New Delhi: All-women logistic company Hey DeeDee which till now had a fleet of two-wheelers for last mile deliveries on Wednesday is now going to foray into cargo logistics. The company which had footprints in Maharashtra and Bengaluru is also eyeing operations in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The move comes after Hey DeeDee received $500,000 pre-seed funding from Metaform Ventures LLC for foraying into wheeler warehouse to hub deliveries with women drivers in June.

In an interview with Mint, Revathi Roy, founder and CEO of Hey DeeDee talks about the project and the company’s expansion plans. Edited excerpts:

Q: Why did you plan to venture out into cargo logistics?

In 2007, I started with the first all women taxi service, followed by last-mile and mid-mile logistic deliveries. With people sitting and ordering from homes, last mile delivery is the biggest opportunity in the Indian market with e-commerce growing exponentially. Currently, anything and everything ranging from groceries, furniture, medicines, homeware, apparels and food are being delivered across the length and breadth of the country. However, with our fleet of two-wheelers and parcel sizes becoming big, we were finding that there was some constraints. Therefore, we decided to foray into cargo logistics with women drivers behind the four-wheelers.

Q: How many women will be employed from cargo-operations?

Initially we are looking at employing 250-300 women in a span of 3-4 months.

Q: Do you think there is huge job potential for women in cargo-logistics?

Absolutely! The best part is that there are fixed timings for women. A women can come out after finishing her family chores around 9am or 10am and is free by 5.30pm to go back home. Unlike passenger movement i.e. taxi where one has to pick up a passenger after office timings like 5pm and its get late for home if the drop locations are far from the taxi driving woman’s house.

Q: Are there any educational qualifications required for women to join Hey DeeDee cargo-logistics?

There was regulatory restriction from Regional Transport Office at some point of time to be 8th class pass for commercial licenses but that has been waived off. Although I personally believe that some kind of educational qualification is important for girls. When they go to deliver orders, they have to read addresses, packages etc. They have to be guided by the navigator. For all such works, basic education is really important.

Q: But Hey DeeDee’s two-wheeler fleet was owned by the women drivers. How will they manage four wheelers? They are expensive.

In the first phase of the four-wheelers logistics project, the company is going to own the vehicles. We have already booked 20 Tata Eco-Cargo and within 4-5 months we will have a fleet of 150-200 vehicles across in the four cities where Hey DeeDee is already present. These are Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune and Nagpur.

The reason we are using small cargo vehicles is because bigger vehicles are not very movable in the cities. There are several restrictions like heavy vehicles on roads are not allowed on several roads during day time and space constraint in residential areas. We don’t want women to face any kind of problems due to the vehicles they are driving. We have taken several things into the account while designing this.

Q: Do you have any plans to move out of these four cities where you already have your presence?

My focus is on Uttar Pradesh and Bihar where women empowerment is still to get its due. We are starting Uttar Pradesh where we will work in four cities - Lucknow, Allahabad, Kanpur and Varanasi. The operations initially will be limited to two-wheeler last mile delivery and later will expand our fleet with four-wheelers. I am also keen to have Hey DeeDee footprints in Bihar too.

Apart from women empowerment, another reason for picking up these two states is to initiate process of reverse migration. The reverse migration happens when someone creates jobs there. So it’s a pet project for me and I am keen on it. By November we will be in all the four cities of Uttar Pradesh.

One of my dream projects is to develop a chain for women farmers in rural areas where they can grow food and it is delivered by women in the cities directly. I am still studying the project.

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