Essmart is a last-mile distribution company for life-improving technologies, with a focus on clean cooking technologies. At its core, Essmart is committed to connecting mom-and-pop shops in rural India, and the end customers who they serve, to life-improving technologies. Essmart’s work has impacted over 110,000 people and improved the incomes of over 1,100 shops since 2012.
While there are many organizations developing products to meet essential needs, organizations working in the space between tech developers and users are sparsely populated. Technologies like clean cookstoves and fuels can only have life-improving potential if they are properly delivered, adopted, and serviced over time. Most end users in rural India lack reliable access to these durable and innovative technologies. While some products make their way out into villages, the means by which they are delivered are too commonly single events lacking in long-term education and after-sale support. This gap in the supply chain results in the failure of most life-improving products to realize their intended goals and improve the lives of end users.
Essmart bridges the supply chain gap by building an essential marketplace for life-improving technologies through collaboration with local retailers in rural India. Essmart’s team of Sales Executives drive on routes into rural villages and build relationships with local shops. They provide shop owners with education on life-improving products, physically delivering orders and facilitating after-sales service. Shop owners in turn supply their products to rural end users. Operations run with a proprietary logistics software and mobile application, enabling Essmart to efficiently and effectively manage the complexities of last-mile marketing, distribution, and after-sales service.
While Essmart maintains a diverse catalogue of essential and environmentally-friendly technologies, the majority of the products moved are kitchen and clean cooking technologies. The benefits of Essmart’s partnership with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves are wide-reaching and supportive of many aspects of Essmart’s mission. For example, grant from the Global Alliance’s Women’s Empowerment Fund enabled Essmart to test a training program specifically designed for women shop owners. This is a critical step in moving towards gender equity in the field. Gender-specific training will also continue to be a key part of future growth.
Training testing makes up a small part of the research conducted by Essmart. Not only does Essmart provide physical life-improving technologies, but Sales Executives work to close the information gap in the international development ecosystem. Over 90 percent of India’s retail spending occurs at local retail stores in rural India, which is the exact shop profile that Essmart services. India is the world’s fifth largest retail market, yet information about the technological needs, spending habits, and product preferences of rural Indians is inconsistent and incomplete.1 Better data on the needs and preferences of end customers can significantly increase the effectiveness of socially impact technologies, such as clean cookstoves.
Looking forward, Essmart is excited to expand operations to a second state in India, servicing more rural shop owners and end users. On-going collaboration with the Global Alliance provides a critical boost that underscores our focus on clean cooking solutions.
To learn more, please visit: www.essmart-global.com.
- India Brand Equity Foundation. (2017). Retail Industry in India. Retrieved September 22, 2017, from http://www.ibef.org/industry/retail-india.aspx