South Delhi's Ayaan is not the only one who wants an iPad; Sheikh, who lives in a Karnataka village, wants one too

In a conversation with YourStory, rural commerce startup VilCart Founder Prasanna Kumar says people in villages today have the same aspirations as those in cities and metros, and his startup is helping meet them.

Contrary to popular opinion, Indians in villages and small towns today want the same things as their Urban, metro-city counterparts, says VilCart CEO and Co-founder, Prasanna Kumar, in a conversation with YourStory.

As someone who has their finger on the pulse of consumption patterns in the villages of the country, Prasanna's words carry weight - and the fact that non-urban areas are aspiring for things beyond what is currently available to them locally means that the digital, tech revolution is finally starting to penetrate far-flung areas.

There could be no one better than Prasanna to bring this fact to life - and that's because his startup, VilCart, a rural commerce startup that helps village kirana stores procure anything they want, easily, has been operational in over 5,000 villages in Karnataka.

The data that the startup, founded in 2018, has mined in its four to five years from catering to kiranas, is invaluable, and tells the story of an India starting to set its sights on things beyond the realm of "convenience".

"We're seeing that people are looking for things that can make their lives easier and better. Electronic goods, household appliances - they're all seeing an uptake in the villages of India," Prasanna tells YourStory's Founder and CEO, Shradha Sharma, in an interview series that takes us on a journey to some of India's villages to see the true impact VilCart has been making.

But even beyond procuring, where VilCart really makes a world of a difference to rural commerce is via logistics.

Earlier, kirana shop owners used to have to travel to the neared town and city to stock up on inventory, and then carry it back all by themselves using public transport, or even their own personal vehicle. With VilCart, shipping and transportation of goods such as washing machines become easier.

And it's not just bulky white goods that VilCart has helped drive consumption for - things like ready to eat snacks and drinks, which, once upon a time, did not have a market in rural India, are today seeing demand spikes from there because people want things that could make their lives easier and save time.

All of this has happened mainly because of the pandemic - children had to study online, while adults enjoyed the regional equivalent of a TikTok in their spare time. As they stumbled across more and more ads, they realised the value they could add to their lives.

"We've even gone so far as to adopt some urban products for rural India. We've spoken to manufacturers, got the contents and packaging changed to suit rural sensibilities, and it has worked," Prasanna says.

Edited by Teja Lele Desai


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