during the Kota Digifest in August 2017.
As stipulated, the fund corpus will include components for women-led and green solutions startups and has earmarked $15.4 Mn (INR 100 Cr) and $7.73 Mn (INR 50 Cr) for each respectively.
In a bid to further facilitate entrepreneurship and job creation in the state, Inc42, under the aegis of Digital Rajasthan, has undertaken the arduous task of gathering insights into the state’s startup ecosystem and ongoing digital transformation, brought about by the government in recent times with a one of its kind five city tour – “Digital Rajasthan Yatra”.
As part of a six-day tour ahead of the Rajasthan IT Day on March 21, a team from Inc42 will be travelling across five major cities – namely Jaipur, Ajmer, Bhilwara, Kota and Tonk – chronicling their journey in painstaking detail.
The aim of the initiative is to conduct in-depth interviews & group meetings with stakeholders & collect and record data on how the locals are utilising Internet, smartphones and different applications to boost their businesses, highlight the inspiring stories of women empowerment, as well as assess the increased adoption of digital technologies in the urban & rural landscape.
Apart from gathering knowledge around the shifting technological adoption, we will also strive to highlight the inspiring stories of women empowerment from the city and local innovations.
What The Initiative Will Entail
Supported by the Government of Rajasthan, iStart, Rajasthan IT Day, Rajasthan Stack, Challenge For Change, Qrate, some of the areas that Inc42 will be studying closely during the six day-tour include the adoption of e-Mitra, a mobile-based payment application for making utility bill payments using netbanking, credit & debit cards, etc., Bhamashah Yojana for women empowerment, soil health cards and e-National Agriculture Market (NAM) for farmers, ecommerce, digital payment solutions in both rural and urban regions; penetration of Internet, smartphones and social media, use of platforms like WhatsApp for buying and selling goods, among others.
At the end of the tour, the Inc42 team will launch a detailed report using the insights gathered during the trip at Rajasthan’s IT Day.
Follow this post for a live blog of our complete journey and the insights we gathered!
iStart Nest: India’s Only Centralised Incubator Providing Free Incubation To Startups
Our second last destination of the Digital Rajasthan Yatra was visiting iStart Nest. The State Government has put forward a platform iStart, the only-of- its-kind end to end startup development platform to foster innovation, create jobs and facilitate investment. This flagship initiative by the Government of Rajasthan aims to nurture entrepreneurship which will further help in the economic growth and development of the state.
iStart not only provide a prodigious platform to the investors but would also create a competitive environment among the youngsters working for startup initiatives.
Through this initiative, the State Government intends to build an environment where there would be an easy access to knowledge exchange and funding. Hon’ble Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Smt Vasundhara Raje has declared an INR 500 crore fund targeted for the startup promotion.
iStart provides the following services to help the startups:
- Act as a one-stop solution for Startups, Incubators, and VCs for ease of doing business and assessing all benefits & offers by the Government of Rajasthan
- Help Startups to be discovered by relevant stakeholders
- Help you connect with investors, accelerators, and incubators
- Helping investors, accelerators and incubators discover curated, high-potential
- Programs to help startups improve their chances of success
- Content, workshops, and resources to help entrepreneurs
iStart Nest Incubator
iStart Nest, Government of Rajasthan’s incubation centre is the only centralised incubator in the country providing free incubation to emerging startups. The incubation program is designed to help startups gain traction through deep mentor engagement, rapid iteration cycles, and fundraising preparation.
iStart Nest offers state-of- the art facilities at its incubation centre with wide range of resources and mentoring from industry tycoons. iStart Nest works with an extensive network of investors, accelerators and mentors to help entrepreneurs launch and grow the innovative companies that are building Rajasthan’s future.
Few other initiatives include:
Challenge For Change: It is an initiative wherein startups are provided with an opportunity to partner with the Government of Rajasthan and play an important role in empowering Rajasthan to be the Digital-sthan of the country.
Rajasthan Stack: It is an innovative platform that provides startups, developers and businesses a digital infrastructure to enable a paper-less, presence-less and cashless service delivery.
