Thursday, September 21, 2023

This Shark Tank India S2 winner scores with its for-profit approach to social impact

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Shreya Christina
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  • Founded in 2016, Haqdarshak is a mobile and web platform that connects citizens to eligible government welfare schemes.
  • In six years, Haqdarshak claims to have contributed to the disbursement of more than ₹5,000 crore, serving nearly 25 lakh clients and 50,000 micro-enterprises.
  • Haqdarshak received joint offer of ₹1 crore for 2% equity from Judges Namita Thapar, Aman Gupta and Peyush Bansal.

The Indian government has many social benefit schemes for the underprivileged. However, a large proportion of intended beneficiaries are not aware of such schemes, and a majority of those who are aware are unable to access them due to roadblocks such as lack of documentation and inability to submit the documents.

In addition, many such beneficiaries of pension plans, scholarship plans, health insurance plans and others live in remote areas of this vast country. Bringing them into the fold by helping people with Aadhar cards; micro-SMEs with Udyog Aadhar; facilitating access to the widow’s pension and more are the pain points that a startup, Haqdarshak, wants to solve. It made its appearance Shark Tank India season 2 this week.

In 2016, Aniket Doegar, who is quite familiar with the countryside India through his work and interests, Haqdarshak started in Pune. It has positioned itself as a “next-gen, for-profit startup focused on social impact” and has a mobile and web platform. It progress to have served more than 25 lakh clients and 50,000 micro-enterprises and trained 25,000 agents.

Commission-based revenue model

Haqdarshak trains her agents to provide what she calls “last mile” assistance. Agents organize community meetings or go door-to-door to inform people of the available arrangements. They also help them to take advantage of the schemes.

An agent registers a family or individual on the Haqdarshak app and collects information about their housing conditions, income, religion, caste, etc. Once the questions (40-45) are answered, the app will share the number of eligible social benefits.

According to Doegar, the average number of schemes available to beneficiaries in rural India is between 50 and 55, while in urban India that number falls to 35-40. A customer will be charged a nominal amount of ₹50 rupees (excluding GST) as a service charge, which will be split between the agent and the company. An agent earns between ₹ 20,000 and ₹ 25,000 per month.

“In 2020-2021, multiple investors told us to transform the company into a fintech or edtech company, offering educational programs or loans. But our goal is to become India’s largest social security company in the next 10 years. These days, when Jyoti (one of the cops) goes to the community, they know she’s giving them something. This will change when she starts asking for money (for loans, etc.),” Doegar told the show.

In six years, Doegar alleged that Haqdarshak helped disburse ₹5,000 crore to the beneficiaries through social schemes. In May 2016, the startup raised ₹1.25 crore from angel investors at a valuation of ₹10 crore, and in May 2021 raised ₹6.65 crore in a pre-series A round.

‘Social impact and sales are rare’

Impressed by his clarity, product and vision, Lenskart co-founder Peyush Bansal made the first offer – ₹1 crore for 2% equity, valuing the company at ₹50 crore. ED Namita Thapar of Emcure Pharmaceuticals and boAt co-founder Aman Gupta have made a joint offer of ₹50 lakh for 1% equity; and ₹50 lakh debt at 10% interest rate, at the same valuation.

The founder sought a collective investment of ₹1 crore from all three sharks for 0.5% equity each. The sharks made it clear that they would not budge from the 2% equity.

In the end, the deal was closed for ₹1 crore, from the three sharks, for a total of 2% equity. While congratulating him, Thapar noted that it was rare for (social) impact and sales to come together like Haqdarshak.

The startup generated revenue of ₹15.5 crore in FY22 but suffered a loss for the first time since its inception as Covid forced them to halt operations for four months. It is believed that it will close FY23 with an annual revenue of ₹30 crore.

‘When a poor person visits a pension office’

Born and raised in Shimla, 33-year-old Doegar completed his undergraduate studies at Shri Ram College of Commerce in Delhi. After graduating in 2010, he worked at primary level for almost five years in various government schools in rural areas of Maharashtra, Delhi, Rajasthan and other states. He was also a Teach for India fellow from June 2010 to April 2012.

He soon realized that there was a lack of awareness about the government’s social services. “When people like you and me go to passport or visa centers, we are greeted with folded hands and people say, ‘Sir, your appointment is next.’ When a poor person visits the pension officer, he has to beg for the pension he is entitled to. Can we change this user behavior?” Doegar noted on the show.

The startup claims to have digitized nearly 7,500 government regulations on its platform. It provides help with multiple schemes, including the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana – which offers clean cooking alternatives such as Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) connections for BPL households; and Vishwakarma Shram Samman Yojana – the UP government’s plan to encourage self-employment among the state’s artisans.

In addition to people, it also works with companies to enroll their factory workers in government schemes. As of 2022, the startup has partnered with 110 companies representing nearly 10 million of their employees — and companies pay more than individuals.

Haqdarshak’s latest offering is a QR code-based “Yojana Card” that allows customers to view various government programs and request application support from Haqdarshak when needed. A customer can scan the QR code via a smartphone. In the absence of a smartphone, the customer can reach any Hadardshak center and scan the card.

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