Vidit Aatrey, Founder & CEO, Meesho says that it may have been tough times for them, but it has been an even tougher period for their women entrepreneurs. In order to ride through the Covid crisis, the company thought of some ideas that had never come up before. “We suggested that entrepreneurs can come and take loans of small ticket sizes of $100 or $150 from us, and we will figure out later when to take it back. People were super happy with the hope of such help coming forward,” Aatrey said while speaking at the two day ‘Facebook Fuel for India’ virtual event.
Besides this, Meesho also suggested making masks at home. “We offered to buy it from them. However, after lockdown lifted, things changed. Three months later, the entrepreneurs were doing 25-30% more business per month than what they did pre-Covid. We also reduced commissions on our platforms massively during this time,” he highlighted.
Taking cognisance of the role of ecommerce during this time, Aatrey noted how digital channels helped immensely in scaling up for businesses. “All our entrepreneurs are successful, making more income per month and seeing their business scale up because of all the tailwinds that came in, especially ecommerce because of the pandemic,” he added.
Starting operations in 2015, Meesho, which means My Shop, was co-founded by two IIT Delhi graduates and has 10 million entrepreneurs who actively use the platform across the varied categories of fashion, home, lifestyle, decor and beauty among others. The company helps resellers and small businesses build brands by leveraging social media. Recalling the initial days, Aatrey said that they discovered that WhatsApp and Facebook is what the entrepreneurs primarily used. “First six months, we just had few WhatsApp groups to interact with this audience. We also invested in training some of them with content and videos in their own language. We saw some massive amount of scaling up that happened for some of them in the process,” he reminisced.
One discovery for the company in their initial journey also was the fact that a lot of the users on their platform were women, running their businesses from home. “In India, 70% of women after marriage, either don’t work or drop out of the workforce. But a lot of them are ambitious, very educated and want to have some professional identity. We wanted to give each and every small business their own online store,” he stated.
Aatrey hopes that with digital adoption, the social constraints for women are no longer barriers and they have the ease of starting their business from home, while also fulfilling their other responsibilities.