Dharma Life Achievements

Dharma Life’s model is proving a sustainable and scaleable way to give rural consumers access to social-impact products.

Dharma-Last-Mile-(1).jpgThe business has grown from a few small pilots in Maharashtra in 2010 to supporting over 5,000 entrepreneurs across Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya and Gujurat – and has now served well over one million customers. The model has gone through several iterations and is now replicable across regions with very different customer demographics and vast cultural differences.

Dharma Life’s success in securing partnerships with leading social enterprises and multinationals (manufacturers of social-impact products) and distributors and retailers at local and state level (rural supply chain partners) – and most importantly finding and training talented local entrepreneurs – has positioned Dharma as the rural last mile distribution organisation of choice in rural India. 

Dharma Life has invested heavily in world-class customer care, training programmes and mobile-enabled sales tools – which have helped to facilitate a rapid expansion across India. The business is projected to achieve financial viability by 2018 and to expand beyond into African markets shortly thereafter.

Key Partnerships:

     
 
  • Dharma Life has formed strategic partnerships with a range of social enterprises to make essential products available to rural customers. These include clean cookstoves and solar lights from Shell Foundation partners Envirofit and d.light.
  • Dharma Life has been able to open rural markets for major companies with pro-poor products, for example forming partnerships with Unilever and Johnson & Johnson to sell and market water purifiers and sanitary products for women.
  • In 2012 Dharma Life launched a partnership with Coca-Cola to improve access to their ‘Vitingo’ product – a refreshing and affordable orange flavoured drink fortified with micro-nutrients to address the issues of iron deficiency among young children and women. Sales have now exceeded over 2.5 million units.
  • Dharma Life has created innovative partnerships with local microfinance institutions in the areas in which they work to improve affordability for their customers.
  • The business generates additional income by conducting research on the rural economy to help international development agencies such as GIZ better understand the wants and needs of low-income consumers.
 


Dharma Life aims to grow its network to include 100,000 rural entrepreneurs by 2020 – serving 15 million customers.

Back to Access To Energy

Subscribe to the Shell Foundation newsletter

Subscribe to this report