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People of Bharat: Aniket Diwan



I dial Aniket’s number who had asked me to call up any time after 8 p.m. As I listen to the recorded message reassuring the callers on the latest COVID-19 vaccine, a thought flashed through my mind about these fraught times. Before I could examine it closely, I hear Aniket’s ‘Hello’. He was expecting my call and said he was happy to answer any of my questions. His words are measured — he replies concisely with staccato breaks.

Aniket Diwan, 22, was born and brought up in a rural area outside Ambala in Haryana. His father owns a steel hardware shop and his mother is a housewife. When Aniket was a child, his father’s business was doing well and they were financially comfortable. Aniket, his brother and their parents now reside in a house with five rooms and all basic amenities; the only luxury are the air conditioners in the two bedrooms.

After graduation, Aniket started work in network marketing, promoting and selling products in a typical chain-system. About a year ago, a placement consultant he went to, assessed his education and experience for a suitable job. He was recommended working as a ground agent for a startup offering last mile connectivity services to enterprises in rural markets through a network of ‘on-the-ground’ agents.

Aniket was told to get a smartphone for this and he bought his first smartphone and downloaded the app. The startup verified his details, conducted a training, and activated his account. Depending on the startup’s choice of enterprise partners, Aniket’s tasks vary. These include background check of a prospective employee or verification of financial details for a loan approval by a microfinance institution. On occasions, he is required to pick up and deliver items to the enterprise’s warehouse and even conduct detailed surveys. Depending on the number of tasks accomplished, he is paid bi-monthly. Use of the startup’s e-wallet for value-added-services (VAS) — such as mobile recharges and bill payments — for himself and others earn him commissions. Put together, his average monthly income is INR 20–25,000 per month.

Aniket told me his father took care of the basic household expenses. He and his brother contributed towards other expenses — approximately INR 8–10,000 on groceries, INR 3,000 on utility bills, INR 3500 on vehicle insurance for a motorcycle and a car, recently purchased by his father. A portion of their earnings is re-invested in their father’s business. I suspect they also pay annual premiums towards life insurance. Aniket also supports his father in running the family business on off days he has from the startup.

Aniket confessed that, in the beginning, he had struggled with the startup’s app interface, but with good support from them, he soon picked up speed. He is now very comfortable with most features of the app. Aniket also uses other Digital Financial Apps (DFAs) such as Google Pay and PayTM to pay online bills, pay for petrol, and do payment transfers. He elaborated on how DFAs offer convenience and confidentiality in lending and borrowing money among friends and relatives. Aniket has a bank account and manages to save INR 5–7,000 every month. Aniket told me he liked the work he is currently doing. Network marketing and operating as an agent give him the flexibility he wants. ‘I could never work under anyone. I always wanted to be on my own!’ he said. He loves to travel and meet new people and his work gives him a chance to interact with and learn about people from diverse cultures.

Aniket follows keenly what is trending on the Internet. However, the basic computer course he took in college has left him dissatisfied, ‘I didn’t learn much from the computer centre. Now I learn more from YouTube videos.’ Aniket harbours hopes and dreams about his future, like the millions of Indian youngsters. He wants to buy his own house and a car; he would like to be an ideal husband, a doting father, and a good provider. ‘I hope to relieve my father (from work) someday soon. And I would definitely like to go on a world tour!’ he adds. We both share an awkward laugh before we say our formal goodbyes and end the call. About the Authors: Anshuka Sachdeva is an Account Manager at MIMO Technologies Pvt Ltd. Valerie Mendonca is a Senior Associate — Insights at CIIE.CO, India’s foremost entrepreneurship centre housed at IIM Ahmedabad. Her research interests are women, entrepreneurs, society and storytelling. She tweets @ValerieHood17.

About Bharat Inclusion Initiative (BII): Bharat Inclusion Initiative (BII) is an incubator platform at CIIE.CO that provides entrepreneurs the domain knowledge, training, financial support, mentorship, and market access they need to bring inclusive, for profit-business to life. BII’s core design is to promote technology-driven entrepreneurship towards the delivery of affordable services to the “Bharat Segment- the poorest 200 million households in India who survive on less than $5 per person a day” through programs, fellowships, and funding where possible.

The program focuses on solutions leveraging technology, especially the India Stack. It integrates financial inclusion research with entrepreneurship and training to transform these solutions into scalable, viable and high impact businesses. We are keen on partnering with entrepreneurs who are driven by building next-generation digital services for India. Reach out to us at bharatinclusion@ciieindia.org or ask your questions in the comments section below.


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