The Rickshaw community is one of the poorest and more marginalized communities in India. But with SMV, they can actually start building a better life for themselves.

The rickshaw industry in India is highly unorganized and quite insalubrious. Though no exact market size of the industry is available, a conservative estimate puts the number of cycle rickshaws in India at 10 million, including both the passenger rickshaws and the peddle carts used to carry goods. This is a significant number and this community is a vital to keep India moving – literally, as rickshaws are an important form of transportation in many cities, including large metropolis like Delhi. Not to mention the positive environmental impact these vehicles have, as they are 100% human powered. Sadly, however, the Indian society and government do not appreciate them as much as they probably should. We are talking about one of the poorest and most marginalized social groups in India – and that means a lot.

The vast majority of rickshaw drivers are informal workers and use rental vehicles, as they don’t have the means to purchase their own carts. This means that, on a daily basis, the largest portion of their hard earned income is compromised with rental. It also means that they don’t get the proper license for the job, as the government only grants the license for vehicle owners. As you can see, rickshaw drivers in India have very little or no support at all in order to break this cycle of poverty and improve their lives.

That’s where SMV Wheels comes in with a beautiful, simple and efficient solution. They are a social enterprise that aims to address these issues and improve the lives of millions of Indian drivers. The idea is quite genius, really: rather than simply rent their vehicles every day, with no perspective of buying their own, through SMV, drivers can buy their own carts with an extended period of payment – that is cheaper than the daily rentals and offers far more support. To take get the business yet further, SMV has developed a lighter and more profitable rickshaw, with advertising space and extra passenger room.

This means that, within 13 months, through weekly payments, drivers can have their own improved rickshaw and license (which is also part of the deal). In 13 months they can be self-employed, with significantly larger income, both from rental savings and advertising earnings AND have the legal support that comes with the license. It’s a win-win in every aspect!

Now, as their first cycle of financing is getting to an end, SMV is trying to build a network of possible partners and supporters. They want more people to know their business and to get excited about it. And they especially want to learn how to communicate with external stakeholders, like investors, government bodies, national and international media, other social initiatives, etc. Once they are able to reach and communicate with these stakeholders, they will be able to expand the business model and increase their impact on the rickshaw community, improving the lives of thousands.

The TIE project will help them from a strategic point of view and also by providing SMV with the right tools in order to communicate their business effectively to the various people they are looking to reach.