‘Apnaklub’ changes rural landscape

Developed by Indian student in Harvard Business School, the platform allows kiranas to function more efficiently

The citizens living in villages or small cities in India rely on local Kiranas, the equivalent of a US variety store, for their essentials such as cooking oil, rice, or toothpaste. However, they function on an inefficient and outdated business model. Harvard Business School alumnus, Shruti founded ApnaKlub, a digital B2B FMCG platform where shop owners can order fast-moving consumer goods online. Kiranas are a mainstay of the country’s $932 billion retail economy.

“Kiranas are limited-inventory, 2,000- to 5,000-square-foot shops that don’t always get on-time deliveries or access to affordable credit,” explains Shruti. “These are micro-businesses that run on tight margins. If shopkeepers run out of something, they have to travel to a larger market by scooter, rickshaw, or bus to restock. Their orders are relatively small, so they can’t negotiate on prices or credit terms.”

After witnessing her uncle’s Kirana go out of business due to pricing and product selection issues, she came up with her new venture. ApnaKlub (Hindi for “Our Club”), offers a more efficient purchase and distribution model in the form of a digital solution for shop owners, allowing them to order the goods they require online. These orders are then fulfilled by local wholesalers who consolidate the orders from nearby Kiranas along with others. This innovative system enables shop owners to access a wide range of products through a simplified process, leveraging the power of technology and collaboration among local businesses.

“We’re like a Costco or Sam’s Club, but for retailers,” Shruti explains. Once the orders are in hand, ApnaKlub—which leases warehouse space and trucks—sources the requested products from brand-name manufacturers and distribute them to the wholesalers, who deliver within a reliable time frame. We leverage technology to bring our customers to supply consistency, better profit margins, and access to more brands and SKUs,” Shruti says.

The Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi graduate, who finished at the top of her class, came to HBS to develop the skills necessary to start an impact investment fund for small firms in India. She already had expertise in consulting and impact investing.

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