With the launch of all these initiatives, Government of Rajasthan is developing a digital infrastructure to promote & facilitate entrepreneurship in the state. These technological insertions are boosting the economic standards of the state and boosting emerging startups. Rajasthan has transformed into a “Startup Leader” of the country with the robust, effective, efficient and active digital infrastructure – travelling the path of Rajasthan to DigiSthan.
With Dynamic Leadership Of Principal Sec. Akhil Arora, Things Have Picked Up For Startup Ecosystem
In our first meeting of the last day of Digital Rajasthan Yatra, the Inc42 team met with Sanjay Yadav of Anand Incubation Centre based in Jaipur.
Sanjay congratulated the current government for making things happen to boost startup ecosystem in Rajasthan. “Earlier it was slow paced. There was over-bureaucratisation and inherent procedural delayed. But under the dynamic leadership of Akhil Arora, Principal Secretary, Rajasthan, things have finally started to pick up. I must congratulate him for that,” shared Sanjay.
While discussing the policy model constructed by the government for startups, Sanjay shared about the urgent need to promote participation of private players along with the government on PPP basis.
“We must learn from the International experience including countries like Singapore and China. The government must involve private entities through say Fund of Fund model. This will ensure efficient and effective support and service delivery to the budding startups,” he added.
When asked about his investment mantra, Sanjay shared that he basically checks on three broad parameters before making his investment decisions. First and foremost, the proposed idea must be able to target every person as a potential customer. Second, the business must have the possibility of turning every first customer into a repeat customer. Finally, the proposed business must be based on nth entrepreneurship model. “Give me any such business, I am instantly ready to invest,” he excitingly shared.
Sanjay follows the Bill Gross model of startup studio or of Idea Factory. He keeps looking for opportunities that can create entrepreneurship using technology.
Now Even School Prayers Are Done Using YouTube App
At our last stoppage in Tonk, the Inc42 team met with Rajender Kumar, a school headmaster in a government primary school.
We had an insightful discussion with him on the effect of technology and especially of smartphone revolution powered by low-cost data access on the education sector.
“Earlier student used to just cramming data. Take, for example, school children crammed that Rohida is the state flower of Rajasthan. They knew nothing about it except its name. Now, the teacher shows them its picture on their smartphones along with other details. Now, students understand it better and it helps them to remember for long. This is just a small example of how the technology can play a vital role in ensuring quality and impactful education,” he rightfully shared.
We were amused to know that they run the school prayers on YouTube app.
“We just connect the smartphone with the Bluetooth speaker and play the prayer on YouTube. It helps us having multiple prayers with proper music,” the 50 year-old headmaster shared laughingly.
Rajender also acknowledged the rising trend of e-learning applications by the students. He shared that students want to diversify the means of learnings. Rather than plain and boring readings, they want to see visuals and audios and practical demonstrations.” They have become smart and are more attracted towards smart studies. I think that is good. Thanks to the smartphones,” he averred.
All Teachers Have Single Sign On Log In, A Transparent Method Of Information Dissemination: A Govt. School Teacher
Rajender also shared how the government has integrated governments servants on online platforms. All of the teachers have their Single Sign On (SSO) login id and passwords. This is a simple and transparent method of information dissemination. Also, the penetration of smartphones has bridged the rural-urban gaps. Rural teachers especially lady teachers feel more confident, secure and integrated with rest of world,” he stated.
ANM Workers Are Using Mobile Phones To Click Picture Of Their Registers And PaperWork To Send It To PHC Office
Our next destination in Tonk was meeting Gayatri Soni, an ANM (Auxiliary Nurse & Midwife) worker in the Chironj Village.
Gayatri’s primary job is to spread awareness about health-related government services and policies to the women in the village, provide timely vaccinations, check the status of pregnant women and keep a track if they need any medical support and supplements etc.
The ANM workers are the primary enablers for rural women to get cash benefits through the Bhamashah card. They encourage women to use PHC services and go for childbirth at PHCs only.
