Nitin Rao

Connecting Base of the Pyramid Producers to Markets

GreenMangoI was recently pointed to GreenMango – an interesting project and winner of the Echoing Green Fellowship. GreenMango is based out of Hyderabad and profiles small time, base-of-the-pyramid owned businesses such as plumbers, carpenters, tailors, mechanics and electricians. The data and service is also currently restricted to Hyderabad. The platform is currently in Beta version – with a simple interface to search for local businesses, using filters for business type, business name, or the area/pin codes.

Unlike Babajob, which depends on a more complicated variant of social networking, GreenMango offers a simple design and user reviews – that help one connect directly with the business. I was not able to write a review for my electrician, but I suspect that similar to popular auction sites, few people may try to game the system. While initiatives such as GreenMango as laudable in concept, even the more socially conscious friends I speak to seemed to prefer to use offline referrals to identify such help.The question is: Is GreenMango a scalable concept? Does the initiative create value for the individuals in the businesses profiled? (To be fair, not all social initiatives are launched with the goal of achieving scale – and our interest in this analysis is only to better understand models that might scale)

A deep effort is being made by LabourNet, a less talked about but comprehensive database being created for informal labor – currently focusing on the construction sector.? LabourNet is set up as an information exchange that provides access to information about jobs and labor in a transparent manner to construction workers and clients, respectively. To this end, it has a coordination/call centre where construction workers of all trades are registered into a database and are accessible on-call to builders, contractors, architects and individual customers for projects in Bangalore.

The worker database is managed through a web-based portal, which is used to match the skill sets of workers with the client’s request. Strong incentives are created for workers to enroll and stay in the network, including access to basic accident and health insurance coverage, and life improving support services.

The challenge and opportunity for LabourNet could be in moving from being a source of information to a network taking responsibility for the transaction (across a range of services). This accountability will enable it to charge a reasonable premium – while incentivising higher quality of service and offering greater security to its workers.