Due to the ongoing pandemic, many have been prompted by job loss and reverse migration. To cope up with the loss, many of blue-and-grey collared workers have started their own business in tier II and tier III cities. This has increased the number of startups catering to the new segment which is backed by Y Combinator and Sequoia Capital.
Apna which is a recruitment platform for the grey and blue-collar jobs, Lokal which is a hyperlocal news and classifieds platform, Aiisma which is a data marketplace app and ReadyAssist which is roadside assistance startup are all included.
Their aim is to upskill and reskill the newbies of micropreneurs across some states such as Telangana, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu. They hope to become the helping hand for the new breed entrepreneurs to understand business dynamics, soft skills like marketing and communication as well as community and distribution networks.
Apna has approximately 60 skill-based vertical groups or communities that assist workers such as plumbers or electricians who wish to start their own business as well as help them to learn about various market opportunities after setting up the business.
Pune-based Kishore Patra, 36, who worked in a company for about 20 years. He recently lost his job after the closure of the company. Patra slowly took a turn towards business. It also included the one which dealt with eco-friendly pencils wherein it used Apna to hire around 200 people for the business from February. To the Apna peer groups, the skills and jovial personality of people that Patra had, made him an influencer which inspired to launch his own YouTube channel, ApnaBizPandit.
“On the app, inter-vertical skills are quite common, which otherwise is difficult to see in the real world as these people do not cross paths. This helps these informal workers expand their services and assist each other to provide business leads, share their challenges and communicate,” said the head of Apna, Nirmit Parikh. Apna has received funding of nearly $2 million from Sequoia Capital and Lightspeed Venture Capital.
To build their distribution networks, micro-entrepreneurs use the hyperlocal news and classifieds platform, Lokal. In November 2019, Lokal has raised $3 million in seed funding from Y Combinator and others. Lokal is currently available in Telugu, Tamil, and Hindi.
An executive said, “Through Lokal Ganesh who is a small-time seller from Warangal found delivery personnel to ship 1,500 hearing aid devices to others and his community.” The executive added, “We have helped facilitate the sale of vegetables, homemade ornaments, and even a goat in Tamil Nadu.”
Most of the sellers are new to the business world and all infrastructural challenges and that’s where Lokal comes into the picture. “Many of them are private employees who have started selling essentials as they have not been paid salaries during the lockdown. More than 90% of local MSMEs have been adversely affected. Local beauty parlours and saloons are now selling and delivery beauty packages to sustain their income,” said co-founder of Lokal, Jani Pasha.