While Gayatri who is 58-years-old do not use a smartphone and other digital platforms for mobile applications but she does know about mobile applications like Paytm. Same was the case with other workers except for one young worker who has a smartphone but only uses WhatsApp.
Through this interaction, we got to know, that the workers use phones to click pictures of their registers and paperwork and send it to the PHC office. It has made their life much easy as they save a lot of time going back and forth to the office. This allows them to spend more time with the women community.
An interesting insight that came out of the discussion: Even though women registered through the Bhamashah card directly get their wages in their bank account (and can get it en-cashed at either the bank or e-mitra), there hasn’t been much of a cultural shift in the patriarchal social setup. Because the cash benefits and MNREGA salaries go to their accounts, but their husbands go with them to the banks/e-mitra centre and take the cash from women and keep it.
The digital push hasn’t benefitted women so much, but for the first time in their lifetime given them a slight ray of hope, that even they are entitled to cash and salaries.
There is a very low adoption of digital & any related benefits of being online in rural women. Illiteracy, lack of education, the fear of the unknown in an online world and the fact that many women (even if they are working) are still dependent on their husbands to make a choice to buy a smartphone and even data-packs for internet or even smartphone recharges etc. are the biggest deterrents. There is still a vast & unfortunate gap between how fast technologies have evolved vs how fast are rural women evolving.
Mobile Apps Like NCDEX Has Empowered Us, Now Buyers Can’t Rate Our Produce At Their Own Will: Farmer
On the penultimate day of #DigitalRajasthanYatra, Inc42 team met with small and marginal farmers of Chironj village of Tonk district.
It was an insightful meeting, as we got a chance of ground realities of the agriculture sector. Team Inc42 got to know that most of the landholdings are small and fragmented. The village mostly grows mustard, gram and some veggies like Spinach and Tomato. But the agricultural productivity has been low.
“The most basic problem we face is of irrigation and that is despite farming in the vicinity of river Banas. The climate has changed adversely over the years. Monsoon variability has increased very much. This must be addressed first. Everything else comes later.” shared Ishwar Lal, a 35-year-old farmer.
The farming community in a group discussion shared that apart from irrigation which is a critical input, timely availability of seeds, fertilizers and pesticides is of utmost importance.
This has been a challenge for the village’s farming community. They told that they need to travel 100s of miles and to different mandis to get fertilizers on appropriate timings, which is a daunting task.
“Even after getting fertilizers of our choice, judicious application of it is another issue. Though we got tested our soil in labs to know selective fertilizers needed to be used there is a lack of awareness. Old farmers do not trust this method. They just believe in maximising the application of urea in their farms.” Ishwar averred.
Institutional credit access stands another major challenge. Most of the farmers are forced to borrow from moneylenders at exorbitantly high interest rates. This drags them to a vicious poverty cycle.
“Though we have Kisan Credit Card as well as Cooperative credit facilities, however, the credit limits are very low. This must be increased. One good thing about the institutional credit is, if we pay back our loans on time, we are charged about nothing in the name of interest. That helps us,” shared all the farmers unequivocally.
To our surprise, none of the farmers knew about the eNAM initiative to ensure fair price discovery and price stability. They also did not know about Pradhan Mantri Fasal Beema Yojna.
We got to know that Tonk APMC has also not started operating on eNAM. It still operates on middlemen model.
Inc42 team with great enthusiasm explained the two initiative to the village farmers. They were happy to know that government has taken such great initiatives to help them.
“Saheb samasya ye h ki ham logo tak ye yojnaye phuchti hi nahi h (Sir, the problem is we people don’t get to even know about such initiatives),” shared Kaluram Berwa, a young farmer.
“Maybe roads have not reached our village yet. Maybe water is still an issue. But we have smartphone usage in almost every household of the village. The data consumption cost is very much affordable now,” Kaluram responded in a sarcastic tone when asked about Smartphone penetration and internet usage in the village.
He not only uses his smartphone for social apps like WhatsApp or Facebook, he has installed the application of NCDEX to know about the real market price of agricultural commodity online.
