Next time when you visit Patna and come across rickshaw pullers dressed in red and black attire, their rickshaws adorned with beautiful, huge advertisements, make sure to take a ride. They are members of a start-up based in Patna, known as the SammaaN Foundation.
Let’s Know About It
The start-up began in 2007, and the objective was to bring the rickshaw pullers out of poverty and make their lives easy. Their main idea was to make the rickshaw pullers financially and socially empowered and, as their name suggests, give them the Sammaan (dignity and respect) they deserve.
According to the founder, Irfan Alam, his foundation believes, “Every person is able to lead their life with dignity and pride while respecting others in the society.” He also said, “Our efforts have brought about significant value additions to Govt. policies laid down for the unorganized working communities. Since then Sammaan has been working with marginalized sections of the society with thrust on sustainable livelihoods, community mobilization and participatory management.”
The vision of this start-up revolves around providing a meaningful understanding of the community to the people, motivating their social inclusion, bettering the lives of the rickshaw pullers, and generating income to assist them in leading a better, meaningful life.
How It All Began?
It was in 2007 when Irfan’s mind was struck by an innovative idea that would benefit him as well as the rickshaw pullers in Patna. Back then, he was studying in IIT-Kanpur. Two members joined his team and they both helped Irfan in designing comfortable rickshaws and later, which were then provided to the rickshaw pullers.
This venture that was kick-started in Patna soon spread amongst 30 other cities of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Jharkhand.
Other than earning from ads, they also perform other services such as providing people soft drinks, newspapers, mobile recharge, courier collection, and even first aid to people who get injured.
A Patna-based rickshaw puller, Rajiv Kumar said, “Earlier, I could hardly make Rs 150-200 per day. I joined SammaaN three years ago and now earn twice as much. I can now conveniently pay the EMI for the rickshaw loan.”
The start-up has been favorable for the rickshaw pullers. Earlier they used to sleep in night shelters. However, now they can rent rooms to live with their families and have bank accounts and medical insurance as well.
How Do They Do It?
The start-up does it through advertising and commerce. Isn’t that an interesting way? Advertisements of Vodafone Essar Ltd, Idea cellular Ltd, etc. are placed on the rickshaws and it provides them with additional income.
They get a fee from the ads and also get one-third of the money made by the foundation through selling products.
In one of the interviews with Mint, Irfan said, “I thought there was a huge potential in using them (rickshaws) as an interactive out-of-home advertising medium and a marketing engine-cum-transaction point.”
As soon as the rickshaw pullers become members of the Sammaan Foundation, the team of the start-up renovates their rickshaws and provides them with uniforms. The rickshaw pullers generally earned around Rs. 100 to 200 a day.
Whereas, after becoming members of the foundation, Alam says, “The earnings of these people have gone up by as much as 40%.” Alam proudly says, “You will soon find them approaching banks for loans to finance television sets, refrigerators, and other products.”
Alam now plans to take his venture further. Though it won’t be a cakewalk, his determination to change their lives will definitely make it all happen.
Image Source: Google
Connect with the blogger: Palak Dogra
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