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eSARAS: India’s Digital Platform for Rural Artisans

Image credit: MoRD_GoI; Twitter
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To enhance the marketing assistance provided to products created by women belonging to Self-help Groups (SHGs), the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojna- National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) has introduced the eSARAS mobile app. This app will contribute to the existing e-commerce efforts aimed at promoting and selling SHG-produced goods.

The eSARAS mobile app, designed as an e-commerce platform, aims to serve as a highly effective marketing tool for the products. This initiative was developed by the DAY-NRLM, under the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD), and it focuses on promoting and marketing authentic handicrafts and handlooms. The eSARAS app will provide a robust platform to showcase and sell these products to a wider audience.

DAY-NRLM is a flagship programme aimed at reducing poverty. Its core objective is to empower the marginalised, especially women, by establishing robust institutions and facilitating their access to a diverse range of financial services and livelihood opportunities.

The app was launched last week by Shailesh Kumar Singh, Secretary of the Ministry of Rural Development. Additionally, Singh inaugurated the eSARAS Fulfillment Centre located at the Ministry’s Janakpuri office in New Delhi.

A not-for-profit company, established through a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Rural Development and a private player, will be responsible for managing the eSARAS fulfillment centre. This facility will be used for various operations such as the processing, packaging, and shipping of products that customers buy through the eSARAS portal and eSARAS mobile app. The fulfillment centre will handle the logistics involved in delivering online orders directly to customers’ doorsteps.

During the launch of the app, Singh emphasised that it is an initiative that further promotes the “Vocal for Local” movement by facilitating the easier marketing of products crafted by self-help group members. He mentioned that the Ministry’s goal is to ensure that each household belonging to an SHG has access to 2-3 livelihood sources. One significant aspect of creating alternative livelihoods for the impoverished is through non-farm enterprises. Enhancing market linkages for SHG products is a key intervention in non-farm livelihoods. With the introduction of the eSARAS mobile app, the handmade products made by SHG members are now readily available to a larger customer base in a more user-friendly manner, accessible at everyone’s fingertips.

Charanjit Singh, Additional Secretary, Rural Livelihoods, welcomed the Secretary at the event and provided him with an overview of DAY-NRLM’s marketing initiatives. He highlighted that DAY-NRLM follows a comprehensive 360-degree approach to marketing, which includes online and offline strategies. Online marketing initiatives are the eSARAS app and portal. Offline projects include organising on-ground events like SARAS Fair and Saras Food Festivals. Furthermore, the cross-promotion of activities between the two modes ensures a cohesive and integrated marketing strategy for the products.

The Director of Rural Livelihoods expressed that the support offered by DAY-NRLM, including initiatives like these, has received great appreciation from grassroots-level SHGs nationwide. A representative from the not-for-profit affirmed that the company will collaborate with partners to maximise the benefits of this enhanced e-commerce boost provided by the app. The event witnessed the presence of senior officers from the Ministry, along with delegates representing partner organisations.


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