Megha’s Dharavimarket.com, an icon of successful e-commerce
When the e-commerce sector was just taking off in India in the early 2012, 29 year old Megha Gupta headed in bringing about the numerous artisans, craftsman and manufacturers of Dharavi into one fold and promote Dharavi, in a way that benefits its myriad artisans both economically and socially through Dharavimarket.com. Dharavimarket.com is a perfect icon of successful e-commerce.
Having started off as a journalist after completing her Bachelor’s degree in mass media in 2006, Megha Gupta, Founder of Dharavimarket.com mostly reported on issues concerning infrastructure in Mumbai. She then went to the University of Sheffield, UK, for an MA in Town and Regional Planning. After her return in early 2008, she worked with some of the best names in urban planning, assisting them in areas of research and publication of public infrastructure projects and affordable housing ideas. It was during this five year stint as an urbanologist that Megha got involved in a project about the daily commute methods of people in Dharavi, considered as Mumbai’s largest informal special economic zone. For six months she spent 16-18 hours a day in Dharavi observing and understanding local manufacturing activities and lifestyle of the people. “This is when I realized that there is so much activity in Dharavi,” said Megha.
However a new venture would need funds and she didn’t have enough. For about two years, she worked as a freelance urbanologist to accumulate money for her pet idea. Megha said “Lot of people in Dharavi don’t have computers but most of them have good smart phones,” She needed to invest in developing a mobile app that would allow craftsmen to upload images and other details of their products onto the platform as well. After much preparation and investing about Rs 5 lakhs, Megha launched Dharavimarket.com in August 2014.
Four months into its operations, Dharavimarket.com has about 104 registered craftsmen selling 962 SKUs across different product categories like bags, accessories, clay and pottery, shoes and apparel, customized products and even raw material. They use the mobile app developed by Megha to upload pictures of their products which she approves before they appear online for sale. Dharavimarket.com also offers clients the facility of ordering custom-made products.
Currently Dharavimarket.com serves as a market place for leather product manufacturers, potters, shoe makers, jewelers and various accessory makers who want to sell their wares in the domestic and international markets. This for-profit initiative provides fair remuneration to the skilled craftsmen for their labour and expertise and makes available world-class quality goods at reasonable prices to its buyers. “Dharavimarket.com aims at bridging this gap by using the power of e-commerce. It also intends to create an exhaustive database of every craftsman that will include photos of their workshop, information on how they make their products and their life stories,” says Megha.
In the next two years, Megha is keen to implement the Social Capital Credits Program (SoCC) that aims at improving the quality of life for craftsmen. She has partnered with URBZ and Asia Initiatives for this. Craftsmen who get registered on Dharavimarket.com will automatically be registered for the SoCC. Megha’s goal is to bring as many craftsmen as possible in the ambit of this program. She is also keen to reach out to wholesalers from US and Russia to expand her business. From being an e-commerce website, Dharavimarket.com has the larger vision of evolving into a robust platform for voicing multiple issues that are intimate to the slum dwellers.