Nandini is a social entrepreneurship
Q: How did you came up with the idea of ‘GreenMango’ and the name?
Before launching GreenMango, Yasmina McCarty (GreenMango co-founder) and I worked together in nearly a dozen countries where we met countless small business owners who were struggling to grow their businesses and make ends meet. These business owners could not afford traditional marketing channels such as advertising and were practically invisible to customers located just a few kilometers away. As a result, their businesses suffered and they rarely reached their income potential. On the flip side, we saw an increasing number of young professionals and middle-class households in urban areas throughout India struggling to find the basic services they need on a daily basis. They were frustrated by how difficult it could be to find a reliable plumber to fix a leaky sink in a hurry or a good tailor who could do a quality stitch or a tutor who had good experience in a specific subject matter. We built GreenMango to act as the bridge between these two worlds – the low-income, offline small business owner and the middle/high-income, online professional. The name of GreenMango came from one particular entrepreneur who touched and ultimately inspired us to start GreenMango. Malou Bacani is a green mango vendor in Baguio City in the Philippines, where Yasmina was raised. For the past 15 years, she has worked 10 hours a day, 7 days a week selling green mangos on the street, but she never earns more than $3 a day. She continues to work hard and save so that her daughter can attend university and have a better life. But given Malou’s income level, it is not clear whether she will ever achieve her goal. GreenMango was created for the hundreds of thousands of hardworking small business owners like Malou, who dream of a better life for themselves and their families.
Q: You may actually be talking to small businessmen who hardly understand anything about Internet. So how is your experience working with them?
One of our real advantages is that we have a sales team that is out in the neighbourhoods where these small business owners live and work. Every day they are talking to these business owners and educating them about GreenMango and the value of advertising their services on our website. While many of these small entrepreneurs may not be active users of the internet, they easily grasp the importance of reaching more customers than those that live in their neighbourhood and have been very open to a service that will help them grow their business.
Q: What are your plans for expansion in other cities. Is scalability an issue for GreenMango?
Actually, scalability was an objective we identified early on and knew had to be built into our model. Our goal was to create an efficient and scalable model that could be quickly and easily rolled out to all of the major metropolitan cities across India and then to other emerging markets, primarily in Southeast Asia. In our first 18 months of operations, we have refined our model based on our experiences in Hyderabad and we are now starting to execute on our expansion plan. With our second office in Bangalore now fully operational, we anticipate quickly moving into other Indian cities.
Q: What is your message for upcoming social entrepreneurs?
I hope more young professionals in India take the risk and jump into an entrepreneurial venture. It is absolutely the greatest learning experience you could ever have – no matter whether the business fails or succeeds. Of course, it is risky and it is hard to give up a stable, comfortable salary and take on something of your own where nothing is guaranteed. But if you are passionate about creating something of your own, about building a business from the ground up…and if you are willing to face the obstacles and challenges that inevitably come with being an entrepreneur, then it’s definitely a risk worth taking.