Ehsaas

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Ehsaas

Gainesville, IndiaGainesville, United States
Organization type: 
hybrid
Project Stage:
Idea
Budget: 
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Ehsaas will connect artisans and craftsmen in rural areas with affluent international markets through an online storefront to enhance revenue,  and thereby empower producers to create positive change in communities by pursuing highly-focused projects decided upon by their beneficiaries.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if artisans in the developing world could earn fair wages while lifting their communities out of poverty?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The current state of artisans in India is dire, as rural craftsmen are faced with the double threat of dealing with predatory middlemen to get their goods to market, and once there, extensive competition from factory-made goods. This results in the exploitation of workers struggling to maintain a cultural, artisanal identity and the depression of their earning potential results in the abandonment of their community and further impoverishment.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Ehsaas will allow artisans to sell their goods online to the American market where Indian styles are in vogue, and hand-crafted items command a premium. In exchange for this market access, artisans will pledge to have a portion of their income redirected to a community project. Too often, community aid projects fail because they do not adequately address local priorities, complementary long-term resources, and maintenance costs. A significant portion of revenues will be dedicated to developing trade and vocational skills, and for pursuing community-selected public projects, in order to provide a sense of ownership and long-term stewardship crucial for the success of these projects and the long-term betterment of the artisanal community.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Ehsaas will identify an artisanal community creating goods that could be effectively sold in Western markets. Upon identification, recruitment of artisans will begin and they will be provided an opportunity to vote on a community project they deem necessary, and will decide upon a per item profit percentage to devote to the project. Ehsaas will market items online by community and individual stories, fostering an emotional and unique experiential bond between buyer and seller. The per item profit will be used by Ehsaas to work with local contractors and NGOs to complete the community project. Overall, this will increase artisan incomes, provide a community with a benefit they need, and create an unmatched customer experience.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Functioning as a for-profit, Ehsaas will need a significant amount of capital to begin. Once work has begun, two methodologies for financial sustainability are possible. The main pipeline of artisanal goods will follow a proposed 50-30-20 per item profit split, 50 for the artisan, 30 for the project, and 20 for Ehsaas. Ehsaas will supplement this by creating a high end apparel/accessory line to pursue higher margins ensuring operations.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

NOVICA, Bottica.com, Lallitara
Team

Founding Story

Christmas shopping after a trip to India and saw Made in India goods sold for much more than they would be sold in India.
About You
Organization:
Ehsaas
About You
First Name

Nishant

Last Name

Srivastava

LinkedIn URL
About Your Organization
Organization Name

Ehsaas

Organization Country

, Gainesville

Country where this project is creating social impact

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Impact
Full Impact Potential: What are the main spread strategies moving forward? (Please consider geographic spread, policy reform, and independent replication/adoption of the idea or other mechanisms.)
Barriers: What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?
Sustainability
Partnerships: Tell us about your partnerships.

Will focus on creating a powerful brand, then leveraging that brand into partnerships with non-profits as well as with local on-the-ground partners. For example, should an artisanal community demand better access to clean water as their community project, Ehsaas will attempt to work with charity:water to tap into their drilling expertise and network of local contractors to achieve the best outcome for the recipient community.

Closing the Loop
How does your project primarily ensure that feedback delivers results?

Other

Please elaborate on your answer to the above question.

Ehsaas aims to empower producers as a community to a greater degree than is possible for them individually. By creating an atmosphere in which feedback is given freely, allowing a democratic process in selecting a potential benefit (i.e. school, a well, a clinic) that represents the community as a whole, and utilizing field experts and other organizations to determine the feasibility, required resources for achievement, and pursuing the fulfillment of the goal, feedback loops are at the very heart of Ehsaas.

Languages: In what languages are you able to read and write fluently?

English.

2nd Round Questions
Thinking about your feedback loop; what information are you trying to get from whom, to whom, and to bring about what change?

Ehsaas is attempting to create local/regional offices to service individual artisans and artisan communities. The information these offices will collect will be the stories of these artisans as well as their primary grievances as these locales are usually under-served. The key goal is not only to enhance the earning potential of the individuals in the community by using the power of a narrative to sell to previously out-of-reach markets, but also to strengthen the community by listening to what their priorities may be and working to fulfill them through organizational reach.

For example, a community of batik artisans we work with may report to an Ehsaas local office that water quality in their community is lacking. Ordinarily, this community has limited organizational leverage to attract attention from the state or an NGO and implement a lasting solution.

The Ehsaas local office that they sell their work through will use a portion of the proceeds from that community's sales, in combination with solicitation of donations, to study and implement a solution with an organization with experience in alleviating the problem. In this example, Ehsaas would study the issue and might team up with Charity:Water to drill a local well if groundwater reservoirs exist, or work with organizations like NextDrop or various filtration providers to make a sustainable and meaningful impact in the community, depending on the contextualization of the issue they face.

What is the purpose of your feedback loop?

Creating broader awareness of issue/movement building

If other, please specify

Creating awareness of issue to determine strategic direction and improve implementation.

What mediums or mechanisms do you use to collect feedback? (check all that apply)

SMS, Website, Physical gathering.

If other, please specify
Could you briefly describe the way you collect the feedback?

