There are many apps that can help you find a house, a job, or access to loan and insurance services. These services are not available to low-income Indian workers.
The Bengaluru-based startup Bharatklub is on a mission to close the digital divide and allow access to these services at an affordable price point.
BharatKlub was founded by Deepak Sonthalia in 2020 and Komal Meena.
Deepak says, “There is a large section of our population, particularly the blue-collar workers who remain in urban areas, whose basic needs are still not met and we want that to change.”.
Deepak and Komal, his co-founder, came up with ideas to help this group.
Although they initially considered going completely digital to reach low-income workers, the duo decided against it and established a physical presence.
BharatKlub began by addressing the housing needs of low-wage earners as a first step.
Deepak said that the startup’s users are people who have moved from small towns or villages to cities, and their top priority is housing. BharatKlub offers accommodation at Rs 1,000 per month.
BharatKlub reached agreements with landlords to make it possible for such accommodation. They also promised a steady stream in clients. To reach their customers, this startup’s team ventured out into the industrial areas of Bengaluru to distribute handbills and put up banners to spread awareness about their product.
Deepak says that people should be willing and able to pay for it.
BharatKlub offers two types of housing agreements. The first is where the startup looks for tenants who are willing to rent the property from landlords who have built it. The startup will ask landowners to build these accommodations, and then take over management.
BharatKlub currently has approximately 1,000 customers staying in its accommodation. These are typically people earning between Rs 15,000 and 25,000 per month.
The startup’s goal is to assist its users in finding work opportunities after housing. BharatKlub claims it is creating a platform that allows people to search for short- and long-term employment opportunities.
BharatKlub is in negotiations with service providers such as banks, insurance companies and healthcare institutions that can meet the needs of this segment.
Deepak says, “We are also considering a network restaurant that can offer food at lower prices and this service could be used by the blue-collar worker.”
BharatKlub does not charge fees for its services, but it will receive a commission from the service providers.
Deepak says, “We would love to hold these people in all aspects of their lives.”
BharatKlub was originally a bootstrapped venture. Recently, it raised a small round of angel funding.
Deepak is a retail veteran with experience at Trent and Reliance Retail. Komal, a graduate of IIT Mumbai, has worked in a number of technology companies.
According to industry estimates, India employs between 30-45 million and 45 million blue-collar workers, depending on their classification. There are also subcategories that specialize in manual tasks, such as vehicle mechanics or crane operators.
BetterPlace reports that there are at least nine million jobs expected to be created in sectors like logistics, ecommerce and hotels. These jobs will be mainly created in urban areas.
Many startups are working in India to develop solutions for blue-collar workers. Among them are Apna, Vahan and WorkIndia, which are some of the most popular.