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Challenge Shakti – A Win Win State of affairs


“Our partnership with HUL provides the agricultural entrepreneur a worthwhile enterprise mannequin whereas working i-Shakti kiosks. Additionally, low price supply and customised merchandise will lead to increased profit by way of enhanced financial good points for the agricultural customers.”

~ Mr. Nachiket Extra

Government Director, Wholesale Banking Group


“There’s unimaginable potential in rural markets. That is the place the expansion will come from.”

~ Sharat Dhall, Hindustan Lever’s director of recent ventures and advertising companies

Sankaramma, the chief of the native Kanaka Durga self-help Group (SHG) belongs to Ok. Thimmapuram village’s Muddaner Mandal within the Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh. The village has 350 households with a complete inhabitants of 1200. Sankaramma’s 5 hectares of agricultural land was not enough for six member household attributable to extreme drought within the area. She began a enterprise in April 2003 with the Hindustan Unilever Ltd. By 2005, she had an everyday month-to-month turnover of Rs.10,000 monthly. Initially she offered door to door, however thereafter the purchasers began visiting her house for merchandise. She sees Challenge Shakti as a imply for the intense futures of her youngsters. Challenge Shakti additionally enabled her to supply mid-day meals on the main college in her village. Right now, Sankaramma has grow to be a key improvement determine in her village.

Usha Sarvatai, a mom of two, traveled 32 km on a regular basis to work. Her husband’s earnings was not enough for the 2 youngsters and their previous mother and father. However the lengthy distance and the odd timings of the job compelled Usha to stop the job. Then she acquired a name from the Authorities dept. to attend a gathering, convened by Challenge Shakti. Usha turned a Shakti Amma and began a brand new enterprise. In a brief span the nice relationships she developed with the villagers helped her do good enterprise. She says, “I’m glad fulfilling my household’s necessities and other people give me plenty of respect right now.” And he or she is now very wanting to develop her enterprise within the years to return.

The listing doesn’t finish right here. Hindustan Lever Ltd., a subsidiary of Unilever is relying on 1000’s of girls like Sankaramma and Usha Sarvatai to promote its merchandise to the agricultural customers it could not attain earlier than. By 2005, round 13,000 poor girls have been promoting the corporate’s merchandise in 50,000 villages in India’s 12 states and contributed for 15% of the corporate’s rural gross sales in these states . The ladies usually earned between $16 and $22 monthly , usually doubling their family earnings which was used to teach their youngsters. General, round 30% of Hindustan Lever’s income got here from the agricultural markets in India

Began within the late 2000, Challenge Shakti had enabled Hindustan Lever to entry 80,000 of India’s 638,000 villages . Hindustan Lever’s director of recent ventures proudly expressed, “On the finish of the day, we’re in enterprise. But when by doing enterprise we are able to do one thing constructive, it is an important win-win mannequin.” Hindustan Lever was not the one firm recognizing the huge advertising potential in rural India. With the saturation of city market, the businesses began reengineering their companies and merchandise to focus on rural customers who’re poor however are wealthy in aspirations fueled by the media and different forces.

Unilever in India: Enterprise and Development

Unilever was the world’s largest Quick Shifting Shopper Items (FMCG) firm with a worldwide income of $55 billion in 2005 . It is Indian subsidiary, the Hindustan Unilever Restricted (HUL) was the nation’s largest FMCG firm with mixed volumes of about Four million tonnes and revenues close to about $2.43 billion . HUL’s main manufacturers included Lifebuoy, Lux, Surf Excel, Rin, Wheel, Honest & Beautiful, Pond’s, Sunsilk, Clinic, Pepsodent, Shut-up, Lakme, Brooke Bond, Kissan, Knorr-Annapurna, Kwality Wall’s and so on. These have been manufactured over 40 factories throughout the nation .

In 1931, Unilever arrange its first Indian subsidiary, Hindustan Vanaspati Manufacturing Firm . Thereafter the Lever Brothers India Restricted and United Merchants Restricted have been established in 1933 and 1935 respectively. In November 1956, these three firms merged and kind HUL. Unilever’s share in HUL was 51.55% in 2005 and the remaining of the shareholding was distributed amongst about 380,000 particular person shareholders and monetary establishments. A foray of acquisitions adopted thereafter . In 1984, the Brooke Bond joined the Unilever fold. Lipton was acquired in 1972 and Ponds in 1986 . HUL was following a progress technique of diversification at all times in keeping with Indian opinions and aspirations.

