Use WhatsApp to earn lakhs: these women entrepreneurs show you how
Preeti Sinha, Shanmugha Priya, and Megha Bafna are using WhatsApp as a medium to start and scale businesses in different sectors. Here’s how you can too.
India has a staggering number of 400 million active users on WhatsApp. In just two years, it has doubled its user base and is all set to make a considerable impact in different sectors, especially customer relationship, social commerce, funding, ecommerce, and retail.
In July this year, the Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP), WhatsApp, and Niti Aayog announced a partnership to support the growth of a robust ecosystem to promote women entrepreneurs.
Buoyed by the popularity and effectiveness of the medium, a number of women in the country are conducting brisk business through WhatsApp and raking in millions every month.
Megha Bafna from Pune uses solely WhatsApp to sell her range of scrumptious salads. A full-time working professional with a real estate company, her part-time passion for making salads has transformed into a full-fledged business.
“I have always been fond of making salads. Since I didn’t want to make them only for myself, I decided to serve salads to a wider audience. I designed a small creative and passed it on to my friends and acquaintances over WhatsApp,” she says.
Megha followed it up by posting on the Pune Ladies group on Facebook where she invited people to order over WhatsApp. The business took off slowly over this medium.
Chennai-based Shanmuga Priya’s life took an interesting turn when she decided to follow in her mother-in-law’s footsteps and sell sarees. Looking for an extra source of income to help her family after she quit her job, she bought a bag of sarees to sell. Encouraged by her husband, she stated selling sarees on WhatsApp to friends and family, which soon grew by leaps and bounds
In an earlier interview with HerStory, Priya said, “I started with a family and friends’ group. Gradually by word-of-mouth, I started getting more queries. So, I started a Facebook page of WhatsApp saree sellers. Today, it has more than 70,000-plus sellers,” she says.
When Preeti Sinha returned to Hyderabad from the US in 2014, she was overweight, and had not returned to her normal weight after her two pregnancies. When she decided to take her health seriously, she researched more on local produce and the benefits of following a diet full of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and greens.
She struck upon the idea of providing salads in the community she lived in Hyderabad. “One morning, I prepared a salad and approached a group of fitness enthusiasts to taste and provide their feedback. After the initial tasting session, I took the phone numbers of interested consumers and created a WhatsApp group. I started selling different types of salads over the group. Initially, I used to prepare the salads and even delivered them. This way I got to hear the feedback directly from consumers,” she recalls.
Scaling the business
Megha’s WhatsApp group grew over a small period of time and soon she was catering to around 200 orders a day and also bulk orders. Most of her customers come from the IT sector, BPOs, and also hospitals. Currently, she has a team of 15 people working for her, including delivery persons.
She has a range of around 22 salads that she does not repeat for a month. It’s only one kind of salad a day that is totally preservative-free and has a shelf life of only 24 hours since it is prepared fresh before delivery.
Shamugha Priya currently manages almost 11 WhatsApp groups and has a team of eight who market the sarees on a Facebook group. With her business taking off, she has converted the first floor of her home into a godown with a separate entrance for buyers to check stock. She has signed up with different logistics/courier companies for delivery.
After an initial pilot of eight months, when Preeti Sinha saw an increase in demand, she registered the company and later involved nutritionists and health experts to further fine-tune the existing salads towards holistic well-being. She soon registered her company, Greens and More.
WhatsApp for Business
Megha invested around Rs 3,500 into her salad business and now makes a gross revenue of Rs 1.25 lakh every month besides continuing her full-time job.
“WhatsApp has changed the way we can do business. Mine is fully dependent on WhatsApp for Business. My plan is to shift my business from my house into bigger premises and scale up steadily,” she says.
Preeti is happy that her small venture is growing in size. “We have been profitable from day one. During our MVP stage itself, we have done 30,000 meals. For corporate expansion, our growth strategy is to accelerate the process by getting on-boarded on Zomato’s Food@work and hunger box. Since they operate on revenue sharing it will not burden us with the initial capital expenditure. Till now, product validation has been done for subscription services. After validating the product acceptance at corporates (visibility stores), it will be easier to replicate the learnings in franchisees owned by individuals in prime locations,” she says.
Shamugha Priya’s Unique Threads sells 50-80 sarees in a day, and during festivals, the number increases. She posted a revenue of Rs 2.4 crore in 2016-17. Overall, she has a seven to 10 percent profit margin, and for wholesale, she keeps a margin of seven percent and for resellers 10 percent.
Will Cathcart, Global Head of WhatsApp, had said in July, “Small businesses are the backbone of a strong economy and I am proud of the role WhatsApp can play in helping build the next generation of India’s women entrepreneurs.”
Here’s hoping more women are inspired by these successful women entrepreneurs and use WhatsApp as a medium not just to change their lives but also their quality of living.
(Edited by Evelyn Ratnakumar)