By Ravi Agarwal, Head – CSR, FAME
Kirana (Grocery) stores are a common sight, something which we see in every nook and corner of our streets. They form the backbone of the distribution of India’s food supply chain, providing the most important and essential food items to bustling cities and remote regions alike.
It is interesting to visualize the food supply chain starting from the farmers who produce the raw grains with their tremendous hard work, which are then collected by middlemen and further transformed, processed, and packaged into various food products by food product manufacturers. Interestingly, most of us fail to realize how several of these food products are transferred up from ground level to the city level and then returned back down to the villages in various colorful packets with higher prices tagged on them. Processing, packaging, and branding make such a big difference between the raw and finished product and simultaneously, between the consumer demand and pricing for the product.
The Role, Impact & Effort of Our Kirana Superstars:
Among the various food supply chain players, Kirana stores play a significant role in bringing the food products directly in the hands of the consumers but unfortunately they get the least recognition, name, fame, and money margin in the whole chain. Under FAME (Foundation for Advancement of Micro Enterprises), we analyzed various Kirana shops and the workload of a Kirana owner. We found that these micro enterprises put in exceptional efforts and are engaged in multiple aspects ranging from procurement of the product, stocking, shelving, displaying of the products to on counter sales, customer management, record keeping, tax filing, licensing, and much more. Most of these are done by a Kirana owner single-handedly or with the support of a helper who might assist in weighing, counting the goods, packaging, and handling the bills.
The FAME Findings:
In our study, we found that though local Kirana owners are able to make a reasonable sum of money as a monthly income, most of them are always stressed and suffer from an unhealthy work-life balance. Apart from finances, they are facing several challenges due to unorganized inventory, heavy workload, multi-tasking, and lack of family time.
With the changing times and advent of several online Kirana players, these micro enterprises need to adapt to the changing business ecosystem. Like it or not, they have to learn about new and modern ways and technology for organizing their stores, managing procurement, optimizing inventory, ensuring better display and store visibility, creating credit lines, and handy record-keeping, which will make their lives easy and comfortable.
The FAME Solution:
Based on the above findings, FAME has been engaging with several Kirana owners for their development and modernization. We have designed a unique theory of change model, and programs are being organized which will cater to the problems and solutions for a small Kirana owner. Currently, Kirana development programs are being organized in 2nd and 3rd tier cities with a focus on small retail Kirana owners and women-led Kirana stores. Targeted advice and suggestions are given on their specific challenges along with available solutions.
Kirana owners have shown positive interest in these kinds of programs specifically designed for them for the first time. They are optimistic that they will be able to get better organized, become techno-friendly, and create better business for themselves as well as create more employment opportunities in the community they serve in.