The financial and political improvement within the 1990s had marked an inflexion in HUL’s and the Group’s progress curve. Financial liberalization permitted the corporate to discover each single product and alternative section, with none constraints on manufacturing capability. However, deregulation allowed alliances, mergers and acquisitions. In 1993, HUL merged with the Tata Oil Mills Firm (TOMCO) 1993 . In 1995, HUL shaped a 50:50 three way partnership with one other Tata firm, Lakme Restricted .

The corporate had additionally made a string of mergers, acquisitions and alliances within the Meals and Drinks sector. A few of these have been the acquisition of Kothari Normal Meals (1992), Kissan (1993), Dollops Icecream enterprise from Cadbury India (1993), Fashionable Meals (2002), Cooked Shrimp and Pasteurised Crabmeat enterprise of the Amalgam Group of Corporations (2003) .

With 12.2% of the world inhabitants residing within the villages of India, the nation’s rural FMCG market had an enormous potential . The Indian FMCG sector was the fourth largest sector within the economic system with a market dimension of $13.1 billion . The sector was anticipated to develop by over 60% by 2010. In 2005-2006 the city India accounted for 66% of complete FMCG consumption, with rural India accounting for the remaining 34% . Nonetheless, rural India accounted for greater than 40% consumption in main FMCG classes similar to private care, material care, and scorching drinks . The Bid FMCG firms similar to HLL, Nirma and ITC joined the foray to faucet the massive potential.

Within the 1990s, a neighborhood Indian agency, Nirma Ltd. began offering detergents to the agricultural poor on the lowest price. The corporate had created a enterprise system with a brand new product formulation, low-cost manufacturing, large distribution channel, particular packaging and worth pricing. After a decade, Nirma turned one of many largest branded detergent makers with a 38% market share and 121% return on its capital employed .

In 2002, ITC arrange a community of internet-based kiosks, e-choupals, to assist the farmers of their procurement course of. The initiative started with the soya growers in Madhya Pradesh after which expanded to cotton, tobacco, shrimp and so on. Beginning with six e-choupals in June 2000, ITC’s Web-based, rural initiative had linked 6,000 Indian villages with round 1,200 e-choupals by 2002. The establishing of every e-choupal entails an funding of Rs 1-Three lakh .The aims behind e-choupals was to permit single place procurement and buy level, permitting farmers to promote their merchandise on to ITC on the idea of up to date present costs prevailing available in the market. This eradicated middlemen and thus helped ITC to chop its prices.

In 2007, round 34% of the FMCG merchandise gross sales got here from rural areas . The variety of households that used FMCG merchandise in rural India had grown from 13.6 crore in 2004 to 14.Three crore in 2007 . This progress was achieved on a mean 1.8% year-on-year progress within the variety of households, which use no less than one FMCG product. Nonetheless, the expansion in penetration stage for your entire FMCG merchandise was not similar. In line with one research by a market analysis agency IMRB, the month-to-month consumption of detergents and bathroom soaps remained largely stagnant with a 92% penetration, however that of liquid shampoos grew from 68% in 2004 to 83% in 2007 . These figures revealed a shift in the direction of higher-value merchandise among the many rural market, from toothpowder to toothpaste or from unbranded to branded merchandise. In line with the senior venture director of IMRB Worldwide, Manoj Ok Menon, “One of the vital adjustments, contains rising desire in the direction of branded merchandise. For instance, within the meals and drinks section, penetration of branded atta has gone up year-on-year by Eight per cent and branded salt by Three per cent. The penetration of unbranded atta has decreased by 1 per cent and salt by Three per cent.”

The HLL Advertising Effort: Transition to Rural Market

HUL’s aggressive benefit generated from three sources. First it is robust nicely established manufacturers, second, its native manufacturing capability and provide chain and third its huge gross sales and distribution system. It was quickly felt that HUL’s gross sales and distribution system which had protected it from rivals can be quickly replicated by its rivals and to take care of its edge, the corporate needed to enhance its attain past the city markets. To this point the operations of HUL included greater than 2,000 suppliers and associates. The distribution community, consisted of 4,000 stockists, overlaying 6.Three million shops reaching your entire city inhabitants, and about 250 million rural customers .

