BharatKlub wants to be a digital life partner for low-income workers

The startup is building a platform to provide an array of basic services like housing, jobs, health facilities to low-income workers.
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From finding a house in a new city to jobs or even accessing loan and insurance services—today, there is an app for everything. However, low-income workers in India still struggle to avail these services.

Bengaluru-based startup Bharatklub has embarked on a journey to bridge this digital divide and enable access to these services at affordable price points.

Founded by Deepak Sonthalia and Komal Meena in 2020, BharatKlub aims to be the “digital life partner for the low-income workforce.”

“There is a huge section of our population, especially the blue-collar workers staying in urban areas whose basic requirements are still unmet and we want to change that,” says Deepak.

According to Deepak, there are three key priorities for low-wage earners—how much can one earn, what can be saved and how to secure one’s life.

Using this framework, Deepak and his co-founder Komal brainstormed ideas that would help this demographic.

The duo did toy with the idea first of going fully digital to reach out to the low-income workers but decided against it and set up a physical presence first.

As the first step, BharatKlub decided to address the housing requirements of low-wage earners.

Deepak says the startup’s user base comprises people who have migrated from a small town or village to the cities and their first priority is housing. BharatKlub provides accommodation at a price of Rs 1,000 per month.

To enable the availability of such accommodations, BharatKlub entered into agreements with the landlords of facilities using a promise of a steady stream of clients. On the other hand, in order to reach out to their customers, the team of this startup ventured out to the industrial hubs in Bengaluru and distributed handbills or put up banners to create awareness about their product.

“People should be willing to pay and it has to be within their budget,” says Deepak.

BharatKlub has two kinds of agreements for housing. In one, the startup finds tenants for landlords who have already built the accommodation. In the other case, the startup asks land owners to build such accommodations and then takes over the management.

Today, BharatKlub has around 10,000 customers who are staying in its accommodations and typically these are people who earn anywhere between Rs 15,000-25,000 per month.

BharatKlub, directly or indirectly, operates over 150 buildings in Bengaluru. Besides, it has over 250 buildings listed on the platform.

After housing, the startup aims to help its users tap into the job segment. BharatKlub says it is building a platform where people can look for both short and long-term work opportunities.

BharatKlub has started negotiations with various service providers like banks, insurance companies, and healthcare institutions who can cater to the needs of this population segment.

“We are also looking at a network of restaurants who can provide food at lower costs and this service can be utilised by the blue-collar workers,” says Deepak.

Deepak believes the increasing popularity of smartphones will make people more comfortable in accessing services through the digital route.

BharatKlub will not charge any fee for the users of its services but will take a certain commission from the providers of the product or service.

“We would like to handhold these people in most aspects of their life,” says Deepak.

Currently, the startup is operational only in Bengaluru and is planning a foray into other cities such as Mumbai, Pune, and Delhi. BharatKlub currently employs five people.

BharatKlub started as a bootstrapped venture and recently raised a small angel round of funding.

Deepak has a background in retail with work experience at Trent and Reliance Retail while Komal is an IIT Mumbai graduate and worked at a few technology companies.

According to various industry estimates, India has about 30-45 crore blue-collar workers depending on the classification. Even within this segment, there are subcategories of skilled workers who do manual tasks like vehicle mechanics and crane operators.

A report by BetterPlace says that at least nine million jobs are expected to be created from sectors such as logistics, ecommerce, hotels, manufacturing, financial services etc in FY23. Most of these jobs will be created in urban areas.

Several startups in India are developing solutions for blue-collar workers. Top among these are jobs portal Apna, Vahan, WorkIndia among others.

(The copy was updated with additional information about the startup.)

Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti

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