The economically disadvantaged sections of society have very little access to government welfare schemes. Coupled with that comes a lack of 'know how'. This scenario is all set to change, thanks to a mobile technology platform, which is also a repository of trained facilitators that helps citizens avail benefits of both government and private schemes. The platform which has been doing the rounds since 2016 is a social enterprise appropriately titled HaqDarshak.
Aniket Deogar, CEO & Co-founder Director, HaqDarshak Empowerment Solutions Pvt. Ltd, a Bangalore-based tech-enabled social enterprise, gives a sneak peek into its rationale.
By Kavitha Srinivasa
What prompted you to focus on government and private welfare schemes? How does it work?
The lack of information about schemes in general on ground and a large amount of budgets allocated to schemes prompted us to work on a transparent and low-cost schemes delivery model.
HaqDarshak uses three products on the field. The first is a mobile app used by HaqDarshaks to create door-to-door awareness. A web portal, the second one is used majorly by our partners who offer Haqdarshak as one of their services. The third is a research platform used by the research team across India to upload scheme details that will be visible on the app and web portal.
The entire service is a multi-state and multi-lingual mobile technology platform that helps citizens discover, apply for, and benefit from government and private schemes that they are eligible for.
Who is a HaqDarshak?
The HaqDarshak is a community level entrepreneur and is someone from the community trained to spread the word among rural people. The HaqDarshak ensures community engagement, makes people aware of their rights and orients them towards schemes that will help improve their living conditions.
Till date, we have 2,500 HaqDarshaks or community representatives. We charge HaqDarshaks Rs 500 per month. There’s also a training on-boarding fee of 2,500 for the Hhaqdarshaks. The Haqdarshak earns Rs 3,500-Rs 5,000 on an average per month.
Women in rural India are more inclined towards entrepreneurship because it gives them the flexibility to work part time and yet it provides the much required social standing. Men are more inclined towards full time jobs as it offers better pay packs.
Can you run me through the operation network?
We are present in Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Haryana and are planning to scale up to 10+states across India. We have screened 25,000+ families, helped 5,000+ families through applications and submissions and over 1,000+ families have got direct benefits.
How have you been marketing the app? Do the rural people pay for using the app? Where does the revenue come from?
Local marketing happens through Gram Panchayats, besides newspaper ads. NGO alliances and other partnerships with a vast network also help in visibility. Revenue comes from the service and license fee.
Can you throw light on the technology involved? How does the app work, in simple terms?
The mobile and web platforms work on an AI rules engine on Android. There are a list of questions developed which once answered map to the database to tell the citizen the number of schemes they are eligible for and how they can go about applying for them.
What is the missing gap between the government schemes and rural India? Please give details?
There are so many schemes but the biggest gap is the lack of open information and mapping of eligibility.
How have you been addressing this problem? What are the challenging moments? Please can you share anecdotes?
We have built a mobile and web technology platform with a large database of schemes. These schemes are researched through partnerships with different governments and large NGO, trusts and corporate CSR organizations. The most challenging part is getting the right kind of partnership and then ensuring that we have the right partners to execute on ground and build a network.
Which is/are the most popular schemes & how many people have availed it? Please share insights of the ‘why’ & ‘how’ of it?
Social security schemes are most popular as they provide direct financial benefits to the citizens. However, the Government of India has allocated a sum of Rs 9 lakh crore in FY 16-17 to alleviate poverty, earmarked for over 1,000 welfare schemes.
Tell me something about your background.
Though I’m a commerce graduate, I began working in Teach for India, where I worked closely with municipal schools, which led me towards social issues. Later my stint in Gyan Prakash I saw housewives in rural India being trained as teachers in after-school centres. Guess it triggered off the idea of women entrepreneurs in HaqDarshaks. At Indus Action, I interacted with poor students and also saw families from low income groups, who struggle to enroll their children into schools. I somehow felt there must be government schemes to facilitate this section of society.
Somewhere along the line, I met Mayank Garg and was later joined by P R Ganapathy. We did pilot projects, and then with the support of CIIE and IIM Ahmedabad we launched HaqDarshak in July 2016 in Bangalore.
What are the forthcoming plans of HaqDarshak?
We have over 1,500 schemes in our database covering eight states so far and 100+ private schemes. By March 2018, we intend to have 5,000+ schemes, of which 1,000+ will be private schemes. Apart from this, we are also growing the franchise model and plan to have 200+ franchises at the block and district level by the end of this year.
We’ve signed up with Tata Trusts, NGOs and several state governments to reach out to more people and create 100,000HaqDarshaks across 10 states by March 2018. We will be extending our footprint into the Delhi-NCR region and Andhra Pradesh next month.
We’ve also signed up with PRADAN to spread into the regions of Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand. PRADAN an acronym for Professional Assistance for Development Action is a Civil Society Organization (CSO) that focuses on grassroots development with disadvantaged communities, specifically women.
Our vision is to generate Livelihood of over 500,000 and to take this figure to 250 cr per annum by December 2018.
HaqDarshak’s innovative approach has already won recognition. It is a Winner, ICT-led Social Innovation by Youth Innovators, Nasscom Social Innovation Forum, 2016, besides being the Top 10 finalist for Innovate for Digital India Challenge, 2015.