Essmart Global

Giving rural retail shops access to products that improve their customers' lives


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IN India

In development

About the project Edit

Around the world, people live with basic needs: lighting, non-polluted indoor environments and clean water. Organizations are already designing essential technologies to meet these needs. For example, LED solar lanterns that enable children to study longer, improved cookstoves that reduce air pollution, and water filters that limit disease.

However, households are not benefiting from these essential technologies. Marketing, distribution and after-sales service are difficult to establish and operate in low income, remote areas.

Meanwhile, there are millions of small, family-owned local retail shops in these areas who currently sell fast-moving consumable goods, such as soaps and sweets. However, households cannot purchase essential technologies at these retail stores because the local shops don’t know about these technologies, how to get them or how to service them.

Essmart offers a solution: Fill the gap between essential technologies and households via the local retail shops where households do their other retail spending.

Essmart is involved primarily in three activities with local shops:

Demonstrate: Essmart vets and aggregates a diverse array of high-quality essential technologies into a catalogue. When Essmart enters a new geographical area, its sales agents work with local retail shops to conduct in-store demonstrations.

Distribute: After demand is established, Essmart switches to a traditional hub-and-spoke distribution model. Essmart incentivizes shop owners to stock its catalogues and demonstration products. Deliveries are made on a scheduled basis or shop owners can pick up technologies at Essmart’s warehouse.

Guarantee: If or when technologies fail, households can return them to the rural retail shops. At the moment, Essmart sources only technologies with manufacturers warranties and will facilitate product replacement through them.


In what ways is this project unique and creative? Edit

Essmart aims to bridge the gap between socially innovative technologies and the public. Too often technologies exist, but are just not available to those who need them most.

What is the social value of this project? Edit

What is the potential of this project to expand and develop? Edit

Essmart won the Dell Social Innovation Competition in 2012 and the MIT IDEAS Global Challenge. It provided funds to kickstart the project.

What was the triggering factor of this project? Edit

What is the business model of this project? Edit

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