While the rural economy has always been the primary producer (especially agricultural commodities) and a large consuming base – this inflow and outflow have always been through multiple intermediaries.
With the retail revolution and the advances in physical logistics and rural reach many channels for direct procurement of rural produce have opened up. Many companies are beginning to leverage this and establish relationships directly with farmers and other farm produce groups.
Similarly many consumer goods manufacturers are now focusing on these rural markets. They have begun to bypass traditional wholesale channels and directly sell to the rural communities.
Rural self help groups have played a significant role in creating these inroads. This traditional micro-credit delivery model offers potential as a supply chain channel – for both procurement and sales.
This scenario, therefore, calls for deploying innovative business models and delivery mechanisms that benefit both manufacturers as well as the rural populations.
However, to operationalize an efficient rural supply chain poses significant challenges. These include
- High transaction costs
- Inadequate collection & payment mechanisms
- Absence of reliable and cost effective physical logistics arrangements
- Stickiness in breaking away from current intermediaries
The role of technology
Innovative use of technology can facilitate such a rural supply chain. The technology needs to be cost effective, deployable in a rural environment and easy to use
Key technology enablers that have made this possible include
GANASEVA as a solution
- The Internet as an ubiquitous and cost effective medium of communication
- Pervasive and affordable computing in low cost PC infrastructure that can be set up at kiosks
- Handheld & Mobile Devices – both higher end PDAs as well as very affordable mobile phones
- Smart Cards & Biometrics – that can provide unique identification as well as store key data on a personal basis
GANASEVA offers a flexible and scaleable platform that can deliver such an e-enabled supply chain.
- Flexible Application Framework
Innovative business models to address this segment need a solution suite that can be easily configured to meet the needs of multiple business models. Also this area will call for significant experimentation and evolution on the field, which in turn will require rapid and iterative refinement of the solution. The GANASEVA framework is flexible and well suited for these evolving needs.
- Robust and integrated platform
As a platform designed for financial processes, robustness and transactional integrity is at the heart of the GANASEVA solution.
- Adaptability to multiple deployment methods
Deployment of a solution suite will require it being adapted to multiple platforms. For example, an end solution could be a PC connected to the Internet in the village, a mobile phone , a hand-held PDA – or any combination of these and other devices most appropriate in the said geography. GANASEVA as a platform can be easily ported onto any of these devices
With this robust, flexible and scaleable IT platform, multiple supply chain models can be supported.
Some possibilities are:
- A key stakeholder in the village becomes a hub for operations. Basic infrastructure in terms of kiosks is established and this becomes the hub for commerce in addition to being an information source to access rich and relevant content.
- Hand held terminals or PDAs can be used to aid procurement operations. These could include recording and computing quality parameters of the produce, maintaining accounts and disbursing payments through smart cash cards
- Applications enabled on mobile phones or PDAs can help in efficient ordering of products into the village. Here again smart cards could become the medium of payments / collections
- Loyalty programs and schemes can be built into the selling applications to promote purchase of products
With GANASEVA, all of these options can be easily configured and implemented to establish a robust platform to support such rural channels.