“Now the buyer can not rate my produce as per his own will. I can question him over the prevailing fair price in the market just by checking it on my mobile. This has empowered us,” he confidently shared.
I Don’t Have To Wait For Bookings, With Ola, I Earn Atleast Something Every Day: A Ola Driver
Vinod Kumar Rathore who is an Ola taxi driver shared that though income via ola bookings have dwindled over the years, something is better than nothing.
I don’t need to sit idle to wait for bookings now. Small or Big, Everyday I can earn at least something with Ola, he said.
“Earlier I had to sit idle for many days and wait for bookings. But now with just a click I get bookings and earn money. Though It has come down significantly. Earlier, I was earning about INR 50,000 via ola bookings but now this has come down to just INR15-20K. But still, it is stable and I can stay with my family. ” shared Vinod.
However, he had reservation about the grievance redressal mechanism of the ride-hailing service provider. He alleged it to be much more customer oriented. “Nobody is interested in driver’s plea. But if the customer even unfairly registers complain about me, I am going to be straightaway penalised. This should be addressed” the Ola driver averred.
With Google Listing Now People Know That Our Shop Exists: A Kirana Shop Owner In Kota
Our next stop was meeting Ashok Matani, a Kirana Shop owner in Gumanpura, Kota. Ashok runs ‘Ashok Provisional Store’ since 1989 which is a joint family business managed by three brothers all of the same age group.
Ashok, who switched to a smartphone only three years back has been using a BSNL scheme which offers 1 GB data per day, and costs just INR 429/3 months.
A quick discussion about the type of apps and platforms he uses gave us pretty good insights. He mentioned that though he doesn’t consume news or does social media via his phone but he has listed his business on Google.
He said that with Google Listing now people get to know that this shop exists in Gumanpura and therefore he gets phone calls for placing orders and delivery. He mentioned that currently they only deliver orders within the range of maximum 2-3 km.
Ashok also uses Google for checking new items that are requested by customers (eg. Ingredients used in continental food or international cuisines about which he has limited knowledge).
When it comes to digital payments, Ashok mentioned that they accept Paytm and Bank of Baroda’s PoS machines.
Elderly people like Ashok do get tempted and attracted by the online & digital push but the single biggest reason to not go online is the lack of someone educated & young to hand holds them. His son is in a job in Bengaluru (and doesn’t want to work in the kirana shop). Had he been around, its very likely that he would have integrated his business online!
Most Of The Legal Documentation Work Has Become Digital: Barkha Gehija
Barkha Gehija, a 32-year-old lady who runs a documentary and legal workshop in Kota explained Inc42 team about the change that has happened in legal documentation over the years.
She told us that most of the legal documentation work has become digital.
“Many of the government services are online now. Now we have online stamp papers (e-stamp), online land records, and even the property registration and transfer can be done online. The whole process which was manual and complex earlier, is lot easier now. However, the lack of trust factor is still a challenge. People are either not aware about these or do not perceive these transactions safe and secure” Barkha shared.
Barkha is again well educated and has done her MBA. She strongly believes in the power of technology in resolving people-centric issues. She hails the digitalisation drive taken by the central and state governments and terms it a progressive measure.
“Earlier we had to maintain a manual register to record every transaction of stamp paper sale. That was time-consuming and prone to errors. Now with e-stamps, it just takes one click to update all the records of the day.” she averred.
However, Barkha also shed light on the information dissemination gap prevalent especially in the digital sector.
“For example, some banks have not started accepting e-stamps to date. Can you believe it? When a financial institution has refused to accept e-stamps, how would a common man believe? This must be fixed”.
She herself is a great user of multiple government run mobile apps like e-Grass, e-Panjiyan and UIT.
Low-Cost Data Has Led To 100% Growth In Mobile Repair Market In Last 4-5 Years
Moving on, the Inc42 team made its way to its next stoppage at Kota. We met, Ritesh Jain who is well educated and runs a mobile repair shop and an e-learning centre at Kota.