Usually, the products produced in every of the HUL’s 40 factories have been despatched to a depot with the assistance of a carrying and forwarding agent (CFA). The corporate had its depot in each state of the nation. The CFA was a 3rd celebration and acquired servicing price for inventory and supply of the merchandise. In every city, there was a redistribution stockist (RS) who took the products from the CFA and promote them to shops. By the late 1990s, the HUL administration realized sure issues with the prevailing gross sales mannequin. First, the mannequin was not viable for small cities with small inhabitants and small enterprise. HUL discovered it costly to nominate one stockist completely for every city. Secondly, the retail revolution within the nation adjustments the sample the purchasers store. Massive retail self service retailers have been established. Within the response of those issues, HUL redesigned its gross sales and distribution channel and the brand new system was generally known as ‘diamond mannequin’ within the firm. On the prime finish of the diamond, there have been the self service retail shops which constituted 10% of the entire FMCG market. The center, fatter a part of the diamond represented the profit-center primarily based gross sales crew. Within the backside of the pyramid was the agricultural advertising and distribution which accounted for 20% of the enterprise .

Virtually three-fourth of the entire 1.2 billion Indian inhabitants resided within the rural areas and majority of them had a really low per capita earnings (round 44% of that of city India) . City market had reached the saturation level, thus altering concentrate on rural India. Compared to simply 5,161 cities in India there are 6,38,365 villages in India [Exhibit I]. Furthermore, greater than 70% of India’s inhabitants lived in villages and made an enormous marketplace for the FMCG trade due to rising disposal incomes and consciousness stage.

Exhibit I

Distribution of Villages in India

Supply: Kash Rangan, Sehgal Dalip et. Al., “International Poverty: Enterprise Approaches and Options”,

When HLL shifted to the agricultural India, it confronted many issues. In distinction with a low per capita earnings comparative to the city residents, there have been some areas with sufficient cash however their consciousness stage and consumerism was very low. Secondly, rural FMCG demand was depended upon agricultural scenario which was once more depended upon monsoon. Transportation was additionally a serious hindrance. Lots of the rural areas weren’t related by rail transport. The Kacha roads have been unserviceable in the course of the monsoon and inside villages get remoted. Apart from transportation, there was an issue of distribution and communication amenities similar to phone, fax and web. Furthermore, the lives in rural areas have been nonetheless ruled by ethnicity and traditions and other people didn’t merely get used to new practices. For instance, even wealthy and educated class of farmers doesn’t put on denims or branded footwear. The shopping for selections in villages have been gradual and delayed. They needed to offer a trial and purchase solely after being happy. And, lastly the poor illiterate villagers seen expertise extra necessary than formal training and so they valued gross sales individuals who may present sensible options to their issues.

HLL approached the agricultural market with two standards – the accessibility and viability [Exhibit II]. Round 40% of the accessible rural market had excessive enterprise potential. To service this section, HLL appointed a typical stockist who was liable for all shops and all enterprise inside his explicit city. Within the 25% of the accessible markets with low enterprise potential, HLL assigned a retail stokist who was accountable to entry all of the villages no less than as soon as in a fortnight and ship shares to these markets. This allows HLL to affect the retailers shares and portions offered by way of credit score extension and commerce reductions. HLL launched this Oblique protection (IDC) in 1960s.

To cater the wants of the inaccessible market with excessive enterprise potential HLL initiated a Streamline initiative in 1997. HLL appointed rural distributors and Star Sellers. The star vendor bought items from rural distributors and distributed them to retailers in small villages utilizing the native imply of transport. On this means round 35% of the inaccessible rural market got here beneath the management of HLL. However a nonetheless untapped market – the inaccessible however low enterprise potential market was left outdoors. The dimensions of this untapped market was estimated to be round 500,000 villages with a inhabitants over 500 million . At this stage, Challenge Shakti was conceived.

