The Last-mile for Rural-Urban (Ruban) India

The hinterlands in India consist of about 650,000 villages. These villages are inhabited by about 850 million consumers making up for about 70% of population and contributing around half of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Consumption patterns in these rural areas are gradually changing to increasingly resemble the consumption patterns of urban areas. However, the biggest challenge for these rural consumers is availability of quality products and services at the right price.

RubanBridge, a rural last mile services company saw the opportunity to develop and design a model that connects these rural consumers with other rural and urban suppliers through an assisted-commerce platform. The model doesn’t work like any other e-commerce players as the products and services are curated and brought on the platform, based on demands of the rural consumers through a network of local entrepreneurs. The model also connects hyper-local suppliers with rural consumers and hence the rural businesses get an opportunity to flourish beyond geographical boundaries. For example, a cottage industry or a MSME in a rural location can sell through the model to other rural markets directly. The rural consumers on the other hand get access to quality products and service at a right price at their doorsteps itself, which leads to savings on expenses that a rural consumer incurred in accessing these services.

Currently the company is focusing on Retail (e-Commerce and other consumer durables   products) and Healthcare (eye care) products but plans to expand the product catalogue to sectors like agriculture, education, healthcare services, financial services, etc. through strategic partnerships in the coming years. The model is completely focused on serving rural consumers including BoP population and hence wants to gradually include products and services that are relevant to, and demanded by the rural population.

It is estimated that India has to absorb 115mn youths in the next 10 years as per a recent McKinsey report. The organized sector which can provide careers (not just livelihoods) to these youths can never absorb all of them. Therefore the need of the hour is to create an army of youth who can be job creators and that too mainly in the rural India. This is exactly what RubanBridge is trying to do in the rural India by connecting the aspirations of the rural population with urban India through local youth as entrepreneurs.

With the equity investment from ICCO Investments, RubanBridge has the potential to create more than 15,000 employment opportunities by the end of five years including more than 10,000 micro entrepreneurs who might in turn recruit people at the village level. Over the next five years these micro entrepreneurs could see a growth of 250% in their income levels due to higher transaction volume.

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