MSME SuperPower:

Riding a New Wave of Change: Ebikes for Rural India

Papiya Banerjee

Founder, E-Bhroom, Kolkata, West Bengal

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Until early 2022, I was just another face in the crowd, navigating the daily grind of a 9-to-5 IT job. I had heard the buzz about Tesla and other electric vehicle breakthroughs, but I never thought I’d find myself diving headfirst into this industry. As sustainable transportation conversations grew, I wondered how I could make a difference. On a trip to rural West Bengal, the sight of determined locals pedaling their bicycles sparked inspiration. It dawned on me: just as electric cars revolutionized cities, these bicycles too could undergo a transformative journey in rural India.

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Bridging the Gap: Innovation in Rural Transportation

The vast, diverse terrains of rural West Bengal presented both challenges and opportunities. For many villagers, bicycles and animal carts weren’t just a mode of transportation; they were an integral part of life. While they were eco-friendly, they weren’t always efficient, especially over lengthy distances. I felt there was room for innovation, a bridge I could help build.

Those initial days of EBhroom were marked by a flurry of activities. I dived into exhaustive market research, met local manufacturers, and frequented cycle shops. The data was clear: people needed an enhanced commuting solution, but it had to be economical.

Discussions with the community made one thing more and more clear – instead of crafting an entirely new electric bike, why not design a kit that could convert any standard bicycle into an Ebike? And so, with a modest price tag of Rs. 6,800, EBhroom’s conversion kit emerged – a solution that was innovative yet accessible.

Scaling New Heights with Walmart Vriddhi Program

This journey, of course, was not devoid of obstacles. Being a woman in the predominantly male-dominated automobile sector, I often felt the weight of skepticism. However, my vision for EBhroom was unshakeable. It wasn’t about breaking stereotypes or achieving personal glory. It was about affecting genuine change, touching lives in rural areas.

Developing a product is just the beginning; the true challenge lies in its adoption and reaching the target audience. The Walmart Vriddhi program played a crucial role in addressing these challenges for my Ebhroom conversion kit. By enrolling in the program, I received interactive online training, personalized mentoring, and access to resources and experts that supported my growth.

The program’s structured approach helped me find solution partners across various business sectors in one place, enabling me to improve market access and adoption of the Ebhroom conversion kit. As a result, my sales increased significantly, and I gained the confidence to tackle the challenges of entrepreneurship, growing from selling a handful of kits to over 55-60 a month.

I also learned to streamline my supply chain, implement data-driven insights, make informed decisions, identify emerging trends, and seize opportunities for innovation and expansion. The program also offered opportunities t and access to a wider consumer base through Flipkart’s marketplace.

Expanding Horizons: Collaboration with Flipkart

The Walmart Vriddhi program played a crucial role in helping me expand the reach of my Ebhroom conversion kit. My recent collaboration with Flipkart was a significant step forward in that direction. By aligning with this expansive platform, I aimed to ensure that my product could empower even more individuals across the country.

There are more than 900 million people in India who live in the rural areas. While bicycles are an integral part of life for many, they are not always efficient, especially over long distances and public transportation is limited in far flung villages.

Bicycles are an essential mode of transportation for many living in rural areas, but they are not always efficient, especially over long distances. EBhroom’s electric bicycle conversion kit has the potential to revolutionize rural transportation by making it more efficient and eco-friendlier.

The electrification rate in rural areas of India is approximately 90%. With the increasing availability of electricity, the adoption of electric bicycles can be expected to rise. Even if 1% of the rural population adopts the kit, it would mean that around 9.09 million people would benefit from this innovation.

Transforming Lives, One Electric Bicycle at a Time

Today, as I reflect on my journey, the transition from an IT office to the heart of rural Bengal, it all seems surreal. Every challenge surmounted, it was my belief in the dream I was nurturing, along with a few helpful partners whose offerings I was able to leverage – that made all the difference.

Now, when I witness the golden Bengal sunset, amidst its hues, I spot villagers on their electrified bicycles. It’s not merely about the conversion kit; it’s the transformative change it brings to their daily routines – whether it’s a farmer reaching the market swiftly, a student getting to school with energy to spare, or a mother connecting with neighboring village markets effortlessly.

My story, I hope, serves as a beacon of inspiration. A tale of an idea’s power, of determination steering through adversity, and of a dream that promised – and delivered – change. Starting with just a desire to make an impact, today, I see a brighter, more sustainable future unfolding, one electrified bicycle at a time.

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