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Vendors turn into Entrepreneurs as Villagers get exposed to Branded Goodies.

Rajasthan CM’s vision of connecting rural regions via multi-brand retail outlets, comes true with the state receiving Annapurna Bhandar as its first ‘local brand’, which is nowhere less than its urban versions– Spencer, Big Bazar or Reliance Fresh. Rajasthan government has set new standards for PDS (Public Distribution Systems) with 5,000 ‘fair price’ shops built in 200-feet space that is easily accessible by the natives.

The ‘Annapurna’ Timeline

August 2014, Dungarpur: On her visit to Tamatia village, CM Vasundhara Raje came across a local hawker selling groceries alongside cement, fertilizers and other PDS items. It sparked an idea and the CM approached Dr. Subodh Agarwal, Principal Secretary, Food Department, to develop something akin the idea of rural supermarkets. The objective was to bring top-notch ration items and other necessities on a single platform.

September 2015: After rigorously working in collaboration with state government for one year, the team came up with India’s first public-private partnership in PDS. The groundwork for ration shops was laid along the wide 30-feet roads of Rajasthan and 5,000 willing retailers were invited to be a part of this program.

October 2016: Within 2 years, 14 Future Price distribution centres were set up at distinct locations to supply 150 varieties spanning across 45 different categories. The shops sold grocery, toiletries, ration and nearly the entire general merchandise, at prices lesser than the counterparts available in urban markets.

This is how Annapurna Bhandar Yojana came into existence. Today, initial investment of 50 crores has reproduced a monthly turnover of 11 crores across 5,000 shops and created novel employment opportunities for 1,500 people. Some of these shops make up to Rs. 11 lakhs in a month, a powerful number for a solo establishment!

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How an Idea Transformed the Lives of Rajasthan Natives

Including Annapurna Bhandars on the list, Rajasthan has approximately 25,641 fair shops in state that supply best quality products to rural and urban capitals. The concept attracted several brands to invest in rural settings, whereas villagers zealously enjoy their newfound ‘entrepreneur’ status. This newfangled Annapurna Bhandar scheme has opened up possibilities for globalisation, investment, employment and connectivity in far-flung villages. Compared to last two decades, rural regions enjoy high-end nutritional quality and better standards of living now.

Girdhari Lal (Age 37, location: Nogava) is a farmer-turned retailer, who witnessed an upward trend in his monthly income from Rs. 10,000 (as a farmer and ex-ration sell) to Rs. 36,000 (as merchant) in just one year. His shop is a centre of attraction for natives living in Haryana-Rajasthan border. Customers from both the states love the ease with which best quality products are available in his outlet. Consequently, he sold goods worth Rs. 12 Lakhs till March 2016.

Annapurna Bhandars have empowered many destitute women like Kamla (Nehru Nagar, Jaipur) who struggle to meet both the ends. The shops symbolize their independence, self-sufficiency and financial adeptness. Countless others like Deen Dayal Swami (Chaisala), Mohan Singh (Haathoj), Suresh Chand and Omprakash Sharma (Ram Garh, Alwar) share somewhat similar story.

By providing country natives with better avenues for skill development, a legitimate source of income, required training in retail management and superior development opportunities, Annapurna Bhandars have created a benchmark for food packaging, distribution, investment and retailing. As of now, Rajasthan plays a host to teams from neighbouring states that arrive to pick up these practices for future implementation in their respective areas.

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