The last year has been unlike any we’ve ever known!
From feeling like the bottom had fallen out from under us, to learning how to navigate
Udhyam Vyapaar started out 3 years ago, to help nano-entrepreneurs scale & succeed. To that
end we had tried various engagements and learnt what worked and what didn’t. We were poised
on the brink of scale for
a few of our interventions, but unfortunately, that was
when we were buffeted by the gale force wind that was
In the blink of an eye entire livelihoods were destroyed, and our audience, the vyapaaris,
were almost uniformly struggling to fulfill their basic needs.
We had to take our eyes off the long term and get into solving for their immediate needs.
From ration drives, to raising funds so as to do Direct Benefit Transfers, we focused on
what needed to be done in the moment.
Even as the nation emerged out of the lockdown, it was anything but smooth sailing for these
entrepreneurs. Their meagre savings had been wiped out, and they had no funds to start
afresh. Access to capital was what they most required, so we went about creating a model
that provided access to business restarter capital, coupled with training & consulting, so
they might reestablish their livelihoods.
A highlight here for us was the fact that this business restarter project, was the first
externally funded project at Udhyam.
Internally too we had lot to deal with and a lot
of unlearning & relearning to do, as wave after wave
buffeted us all!
Our product intervention, the LPG based iron box, was proven to improve productivity,
increase income & improve vyapaari health. However, since the ironing business was all but
wiped out for a large part of the year, we were forced to shelve our plans to orchestrate
this market transformation.
While our mindset training pieces were delivering great impact, all our sessions had
hitherto been face to face.
How then were we to navigate this ‘new normal’?
Vyapaaris would not be able to manage video calls and zoom, would they?
We were forced to unlearn a lot of what we knew and challenge both ourselves as well as our
vyapaaris, and sure enough, today, we are aggressively chasing online facilitator based
training programs with great vigour.
Of course, not all of it has been smooth sailing!
We’ve struggled with creating self learning modules
that work for our audience base.
Building out a model that enables access to credit at scale, is still a distance away on the
horizon. We’ve lost precious time on the conversion to LPG based ironing.
But then again, we’ve also learnt much and created much value, while figuring what it takes
to weather a storm of the calibre of the one we’ve all been through over the last one year!