Rural-Tech Startups Frontier Markets, Hesa and 1Bridge forms Rural Access Coalition
Frontier Markets, HESA and 1Bridge has announced the formation of a coalition to address the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic in the rural sector. With a collective of 30 years of experience in rural India, the coalition aims to raise $8mn to ensure employment, awareness and accessibility to 1 million rural households in 6,000 villages across 4 states in India. The mission of the coalition is to support rural families to become Covid resilient, while contributing to job creation and economic resilience in rural India.
The Rural Access Coalition for COVID-19 Resilience is composed of rural supply chain companies, grassroots organizations and ecosystem enablers in a joint coalition effort to uplift the depreciating lifestyle and infrastructure in rural India, which is a result of the global pandemic. Opening its platform to donors, ecosystem enablers, experts and practitioners to help deliver to the rural population at scale, the coalition has partnered with Armman and Noora Health for Covid-19 & maternal-related information, training and services, which will be accompanied with Raksha Kits (PPE kits and supplies) by 1MG to provide access to equipment to every rural household. The participation also includes ecosystem enablers Sattva Consulting and United Way Delhi alongside Head Held High Foundation and BASIX-BABLE for capacity building.
A recent report by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) revealed over 52% deaths in the total mortality rate account for covid whereas nearly 3 million salaried employees lost their jobs. The coalition will help in Covid resilience and create employment opportunities in the rural sector. Together, Frontier Markets, Hesa and 1Bridge have an army of 30,000+ micro level entrepreneurs who will execute this mission on ground to ensure access to everyday essentials without disruption to daily lives. The coalition will maximise a deep-rooted impact with a holistic approach by amplifying the sustainable development goals of gender equality, employment, improved infrastructure and better livelihood in rural India.
The primary focus of Covid-19 resilience will be achieved through a strategic approach:
- Providing credible knowledge to rural communities through an on-ground network of entrepreneurs using various mediums will build COVID-19 awareness and relief measures.
- Adequate access to essential deliveries including consumer goods, PPE kits, masks and more.
- Training and camps with healthcare organisations will ensure critical health care services including relief guidelines and measures.
Leveraging their convening power, the network of entrepreneurs have already been helping people with vaccine and covid measures.
Commenting on the same, Ajaita Shah Founder and CEO Frontier Markets said “The Rural Access Coalition is the first of its kind – FM is proud to be driving this initiative, and honored to work alongside such great founders; it will help overcome the grass root level challenges in rural India directly, and quickly.. Rural customers/families suffer the most as they are deprived of resources despite big companies coming forward. Our contribution will be a massive needed gender lens – as Frontier Markets’ entire 10,000 Saheli network will connect deeply to amplify the gender-based health needs of the community alongside accessibility, economic development and opportunities. We have responded to the needs of our community from demonetization to climate change, so health is the next obvious requirement; partnering with colleagues, only reinforces a common goal towards elevating our mission to simplify rural lives for a better livelihood at scale.”
Launching this coalition, Madan Padaki, Founder & CEO, 1Bridge said “Access, Choice and Convenience has always been a challenge for rural consumers across products & services and 1Bridge has been systematically addressing these challenges through its village commerce network of entrepreneurs. With the onslaught of the pandemic, it is now critical to solve for these from a healthcare perspective, where we can deliver care & supplies right at the doorsteps of rural consumers while generating new models of economic opportunities for entrepreneurs. We look forward to being a part of this Rural Access Coalition and working together to mitigate the COVID-19 crisis in rural India.”
“We strive to largely empower rural India by enabling accessibility, availability, connectivity and providing business and earning opportunities, all rolled under one platform. Amidst the pandemic, we have been addressing various challenges across the rural sector through our initiatives with the aim of providing better livelihoods. With our strong network of over 7000 Hesaathis across Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, we have been able to provide physical, digital and social connectivity to rural communities and bridge the urban-rural gap in India. We look forward to making rural communities become Covid resilient with this coalition.’’ added Vamsi Udayagiri, Co-Founder and CEO Hesa.
Social businesses Frontier Markets, Hesa and 1Bridge thriving in rural India are building resistance and strengthening the pillar of support in rural India impacting thousands in their respective geographies. Frontier Markets, which is a women-led social enterprise, has been working with rural communities for 10 years adapting its products and services to respond to evolving consumer needs and disruptive challenges on the ground with a strong network of 10,000 Sahelis (Saral Jeevan Sahelis) in North India. Similarly, 1Bridge has been operating across 6000+ villages predominantly within Southern India, empowering 7000+ rural entrepreneurs or 1Bridge Advisors (1BAs) not just by providing additional employment opportunities, but also strengthening their social capital as trusted advisors to community folks in their villages.