Exhibit II

HLL’s Method to Rural Market

Low Enterprise PotentialExcessive Enterprise Potential

Accessible MarketsOblique Protection (25%)Direct Protection (40%)

Inaccessible MarketsHouse for ShaktiStreamline (35%)

Supply: V. Kasturi Rangan Rohithari Rajan, “Unilever in India: Hindustan Lever’s Challenge Shakti–Advertising FMCG to the Rural”, – 27ok

Challenge Shakti

HLL quickly realized that though it was having fun with a higher penetration within the rural market in comparison with its competitor similar to Nirma and ITC, its direct attain was restricted to solely 16% . The FMCG large was determined to extend this share. HUL noticed its dream success within the huge Indian rural market. The corporate was already engaged in rural improvement with the launch of the Built-in Rural Growth Programme in 1976 within the Etah district of Uttar Pradesh. This program was in tandem with HUL’s dairy operations and coated 500 villages in Etah. Subsequently, the corporate launched comparable packages in adjoining villages. These actions primarily aimed toward coaching farmers, animal husbandry, producing various earnings, well being & hygiene and infrastructure improvement. The primary subject in rural improvement was to create income-generating prospects for the poor villagers. Such initiatives, linked with the corporate’s core enterprise, turned profitable and sustainable and proved to be mutually useful to each the corporate ant its rural prospects. Nonetheless, a lot remained to be achieved. Challenge Shakti was conceived.

Following the pioneering work carried out by Grameen Financial institution of Bangladesh , Self Assist Teams (SHGs) of rural girls have been shaped by a number of establishments, NGOs and authorities our bodies in villages throughout India. This group of normally 15 members contributed a small amount of cash to a typical pool after which supplied a micro-credit to a member of the group to put money into a generally authorized financial exercise. Partnering with these SHGs, HLL began its Challenge Shakti in Nalgonda district of Andhra Pradesh in 50 villages within the yr 2000. The social facet of the Challenge Shakti was that it was aimed to create income-generating capabilities for underprivileged rural girls, by offering a sustainable micro enterprise alternative, and to enhance rural residing requirements by way of well being and hygiene consciousness. Most SHG girls seen Challenge Shakti as a robust enterprise proposition and are eager members in it. There after it was prolonged in different states with the entire energy of over 40,000 Shakti Entrepreneurs.

HLL supplied a variety of merchandise to the SHGs, which have been related to rural prospects. HUL invested considerably in sources who work with the ladies on the sphere and supply them with on-the-job coaching and help. HUL offered the mandatory coaching to those teams on the fundamentals of enterprise administration, which the ladies must handle their enterprises. For the SHG girls, this translated right into a much-needed, sustainable earnings contributing in the direction of higher residing and prosperity. Armed with micro-credit, girls from SHGs grow to be direct-to-home distributors in rural markets [Exhibit III].

Exhibit III

Construction of HLL’s Market Attain in India

Supply: Kash Rangan, Sehgal Dalip et. Al., “International Poverty: Enterprise Approaches and Options”,

Shakti: The way it works

Normally, a member from a SHG was chosen as a Shakti entrepreneur, generally referred as ‘Shakti Amma’ obtained shares from the HLL rural distributor. After skilled by the corporate, the Shakti entrepreneur then offered these items on to customers and retailers within the village. Every Shakti entrepreneur normally serviced 6-10 villages within the inhabitants strata of 1,000-2,000 folks with 4-5 main manufacturers of HLL – Lifebuoy, Wheel, Pepsodent, Annapurna salt and Clinic Plus. Aside from these, different manufacturers included Lux, Ponds, Nihar and three Roses tea. The Shakti entrepreneurs got HLL merchandise on a `money and carry foundation.’ Nonetheless, the native self-help teams or banks offered them micro credit score wherever required. In line with Dalip Sehgal, Government Director, New Ventures & Advertising Providers, HLL Challenge Shakti was including as much as 15% of HLL gross sales in rural Andhra Pradesh. He additional asserted that given the largeness of the nation and backwardness of its girls, Challenge Shakti-like endeavor would place everyone in a win-win scenario.

I-Shakti: Crossing the Border

Inspired by the goodwill and success of Challenge Shakti, in August 2003, HLL launched an Web-based rural info service, referred to as I-Shakti, in Andhra Pradesh, in affiliation with the Andhra Pradesh Authorities’s Rajiv Web Village Programme. I-Shakti was an IT-based rural info service to supply very important info to the agricultural folks in fields like agriculture, training, vocational coaching, well being, hygiene and the like [Exhibit IV]. The target behind the i-Shakti mannequin was to offer want primarily based demand pushed info and companies within the villages.

The i-Shakti kiosk was operated by the Shakti Entrepreneur. This was anticipated to strengthen their relationship with their prospects. HUL anticipated that this might enhance the productiveness of the agricultural neighborhood and unlock financial and social progress.

