Sahaj Retail Ltd, which provides IT infrastructure through its phygital outlets in rural markets, is looking to expand its network by setting up close to two lakh outlets by the end of 2022. Plans are also afoot to roll out more products and services on its platform to benefit rural customers.

The company, which offers e-learning, healthcare, financial and a host of other G2C (government to consumer) and B2C (business to consumer) services in rural villages, currently has close to 1.5 lakh service centres across 23 States.

According to Amit Kumar Singh, CEO, Sahaj, the company, which was earlier largely focused on the G2C business, realigned the business model and turned EBITDA-positive in 2019-20. It grew exponentially in FY-21 because of its unique service offering and value propositions.

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“We are among the largest distributors of products and services in rural India. We want to further scale up our presence by setting up our outlets across 30 States and adding close to two lakh service centres by 2022. We are planning to go deeper in south and western markets apart from strengthening our presence in existing markets,” Singh told BusinessLine .

Scaling up offerings

Sahaj provides a range of services in rural geographies, including banking and financial services such as microinsurance, education and healthcare in addition to the government to citizen services.

It recently tied up with Zee5 OTT platform to cater to the entertainment needs of the underserved rural market. ZEE5 will design a special ‘Chhota’ pack for Sahaj customers offering 10 per cent discount on its premium subscription.

It also provides a bouquet of products and services, including e-learning, travel bookings and utility bill payments, among others.

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The company is exploring the possibility of introducing telemedicine services in Sahaj centres, where rural citizens can get medical advice from a list of empanelled doctors located across the country.

“We are working on few lines of businesses. We will strengthen our partnership (by tying up with more companies) and we want to grow more and more products and services so as to be able to cater to the needs of rural India,” he said.

Sahaj would make it easy for the partner brands to access rural market quickly and efficiently through plug-and-play model.

The service centres are operated by village-level entrepreneur ‘Sahaj Mitr’. In the pandemic situation, Sahaj has been acting as a catalyst enabling rural people with livelihood opportunity by becoming Sahaj Mitr, he added.

Facilitating rural vaccination drive

Sahaj centres have also been facilitating the vaccination drive in rural areas by creating awareness and helping people register on the Co-WIN platform. Out of the 1.5 lakh service centres, more than 30,000 centres have been actively facilitating Covid vaccination, especially in States such as UP, West Bengal, Bihar and Odisha.

More than 150 million rural citizens have access to these centres. “We have been training Sahaj Mitrs to help registration on Co-WIN platform, educate local communities about the benefits of vaccination and facilitate vaccination in remote geographies,” he said.