The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the world like no other event in contemporary history. The virus that originated from the Wuhan city in China has impacted almost all countries alike with the death toll increasing day by day. In the absence of a vaccine to fight this pandemic and prevent its spread, the only weapon different countries of the world had was to impose a lockdown. Lockdown means people, movement, and economy have to be shut at one go.
The lockdown has turned out to be extremely disastrous for millions of people who lost their savings, jobs, and incomes with no sight of respite. Shops are shut, markets are closed and production in factories has come to a halt. Even where they are being opened, people are afraid to go out and wearing a mask, using sanitizer and maintaining social distancing has been made mandatory by the government.
Economists around the world have been brainstorming to find out ways to gear up the economy so that people do not starve and governments get revenue. However, given the circumstances, the task is easier said than done. The silver lining amid this glooming scenario is the innovative minds of people everywhere to get things done.
It wouldn’t be a hyperbole to say that India is a land of innovations and we are very good at ‘jugaad’. We know how to get easy and simple solutions for even complex problems. Our mothers have been putting into practice the modern jargon of ‘reduce, recycle, and reuse’ for many years in our home. To me, this is an idea that gave birth to cheap technologies, medicines, and vaccines, which have saved and improved the lives of those living on the margins.
Indian entrepreneurs are working hard to make post-COVID economy come back on the track. The biggest challenge, however, is to make people confident enough to come out to buy goods from the market as not everything is available online (especially in small-towns) and also local shops need some kind of technological support to make their living in these times.
One of the difficulties that we face as customers are about getting our daily essentials like milk, eggs, bread medicines, etc as there are no shops where one could get all that is required at once. And therefore, one has to constantly hop shops in the hope to get the products needed. This becomes frightening as there are strong chances of getting in contact with the virus while spending a good amount of time in the market.
To solve this problem, a Noida based young entrepreneur Abhishek Singh has come up with a unique solution in the form of “The Saviors”, a free mobile app specially designed to help the common man as well as shopkeepers to cope up in the tough times of COVID-19. Inspired by Prime Minister Modi’s vision of Indians becoming Aatmnirbhar (self-dependent) and ‘Vocal for Local’, this completely Indian innovation has been the talk to town for its uniqueness of being neither an e-commerce website nor merely a search engine, but a hybrid of the two.
The interesting part of this app is that it connects the local shops with their customers, for example, the active grocery Store, pharma Store, and any other active stores in one’s locality. So as a customer, one can see what all shops have been operating in his/her area and can enquire about his requirements to his nearest stores. The owners respond with the availability of the products and confirm the order.
Either the order is delivered directly to the home, and if the option for home delivery is not available, they assign a token number and a time slot, and the customer can pick up their order from the store. This way it becomes easier to maintain social distancing, avoid overcrowding, save a lot of time and energy, and everyone is saved from inconvenience as both owner and consumer needs are met with ease in a stipulated time-frame. Such Indian innovations can bring about the radical remodelling of the Indian market.
Small shops, especially in small towns that are not able to have to tie up with giants like Groffers and Big Basket, can utilize this low-cost technology that doesn’t take away their margin of profit, while providing them customers at the same time. Therefore, a person becomes Aatmnirbhar, small shops get customers, and a local product is utilized. It is time for other such Indian innovations to come up in all other fields like video conferencing, telemedicine apps so that we don’t have to be dependent upon other countries for our basic needs.
The government needs to encourage the young entrepreneurs of this country by proving them with adequate funds, loans, and assurance to buy their products so that the demographic dividend of this country fully harnesses its talent and risk-taking ability.