Bengaluru: Sometimes even NGOs and local craftsmen need some help to become self-sufficient. Prasanna Kumar Shirol, who is also the co-founder of Organization for Rare Diseases in India (ORDI), and his friend Ranjith K.H. have started a social enterprise that helps give that extra nudge to NGOs, craftsmen, farmers and women in villages. “During my work with ORDI, I came in touch with many NGOs and people who often lamented that they cannot expand because of various logistic issues, including funding. It was then I and my friend decided that we could create an online platform that could help them reach out to a larger audience,” says Prasanna, co-founder of Shop4reason - a website that helps display products made by local craftsmen, farmers and others. “Apart from the online store, we also opened an organic store in Malleswaram to help local farmers and women from villages in and around Malleswaram. At this store, we sell products from Shop4reason and others made at home,” says Prasanna.
Currently, his website, which was started a year ago, sells some 600 products of around 80-90 vendors, including many NGOs. “Since the rolling out of the website and the organic store at Malleswaram, the response has been good and it made us realise that people are also conscious and aware, and do want to try such products,” says Prasanna, who has mapped more vendors to help them expand their customer base soon. “The selling price is decided by the vendors and we have no say in it. It is just that we help them with the platform and help them make bigger profit margins. We do charge a minute sum for the maintenance of the website,” he explains.
“The mission is to support special communities and individuals with the power of an e-market and to make special communities, like NGO, self-help groups and special individuals, use the shop4reason e-market platform to sell their products and services to raise funds for their respective cause,” he says. The platform helps provide the e-marketplace for all NGO, self-help groups, special individuals or anyone with a reason to sell their products and raise funds for their cause. It also gives an opportunity for customers to purchase these products.
“It helps empower NGOs with technology and other support services to maximise their efficiency in raising funds,” he explains.
Apart from organic to homemade products, there is also an option for customers to buy handmade jewellery, jute bags, stationery products and also handmade art, bamboo products, and other crafts.
“We have had a huge response and the website has also helped vendors reach out to a bigger audience,” says Prasanna. However, the journey has not been smooth. “There are occasional hiccups in running an enterprise such as this. Recently, we had issues when the GST rule came in and then there were packaging issues which slowed down the whole process. We have sorted the GST issue. We have a long way to go, but we are positive about the growth of each and every vendor,” sums up Prasanna....