Exhibit IV

A snapshot of the ‘i-Shakti’ web site

Supply: “HUL Shakti-Altering lives in rural India.”, – 41ok

I-Shakti was primarily based on an interactive dialogue expertise developed & patented by the Unilever Company Analysis Crew, U.Ok. The system enabled an in-depth understanding of every person wants and thereby improved the standard of companies supplied to them. The APonline , had tied up with i-Shakti to launch numerous companies. Furthermore, by way of i-shakti, the ICICI Financial institution and HUL collectively offered numerous monetary services similar to life and normal insurance coverage, funding merchandise (Fairness, Mutual Funds, Bonds), ICICI Financial institution Pure Gold (gold cash), Private Credit score, Rural Financial savings Accounts and Remittances to the agricultural buyer.

Redefinition Rural Distribution: Altering Lives

Having profitable in Nalgonda, in 2003 HLL deliberate to broaden Shakti to a 100 districts in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and UP. There have been different plans similar to to permit different firms (besides HLL’s rivals) similar to Nippo, TVS Motor for mopeds, insurance coverage firms for LIC insurance policies to get onto the Shakti community to promote their shares. Sehgal was wanting proud when he introduced, “We needed to first stabilise the venture earlier than we are able to take a look at different firms. It requires any individual with scale and dimension to construct a platform after which invite different firms onto this platform.” He additional emphasised that Shakti was making a win-win partnership between HLL and its customers.

There have been about 4.36 lakh girls SHGs in AP with virtually 58.29 lakh poor girls. AP alone had about half of the SHGs of the nation. By 2005 the SHGs had mobolised Rs 1500 crore had mobilised as corpus. The agricultural girls organised themselves into `thrift and credit score’ teams with a saving of Re.1 a day which created a fund of greater than Rs 800 crore. Whereas the financial savings was there among the many SHGs, there was no channel of funding. HLL tapped this large ignored community to launch Challenge Shakti. HLL has in a position tp present a window of prospect to speculate and earn.

The affect of HLL was not hastily. HLL witnessed 15% incremental gross sales from the villages of AP, which accounted 50% of the entire gross sales of HLL merchandise in AP. Market analysts have been perceiving an enormous potential within the rural foray of HLL. Nikhil Vora, Sr. Vice President of analysis group ASK Raymond James believed that if there was one firm that might tackle the onus of creating the agricultural markets, it was HLL. He additional continued, “HLL contributes 20 per cent of the entire FMCG enterprise within the nation. So, clearly, the onus is on HLL to develop the market. Returns might not occur within the subsequent 5 years, however plenty of shopper understanding and insights comes from an train like Challenge Shakti, which in flip can result in product innovation.”

HLL acknowledged that for Challenge Shakti to achieve success for the corporate’s rural penetration, sellers and communicators have to be nicely skilled. It was unclear how sellers would carry out in an expanded infrastructure. Though HLL’s rural initiatives incurred large prices to the corporate, it was anticipated that with the monsoon revival and higher rural incomes may decline the payback interval for tasks like Shakti. Furthermore, the reducing model loyalty amongst city customers rural market had grow to be an crucial. In line with the Concurs Ok.N. Siva Subramanian, Sr. Vice President, Franklin Templeton India Ltd, “The (HLL) administration had acknowledged the upcoming saturation of the city markets a while again and launched aggressive plans to seize the agricultural markets. Nonetheless, a slowdown within the agricultural sector resulted in rural incomes remaining flat and affecting gross sales. We imagine that by concentrating on cheaper price factors and additional increasing the distribution community, firms can faucet the potential of rural markets. Initiatives like Challenge Shakti will assist them in establishing and consolidating their base in rural markets.”

HLL must decide whether or not Challenge Shakti might be repeatable in different international locations. The Indian household construction and village interplay present a novel diffusion mechanism that’s an efficient automobile for Shakti. Whether or not this mannequin might be efficiently carried out in different international locations have to be additional explored. Furthermore, it want to seek out out whether or not the Challenge Shakti or e-choupal like initiatives might be elevated. There was little doubt that the regional manufacturers, and even bigger FMCG firms, didn’t have the type of distribution attain that HLL had established and in the long term, that might show a winner for HLL.

Supply by Sweta Chhaochharia

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