He told us that, cheaper smartphones and low-cost data #JioEffect have caused over 100% growth in mobile repair market in the last 4-5 years.
Ritesh also shared about the rising trend of buying phones and related accessories online especially among the younger generation.
“More and more people have started trusting online portals like Flipkart and Amazon to buy electronic gadgets including mobile phones. These ecommerce platforms are not only cost competitive because of various discounts and cashback offers but they also provide excellent services like 15-days replacement guarantee. Besides, they also provide EMI options,” Ritesh averred.
It was interesting to know that Ritesh who started his business at small scale, successfully runs a Facebook page named after his shop ‘Cell Solutions’. Recently, he has also developed a mobile application ‘More Kota’ to cater to the online mobile service demand in the market. Ritesh also makes use of social media apps like Whatsapp and Facebook, and also the digital payment modes like Paytm and Freecharge to accept and make payments at his shop.
We Use E-learning Applications Like Textbook And Gradeup To Do Smart Studies: Students
Our third spot in Kota was Rajasthan Technical University where we wanted to understand what the student community is up to, how they are implementing digital platforms in their daily lives and of course, what they think about the startup ecosystem and if they plan to launch something of their own.
We met Prof Rajesh Singhal, Rajasthan Technical University, Kota who shared a couple of facts about the students. He shared that there has been a growing number of students thinking to pursue startup as a career choice.
However, he was quick to mention that the startup ecosystem is still in nascent stage in Kota. After interacting with the professor of Rajasthan Technical University, the Inc42 team got a chance to meet a few students of RTU.
Interestingly, they shared that they were using e-learning applications on their mobile phones to not only expand their knowledge base but also to pursue smart studies and smart time management.
“We use e-learning applications like Textbook andGradeup to do smart studies. These apps let us know how much time we need to invest to complete the syllabi. We make our exam preparation schedule accordingly. It is a smart and digital way to learn,” shared Aarushi Sharma, the student group leader.
Mayank Kala, another student of RTU told us that he has been using social media as well as ecommerce apps widely. But he had limited use of digital payment apps like Paytm. “Generally, I and my friends prefer to transact in cash. It is only when the cash transaction is not possible that we make digital payments. Also, low-cost data has made many of us addicted to our phones. Our daily data consumption has gone up to 1-2 GB per day on an average.”
Introduction Of eNAM, Technology Adoption Has Pushed Agents, Traders To Pay Farmers Well
Our fourth day began with interesting conversations with a farmer community at a sample testing and assigning lab in Kota.
One of the key fact that we found out during our interaction with the farmers (Kamlesh Kumar Chowdhary, Khajuri Village and Suresh Rathore, Galama Village) and the Mandi Analyst, Krishan Kant Sharma was the fact that with the start of the eNAM and the introduction of technologies like lab testing and assigning in the Kota Grain Mandi, the farmer can now directly bring sample to the technician and get it tested.
For instance, a farmer can bring the mustard seeds to the machine direction and the machine will test it for moisture and oil content and give an instant printed report in less than a minute. This printed report ensures that the middlemen commissioning agents and traders value their crops appropriately and push them to get farmer well paid. If a farmer goes through the formal registration process on eNAM, he is bound to get payment in his online bank account within 48 hours.
eNAM Can Potentially Empower The Farmer But Needs Reworking: APMC Secy, Kota
Bidding adieu to Bhilwara, Team Inc42 reached its next destination, Kota. Here, we straightaway went to visit Krishi Upaj Mandi Samiti and met its secretary, Dr. RP Kumawat, a 50-year-old agricultural scientist. At the first glance of it, the entire team was amazed to see the place as it was so huge and absolutely clean.
It was a mesmerising experience when the secretary briefed us about the infrastructure facilities available in the Samiti while taking the tour to the APMC. The Mandi is spread in about 125 Acre of land, and consist of one oil and lab testing machine, five in-house bank branches, one police station, 340 plus shop cum warehouses, 13 housing complexes, 12 agricultural kiosks, one-kilometre long shade and one soil testing centre.
