Bluerickshaw helping SMEs to survive and revive
Spotlight | DC Correspondent
Bluerickshaw is not only a platform for selling handcrafted products, but also brings out the journey of each products' creation
Akshay Wadhwa, CEO, BlueRickshaw.
BlueRickhsaw.com (BR), a highly-curated B2B export platform launched in March 2021 connecting verified SMEs across India to small and mid-size businesses in North America, all in an effort to provide a seamless sourcing experience without going through the hectic procedure of logistic compliances & documentation for exports.
Bluerickshaw was launched by fashion designer-turned-tech-entrepreneur Akshay Wadhwa along with co-founder Krishan B Chandak. Krishan is also the CTO of the company and has over 23 years of experience in the IT industry and the Indian startup ecosystem. He is credited with developing the first flight information display system (FIDS) which is being used by the Airports Authority of India.
1. Describe a little bit about the motivation and founding of BlueRickshaw
BlueRickshaw is created to help small sellers of India get easy and direct access to a large pool of international buyers, thereby creating opportunities for the Indian market.
In India, which has a rich cultural heritage, the arts and crafts can contribute significantly to the national economy and in raising the standard of living. However, that can happen only if manufacturers & small enterprises are confident and self-reliant, and are given the chance to innovate. By eliminating the hassles of sourcing internationally, the platform makes sourcing sustainable, easy, transparent, and trackable while practicing fair trade & ethical sourcing.
2. How does BlueRickshaw work?
BlueRickshaw provides small to midsize businesses of North America a credible channel to source products directly from Indian sellers and avoids delays, miscommunication, and regulatory issues. The company onboards a seller after assessing the quality of products, market viability, price, and the minimum order quantity they can supply.
The platform allows sellers to upload their products, manage orders and negotiate with buyers. For buyers, it ensures access to thousands of sustainable, eco-friendly & ethically sourced products in multiple categories with the least minimum order quantities.
3. What are some of the key challenges in launching and maintaining this online marketplace?
Increasing awareness will be the initial challenge we face. Introducing the online public to the beauty of handmade Indian crafts & potential of small businesses will be our first goal. Subsequently, we will need to constantly challenge ourselves to bring to the marketplace unique and exclusive products that have never been seen by the US consumer.
4. Why should we support local and small businesses?
India is home to around 65 million small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs), which contribute to 11% of GDP, 45% of total manufacturing output and provide employment opportunities for more than 100 million people.
Small enterprises offer customised solutions for local issues and they are the heart of the local community. They play a crucial role in supporting large enterprises as ancillary units and even help in promoting industry in rural & backward areas.
As per the data, the small business segment in India creates 1.3 million jobs every year. It contributes to the largest share of employment in the country after agriculture.
India can quickly recover economically and socially from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic by deepening support for small businesses. We have to encourage people to eat local and shop local. If we are to buy some products or services, it is best to do so in our hometown.
Investing in the crafts sector offers tremendous opportunities to improve the economic, environmental, and social conditions of rural communities, by tapping into the global market, the environmental benefit of low polluting industries, and the economic and social empowerment of many rural households.
5. How does Bluerickshaw tackle the COVID-19 pandemic challenge?
Launching a business when companies across the world were suffering due to a global pandemic might not have been wise, but we managed to make it work. We opened when the second lockdown was in full swing and almost every city was shut. While we started receiving orders from countries like Canada and the US, most of our suppliers weren't operating, and managing logistics were tricky. Logistics costs went up by 5X due to limited international flights.
The team got in touch with flights ferrying ex-pats and international citizens from India to Canada and the US. The plan worked and we started taking more orders. We helped our suppliers get the required permissions to start operations while following safety guidelines.
6. What are some of the key opportunities?
The key opportunity in India is to make a significant and measurable impact on Indian SMEs by creating a sustainable marketplace that empowers them to preserve their artistic traditions for future generations. From a consumer perspective, there are multiple opportunities to make a difference by getting involved in the preservation of these SMEs by buying their products, lending to the artisans, or by joining the Bluerickshaw outreach team and getting involved on a grassroots level.
7. The road ahead for Bluerickshaw?
Combining industry experience in fashion, design and manufacturing with technology, Bluerickshaw is leveraging its expertise to build a platform that solves challenges faced by both buyers and sellers. Over the next few years, Bluerickshaw would be building a SaaS platform that offers end-to-end buying solutions for retailers while empowering marginal sellers. We also want to create a B2B2C channel where retailers in North America work with an inventory-less model.
Disclaimer: No Deccan Chronicle journalist was involved in creating this content. The group also takes no responsibility for this content.