Once an artisan community has been identified, the Ehsaas local office will work to develop a relationship with individuals we work with and resell items they produce. By establishing these inroads into their community and making it clear that Ehsaas exists to serve them, we will provide a platform for artisans to approach us with their own needs, rather than falling into the all too common trap of assessing their needs and implementing a one-size-fits-all solution.

Needs may vary and so collection methods must reflect this. Power outages and infrastructure failures require immediate incidence-reporting mechanisms, such as SMS platforms pioneered by Ushahidi. Deeper problems such as lack of water, sanitation facilities, or regular health care will require a physical approach. Ehsaas will listen to the needs of these oft-overlooked communities and serve as the conduit between them and organizations that can directly alleviate their issues. The sale of their work provides the capital, and Ehsaas provides the research and organizational capacity.

By it's very nature, most feedback will be public. Community profiles published on the online store will identify community needs so customers understand what their purchase is funding. In the case of more sensitive issues however, anonymous feedback and rigorous field security will need to be implemented. This is not something we had considered at the outset, but would be a crucial addition to feedback.

Immediate benefits of feedback will be to provide clear direction towards the completion of a community project. The long term benefits of feedback will be to implement and maintain the project.

What mechanisms are in place to protect people from retribution?

Other

If other, please specify

Both the option to provide anonymous feedback as well as extensive information security will be used.

What are the immediate benefits or incentives for people to provide feedback?

Confirmation of use of feedback

If other, please specify
How do you ensure new and marginalized voices are heard?

Other

If other, please specify

Both. Ehsaas targets marginalized and exploited artisans, and by working with us they will increase earning potential.

What are the incentives for the intended recipient to act on the feedback?

They understand that feedback is necessary

If other, please specify

By it's very business model, Ehsaas exists to serve the community to

How does the feedback mechanism close the loop with those who provided feedback in the first place?

Other

If other, please specify

We will update the community on progress towards their goal, and hear their input on how we can best serve them.

How is feedback published/transparent?

On a website

If other, please specify

Feedback will be used to drive sales and overall written reports will be published online.

Give two concrete examples of how feedback loops have brought a program or policy more in line with citizens’ desires.

[Ehsaas exists in the planning and ideation stage and so has not achieved any concrete results as of yet.]

If there was one thing you could change to increase the impact of your feedback loop, what would it be?

Partnerships are the key to maximizing the impact of the feedback loop. Ehsaas envisions the feedback loop as the ultimate method of human-centric development.

When expanded at a macro-level, feedback loops form the foundation of lasting societal changes. The advent of democracy, the rise of economic thought and microeconomic theory, and the subsequent effects they have had on broader society are obvious examples. In the field of development in the current day, we are witnessing the rise of randomized controlled trials conducted by organizations like MIT's Jameel Poverty Action Lab, which seek to contextualize successes and failures of policy interventions. At the most basic level, the level of the individual and the community, many are passed over due to lack of traditional economic "productivity" or are trapped in systems with broken linkages between their needs and the solutions perceived as viable and implemented with questionable long-term commitment from those that would attempt to address them.

Ehsaas seeks to provide those individuals and communities with a platform and a path towards creating new linkages between demands and solutions. Many organizations seek to increase the earning potential of their beneficiaries in a model similar to the one Ehsaas proposes. The insight they miss is that extra income is of limited utility when the infrastructure and systems for communities to enrich themselves do not exist. Ehsaas will give communities the opportunity to gather capital and utilize our organizational capacity to pursue a solution that fits their culture and lifestyle, while also providing them a strong sense of ownership.

In order to do so, Ehsaas needs to pursue meaningful partnerships with those possessing expertise in implementing sustainable solutions. Currently we are focusing on the ideation and modeling stage of the venture, but partnerships are key to carrying out our vision. We don't purport to have all the answers, but we pledge to find them and make them a reality.

What are your biggest challenges or barriers in “closing the feedback loop”?

An “expert paradigm” where the perspectives on “non-experts” is not valued

If other, please specify

Development strategies have only recently begun to be culturally sensitive and based on feedback, away from the general models.

Are you aware of The Feedback Store?

No, but I can see myself using it as a resource

What are the main uses you can envision for the Feedback Store?

In initial startup phase, local offices will be sparsely manned. Feedback collection methods and incidence reporting (such as Ushahidi) can form a backbone to help local teams be effective at the outset, as well as monitor the efficacy of the solutions over time. Obviously, we'd like to implement the best solution from the very beginning, but by recording feedback from services like Echo Mobile, we can understand how solutions are used and tailor further improvements.

Feedback mechanisms will also play a crucial role in inventory management on the business side. The concept of follow-ahead supply versus consignment is still being worked on, but reporting the completion of items for sale in a timely fashion is a low-cost adaptation of reporting and feedback technologies that we are currently investigating for viability.

What is the one thing you would most like to see changed to improve the competition process?

The competition process could be improved by offering business plan type resources or more clear templates so that an overall picture of the venture could be established in a standardized way and easily comparable way. Many ventures vary widely in models, timelines, and aims, but standardization would only encourage comparisons and the ability to glean insight from other competition entries.

What are you doing to make sure that feedback providers know that they are empowered by the information they can give and that they know exactly what the information they are providing?

On the retail website, artisans and communities will have public profiles that outline their aims and community projects. All feedback and updates on project progress will be available there. Regular meetings and continual conversations at the local office level will help to shape the direction of interventions and development strategies as well as to assess efficacy.