The Mandi employs about 15,000 labourers and has a processing and operating capacity of about one lakh tones. The process is very much automated in this Mandi. “A new farmer who enters the Mandi can register online. He provides us a sample of the commodity which goes for testing in the lab. Within 30-45 seconds, you get to know about the oil and moisture content of the commodity. 45 seconds! It is that fast. Based on that information, the traders bid to price the crop competitively.” Shared Dr. Kumawat.
The APMC has been planning to develop direct railway connectivity inside its premise to save logistics cost. “The railway lines are just nearby. The transacted volume is huge. If we successfully get in-house railway connectivity, the turnaround time can be reduced and also pass the cost benefit to the farmers by giving them higher prices.” The secretary shared tactfully.
While explaining about the National Agricultural Market (eNAM), he shared that eNAM is a pan-India electronic trading portal which connects existing Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) mandis to create a unified national market for agricultural commodities. The NAM portal provides a single window platform to provide all the APMC related information and services.
The secretary of APMC who is also an agricultural scientist termed the initiative as conceptually well imagined for fair price discovery of the farmer’s produce but counted multiple defects on practical grounds.
He concluded on eNAM by saying, “It is a very well thought scheme but still requires a lot of work to be done on implementation ground. There is a long way to go. Agriculture contributes about 15% of GDP and employs about 50% of the population. Apart from a consistent flow of investments in the sector, it requires a lot more sensible assessment of ground realities.”
Facebook, Twitter And WhatsApp Are Necessary Now: Rakesh Ojha, A Community Leader
Rakesh Ojha, a community leader who uses mobile phone and internet heavily believes that platforms like Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp are pretty much necessary now. Rakesh who uses apps like Rajasthan Patrika and the Times of India for the latest news feels that the youth is wasting Internet on YouTube, WhatsApp videos and can make better use of the internet. He further mentioned that internet has provided the means to have better connectivity and quick access to information.
While speaking to Inc42 he said that the biggest reason for them to move towards online payments is the cash-back offers that are regular features online transaction. He further said that the small cash back offers of even INR 300-400 are tempting enough for them.
Speaking about the Sampark platform he believes that on an average 70% of the problems that are put up on Sampark are resolved. One of the major concern he shared was about fake news. He mentioned that a lot of the time, information on Facebook and WhatsApp is wrong and fake and misleads the people which cause the problem.
Riding On The Digital Wave Ram Babu Has Now Listed His Restaurant At JustDial
Forty-eight years old Ram Babu Gaggar runs Priya Food & Continental in Bhilwara. Riding on the digital wave, Ram has listed his restaurant on Just Dial as well as Google. He recognises the importance of online presence in the current techno-savyy times. He believes there is no money crunch in terms of spending for the current generation, what they want is quality of food and great services.
Ram Babu shares that they have become more transparent, accountable and proactive towards their services due to online ratings that the customer is about to give us.
“However, as the flipside of technology in terms of online orders, there is always a risk especially in case of bulk orders, in terms of fake orders or non-delivery of orders. We have no mechanism to verify,” he averred.
Our Ratings Have Become Our USP: A Hotel Manager In Bhilwara
In Bhilwara, we visited a hotel La Abode and interacted with the Hotel Manager – Kaan Singh (from Kishangar). He was quick enough to acknowledge that most of the bookings they get these days are via online.
“Most of our bookings as well as payments have shifted to online platforms,” shared, Kaan Singh, a 32-year-old hotel manager.
Recognising the wave of digital revolution based on smartphone usage and data consumption, the manager told us that he himself is a regular user of online travel apps like MakeMyTrip and TripAdvisor, social apps like Whatsapp and Facebook and digital payments app like Paytm.
“People have become much more informed and can make smart choices now. We also have become more accountable as a service provider because every visitor is going to rate us based on that only. Our ratings only have become our USP. I am sure you have also come here after checking our ratings and reviews,” he smartly shared.
