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Organic Thelawala to foray into Koramangala

k5Naveen Seri

KR Market, also known as City Market, is the largest wholesale market dealing with fruits, vegetables, groceries and commodities in Bangalore, India. It is named after Krishnarajendra Wodeyar, a former ruler of the princely state of Mysore.
KR Market attracts wholesale commission agents, distributors, retailers and consumers. Amanullah Khan is one such person who goes to K.R. Market every day. Amanullah earns his livelihood by pushing a Thela (push-cart) selling fresh vegetables. Amanullah’s starts his day at 3:30 am and reaches KR Market by 4:30 am otherwise he is not going to get the choice of his vegetables at a good price. The early birds get to negotiate a better price than the ones who come in late.
It’s no secret that KR Market is controlled by the wholesale commission agents and they dictate the prices both to the farmers and to smaller vendors like Amanullah. Maximizing their profits often at the cost of artificially rigging prices and forming a cartel with other agents is the main motive of the commission agents in the KR Market. The prices of fruits and vegetables in here are rigged and controlled by these agents.
Over the years, the commission agents have diversified their businesses and have started providing vegetables on credit to people like Amanullah and also thela’s on rent to further maximize their income.
Every day, Amanullah’s problem starts with negotiating the rent for the thela and the price for the fruits and vegetables he wants to buy from the commission agents.
Like most of the push cart vendors, after the ordeal at the market, Amanullah returns to his neighbourhood around 8am along with the fruits and vegetables he managed to buy from the market. After his breakfast, Amanullah’s starts selling from 8:30 in the morning and ends at 7pm in the evening.
On a good day, Amanullah sells all his fruits and vegetables at the end of the day with no inventory left, which means he should ideally be left with around Rs. 500 per day. However, that is not the actual amount that Amanullah gets to take home, as you can see from the picture below Amanullah needs to part with Rs. 200 (half his daily earnings) for getting the vegetables on credit and an additional Rs. 50 for renting the push cart. That leaves Amanullah with just Rs. 250 per day. An earning of Rs. 250 pushes Amanullah below the minimum wages which is barely enough for Amanullah to take care of his family’s needs.
Organic Thelawala is attempting to make a difference by:
n Removing the drudgery of early morning ordeal with commission agents by bringing the produce to their door step by 7:30am thereby saving 3-4 hours of early morning commute to the market
n Providing the fruits and vegetables at a fair price direct from the farmer cutting the commission agents
n Trying to break the commission agents’ cartel by providing free thelas to the push-cart vendors
n Providing high quality and healthy organic fruits and vegetables at a reasonable price, we are targeting our prices to not be more than 10-15% higher than the HOPCOMS prices, thereby making it affordable to a common / middle-class households
n Per research, fruits, vegetables, chili and cotton consume almost 45% of the pesticides / chemicals used in agriculture, switching to organic fruits and vegetables makes a huge positive impact on bio-diversity, soil contamination, water pollution and air
Why use thelawala’s instead of selling in modern retail outlets and super markets?
n Organic Thelawala’s use the “Thelawala’s” / “push-cart” vendors as opposed to selling in modern retail outlets and super markets for couple of reasons as below:
n Using “Thelawala’s” promotes micro-entrepreneurship and puts higher income in the hands of the Thelawala’s
n Rather than pay 35% – 40% premium to the modern retail outlets and super markets we put more money in the hands of the farmers and Thelawala’s and make it less expensive for the consumer
n All our fruits are picked fresh from the farms and get delivered to the customers fresh and are not refrigerated
n With this model,Organic Thelawala is attempting to help the vendors like Amanullah earn Rs.500 every day which is double the earning from earlier traditional model.

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