The Visionary

Belonging to Patna, Satyan came to Delhi for studies, with an aim to be part of something big.Sooner, Drishtee became a part of his life, through which he added value to rural India. Satyan Mishra,Co-Founder and Managing Director, Drishtee shares insights on the delivery model of Drishtee.
What is the behind-the scene story of Drishtee?I was looking for something which could really absorb my energy. And by the end of 1999, I got the opportunityto work for Gyandoot, a project funded by the MP government. This project was intended to develop a wellconnected computer network in the district. Our job was to strike good deals, and this was what we were good at.However, before the inauguration, we checked the server to find that it was not ready. The person who was supposed to do it, ran away. It was a moment of big crisis. So, we had to pitch in and make a very rudimentarysoftware. But, this gave me an opportunity to go to the villages and work with the people there. I realized thatit had a strong business model. In 2000, we started up officially. Several software companies merged withDrishtee, which became the prime focus.
What is the business model of Drishtee?Initially, the business model was very clear, where we were targeting entrepreneurs at village level. They werepurchasing computers to provide different kind of services. Each service had a different fee structure. Mostof them were governmentbased services. It was absolutely a village-oriented marketplace, where our work was commission based. We earned 50p commission for each Rs 1 transaction. This model lasted till 2003, when funding came into picture. Initially, we emphasized on general computer education in rural areas. Later on,we further focused on strengthening the structure for girls and women. We received a good response and grew as an organization.

Following this, we received serious investments from social venture funds for next six months. We focused ondevelopment of these villages. We realized that the villagers required basic amenities. By 2006, we had made ourprominence felt to a great extent. We aimed at changing the facilities from virtual ICT and information technology to technology-based services to a brick and mortar model. We looked into the need of community and grew up with the belief that by working as an R&D team we would help many businesses. However, the model, of offering services to grocery stores and other physical outlets, proved to be very much costly for us. We thought of continuing with it, but certain issues hampered our vision. We took an initiative to link entrepreneurs with bank, so that they could start their own enterprises. Our initial plan of partnership also helped us in a greater waybecause we realized the people at junior level always had an interest in displaying their caliber. They always want to make an impact. By 2014, we had a large network in several villages and in terms of financial viability, aswell as social performance, we were doing quite well.
How many categories of services you offer?There are primarily two categories of services offered by us. One of these is saving money for the welfare of thecommunity, such as banking, education, skilling services or services for retailers. It is targeted mostly at individuals and their families. Second category, includes income generating services aimed at livelihood generation. One of our business projects is Madhukrishi, wherein we help farmers tie-up.
On what grounds, do you select the people from villages whom you work and partner with?We have developed a business model called Swavlamban, which symbolizes the art of sustainability. This modelhas a dual approach. On one side, Drishtee has introduced supply chains, development of price by adding somecapital through banks, doing lots of capacity building and simultaneously we have also partnered with corporatehouses.
Do you work on franchising business model when you work with partners or entrepreneurs?
When we are working for savings services, we partner with the entrepreneurial families. In such a case, thebusiness model is mostly franchise. When it comes to micro-enterprises, the business model is more of a partnership which involves shareholding.
What kind of people do you partner with?Franchisees need different skills when they are working with us. We offer various computer education programs.But, currently, we are totally focused on evaluation system of franchisee, as it is important for entire valuesystem of Drishti and our own vision. We have small selection criteria but it varies on the type of entrepreneurs.But, we are not looking out for the richest person in the village. We focus on married women, who can stay in thevillage and contribute to the welfare of other women.
Are you planning to expand the network in future?Yes, we are in consolidation mode. There was not much growth from 2006 onwards, as the network was notmuch, we were not much into consolidation. From 2014 onwards, we have started witnessing growth and are looking ahead to expand our presence. We have started our operations in Bengal, Gujarat, Maharashtra, MadhyaPradesh, close to Bangalore and entire Karnataka. We are partially present in Rajasthan and Haryana.But, there is no presence in Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir. Is international expansion on cards? Yes, we expanded to Africa and it was successful. But, it was more like providing consulting services of tele-net services over there. In Eastern Africa, we got a good response. We even covered Rawanda, Sudan and Kenya. But,none of them would look for expansion due to the periphery.
(The article had first appeared in the October issue of the Entrepreneur India Magazine)

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