The Not So Tech-Savvy Naresh, With E-Mitra Kiosk Now Spends 12 Hours Online Daily
We met Naresh Sharma who is an owner of an E-Mitra Kiosk in Ajmer. He sat with us and shared interesting insights.
Naresh has been running the kiosks for the past four years. The not so tech-savvy Naresh who started using the e-Mitra platform on his desktop has recently started using it on his mobile as well and spend almost 12 hours online!
While sharing insights on the demographics of the people who use e-Mitra centre, he averred that the centre is mostly used by the college crowd to fill forms, make payments of examination fees, water and electricity bills, admit cards, forms of competitive exams.
He told us that his average monthly turnover is of over INR 1 lakh and this goes higher during months of college fees deposits. He further shared that all the payments made on the e-Mitra kiosks are in cash ranging between INR 300-400 for bills to INR 20k to 30K when fees are being paid.
We gained the following insights from interacting with him about the e-Mitra kiosks:
- Trust: Customer immediately gets a notification on SMS that the payment has been made or deposited.
- No lines or long waits: E.g. Rural students don’t have to come to cities now, they can use rural kiosks and get admission cards there only.
- Good business opportunity for people like Naresh: He is able to make 15k to 20k a month. But that’s because it’s a high footfall kiosk.
- Many e-Mitra owners run parallel businesses: So the kiosks help them with footfall.
- People don’t use e-payments or Paytm, etc. at all for services at e-Mitra.
- A lot of women have been using e-Mitra kiosks. This reflects that females feel comfortable coming to kiosks and are adopting technology faster than males.
- Earlier people used to come and ask which government service or facility to use and how to use it. Now, they have sufficient knowledge and they come to the kiosks for specific tasks only.
The Net Impact Of #JioEffect
After having a high spirited interaction with the Sarpanch of Somalpur, Inc42 team met with the operator of e-Mitra centre, Salimuddin who runs the centre in Panchayat building itself.
He shared that the kiosk facility has been used the most to register or modify Bhamashah card details.
“Most of the requests that we cater are related to Bhamashah card. Since the successful launch of the Yojna, there has been steady growth in the ladies footfall at the centre,” Salimuddin shared.
While acknowledging deeper smartphone penetration in rural areas, he also shared the net impact of #Jioeffect. “Practically speaking, it is Reliance Jio that has changed the pattern of smartphone usage in India. With almost no cost on data consumption, it allowed women to make international video calls to their husbands residing in Saudi, young people to buy and sell things online and make digital payments. Facebook, Whatsapp and Youtube have become an ordinary day-to-day affair here,” he averred.
The Implementation Of Tech Tools For Ensuring Good Governance
In an interaction with Inc42 team, the sarpanch of Somalpur village Ikram Khan shared his experience with the implementation of technology and its associated tools in ensuring good governance.
The functioning of the entire Panchayati Raj system has become efficient. Initiatives like e-gram have not only spread awareness among people about the essential services and support provided by the state government but also made PRIs more transparent and accountable to the people.
“People are much more informed and can make better choices. Technology has eliminated the middleman or any tout. Panchayats are transparent and accountable. This is real democracy.” He stated.
Acknowledging the contribution of smartphones in empowering the bottom stack, the young sarpanch shared that ” When you talk about technology, I see it as a smartphone and access to the internet. These two things have entirely changed the game. But still, there is a long way to go. Technology can be fast but the human interface operating it is still a laggard.”
Team Inc42 in Somalpur Village (Ajmer)
We met with Mohd. Kasim, an ordinary resident of Somalpur village. Kasim shared that he was facing electricity supply issues at his home. It was faulty and irregular. He registered his complaint via “Sampark Portal” online. He was surprised by the immediate response from the government officials. They visited his place within 3-5 days and replaced old transformers with the new ones.
Issue resolved. Not only Kasim, but the whole village benefitted from the quick action.
“I never believed it could be that easy,” Kasim averred. He is happy now and firmly believes in the power of technology.
Team Inc42 in Somalpur Village (Ajmer)
Met with a community of women. All carrying the Bhamashah card! While they claimed that the card is not of much use, but in the same breath, shared that they have been getting timely pensions, scholarships, maternity benefits directly to their own accounts.
