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COVID-19 has caused a huge dent in India's economy. Businesses all over the country are facing losses like never before, with people losing the fruits of years of hard work in just a few weeks.

A series of lockdowns imposed from March this year led to restrictions on people's movements outside their homes. Mass layoffs or the lack of customers have significantly reduced people's earnings or even brought them to a halt.

Aman is one such business owner in the state of Rajasthan. After years of working as a clerk with a small advertising agency, he managed to save enough money to open his own sweet shop with his wife.

Once the highlight of his clientele in the city of Jaisalmer, Aman soon found himself fighting for the survival of his store. Restrictions that required him to keep his shop closed for several weeks took a toll on his newly started venture.

Without a digital presence, there was no way for him to take orders online and fulfil them from his house. All this changed when his neighbour's daughter told him about Dukaan.

The app is the brainchild of a young man named Suumit Shah from the town of Satara in Maharashtra and led Aman to believe that there was light at the end of the tunnel.

Dukaan enables local stores to become digital and use WhatsApp to sell their products. All a dukandaar needs to do is download the app, register their business, which takes less than a minute, and list their products. The link to their store can be shared with customers via WhatsApp for direct orders.

What's brilliant about Dukaan is that, unlike most digital initiatives that feel alien to those who aren't comfortable with technology, it uses a very familiar avenue to help people sell online.

Suumit's story itself is an inspiration. A boy who once ran errands at a small shop owned by his uncle, he later went on to complete his engineering and changed the lives of thousands of small entrepreneurs across India.

As a quick learner, he picked up key web designing skills from his college roommate, learnt the art of digital marketing from online courses and started his own business, Risemetric, along with his existing CTO Subhash Choudhary.

He became a successful entrepreneur, working with big corporates such as Cred and McDonald's, among others. However, the idea to start Dukaan struck thanks to a text message from a Jockey outlet which said they were now accepting orders on WhatsApp.

What initially seemed like a long shot, soon made him realize that this is something that could actually benefit small business owners. In 48 hours, he along with his teammates Subhash, Anuraag and Kaustub created the Dukaan app for Android users, allowing them to move their businesses online.

In just 20 days, this application saw tremendous success! More than 1,50,000 stores had listed 5,00,000 products across 40 different categories in 400 different cities. What takes the cake, however, is the number of orders placed - 75,000, clearly showing that this application was significantly benefiting these entrepreneurs.

The idea of a Digital India has long been in the works with the government bringing in various reforms to achieve this. Suumit Shah's Dukaan is a noble success story in further helping our country achieve this dream. It realizes that India's small entrepreneurs, who often live outside the bustling metropolitan cities, need to be brought into the digital arena.

In Aman's own words in an email that he sent to Suumit, he said "Kisi digital platform par bharosa rakhna hum jaise chhote dukandaro ke liye mushkil hai, lekin aapka app ekdum alag hai. Agar mein yeh app use karna shuru nahi karta, toh shayad mujhme yeh email bhejne ka confidence bhi nahi aata."

Perhaps all that India's small and medium entrepreneurs need is for someone to truly understand their needs and their inhibitions in trying to bring them into the digital world. They can trust that the shift to digital platforms will indeed benefit them.

Suumit Shah is one of a kind and a gift to the nation. He truly understands how technology can be leveraged to work to the benefit of those who need it most.

Source: Digpu

Disclaimer: This content is distributed by Digpu News Network. No HT journalist is involved in creation of this content.

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