“We have the choice to spend the way we want now and there is no cut for the middlemen, no need to visit banks and stand in long lines,” they stated.
They were happy to know it was all possible due to the Bhamashah card they carried!!
Jaipur Can Be The Next FinTech Hub Of India: Girish Gupta, Former CEO, RVCF
Assessing the exponential growth registered by the budding fintech startups in Jaipur, Girish Gupta, former CEO of Rajasthan Venture Capital Fund (RVCF), forecasted the possibility for the state capital becoming a hub of next-generation fintech companies while interacting with the Inc42 team.
Talking about RVCF, Girish shared about the impressive journey from a fund of few crores to a 150+ Cr fund. However, he pitched for more strategic autonomy for the RVCF from the government and also asked for the incorporation of private professional managers on the RVCF management board.
While appreciating the policy initiatives taken by Smt. Vasundhara Raje’s government to create a supportive environment for startups, Girish expressed his satisfaction with the growth of technology-leveraged startup ecosystem in the state.
Credit Facilitation To MSMEs Can Resolve Structural Issues Related To Indian Economy: Mohit Sahney, Finova Capital
Our third destination for the day was at startup’s office which recently gathered media attention for its $6 Mn fundraise from Sequoia Capital. Once a passionate banker, now a committed entrepreneur, Mohit Sahney, Co-Founder of Jaipur-based Finova Capital who believes in “First Income Then Expenditure” theory, wants to empower the downtrodden section of the society by facilitating them credit access.
“MSME sector is the backbone of the Indian economy and holds an immense potential for growth. We want to target the missing middle class. Institutional credit access will not only formalise the MSME sector but also liberate them from the clutches of money lender,” he shared.
Applauding the policy initiatives taken by the central and the state government to boost startup ecosystem in the state, Mohit explained that the impact of such initiatives has been positive.
“At least people are talking about startups, they have started believing in startups and are starting startups. This is the most visible and the most adorable development in India. A healthy sign of competitive entrepreneurship,” Mohit averred.
While expressing his love for Rajasthan, he shared his determination to first cover the state including the interior areas in terms of banking and then only to look out for other avenues.
Technology Can Be A Key Enabler In Bridging The Skill And Employment Divide: Shipra Bhutani
Shipra Bhutani, Founder of Quantum Career Academy. While interacting with Inc42 team she acknowledged the significance of technology in bridging the gap between skilling individuals under Skill India Mission and providing them with sustainable employment.
“We have just come up with an app which will connect every job seeker trained under a government certified programme to its prospective industrial demand. A diesal engine mechanic living in Jaisalmer can just connect to a company based in Delhi by just signing to the app. It is that easy to get a job.”
Shipra who was frank and fearless in her approach shared her inspiring story marked by multiple challenges during the conversation.
“Initially nobody was ready to believe the idea that women could run a successful startup. Not even my family. But my story is a living example of my belief that being a woman can never be a handicap to your success,” she inspiringly pitched.
While expressing much satisfaction on the progress made by the state government in terms of policy initiatives taken to boost startup ecosystem in Rajasthan, she wished much more work to be done on the implementation part. “The government needs to cut the red tape and the associated procedural delays to ensure efficient delivery of services promised under the heads of various policies,” she averred.
The Digital Rajasthan Yatra Journey Begins!
Dignitaries who flagged off the Digital Rajasthan Yatra includes: (a) Uday Shankar, Director (T), RISL (b) AM Deshpande, TD & JS, DoIT & C (c) Ravindra Shukla, MD, RKCL (d) Deepshikha Saxena, JD, DoIT & C. The aim of the project is to determine how the increased adoption of digital technologies is ushering in a new era of economic growth and prosperity in the state.
With this yatra, the Inc42 team looks forward to celebrating some of the major reforms implemented by the state to build a robust tech-enabled ecosystem that promotes entrepreneurial activities and ultimately drives economic growth and prosperity in the state.