Transforming The Informal Sector - A Conversation with Co-Founders of Broomees
We all see problems around us every day. Seldom does one try to delve deep into the problem to understand its complexities and come up with innovative ideas to solve it. Vaibhav Agrawal, Niharika Jain and Saurav Kumar are among the few passionate people who are determined to change the unpleasant situations around them. Broomees was born out of the need to correct the unfair treatment meted out to the people working in the informal sector and the wicked circumstances that create a barrier to prevent them from progressing further. To understand more about this venture and the ways in which it is transforming lives of the helpers, our writer Shraddha Khurana interviews the Co-founders of Broomees.
1. What inspired you to come up with the idea of Broomees?
We started Broomees to solve the problems that we have faced in our daily lives. We wanted to do something really basic – make lives easier for us as well as for those around us. We targeted the informal sector because it is majorly unorganized and the unprivileged face the brunt of it. There is zero dignity of work, unfair pay and poor working conditions for the helpers. We want to transform this sector and make things right – both for our customers and service providers. This is where our motivation truly comes from.
2. How did you reach out to the helpers?
We were in the middle of a pandemic and thus started small. We took baby steps and reached out to people in our localities. We spoke to various helpers and learnt how badly they had been hit because of the pandemic. We truly felt that it was our responsibility to help them. To begin with, we registered them as Broomees’ suppliers and provided them with employment opportunities whenever there was a client request. This was just the start and the word spread like fire. There was no looking back after that. The response was heart-warming and we started getting a huge number of calls every day. We have now started reaching out to these helpers by various other means such as posters, fliers, training institutes etc.
One such recent success story is of a struggling driver working with a cab service who we helped get a better job.
3. Can you tell us a little more about the story of the driver that you hired?
One day, one of the Co-Founders was travelling home from a friend’s place via a cab. During the entire ride, the conversation revolved around how the driver was struggling to make ends meet and wanted a full-time job. Wanting to help, the Co-Founder shared with him the possibility of him becoming a Broomees’ driver. The driver quickly agreed and gave his details. Almost a week later, a requirement for a driver came in. Broomees connected him to the client and now the helper is happily doing a full-time job which pays him 4 times his previous pay!
4. Your company was born out of the pandemic and the challenges that you have faced must be different from ones that companies usually do. Can you talk to us about that?
Our initial plan before the pandemic was, to begin with, household helps and related services as the main service lines. We saw a complete shift in the demand for such services and quickly adapted to the new normal and tweaked our business model. We launched services that did not require a helper to step into your house and hamper safety.
We also brainstormed on our Unique Selling Points. Safety and trust became more important along with our old USPs - flexibility and convenience. To make our helpers pandemic ready, we decided to train our helpers about all the necessary precautions that were to be followed to reduce the risk of transmission. Further, we provided masks and sanitizers to ensure increased safety.
5. The pandemic has brought tough times for all of us, but some of us have to suffer more than others. The informal sector has to bear a huge brunt. Can you share with us some of the experiences that the helpers you’ve hired went through?
While a lot of people faced massive problems, there isn’t any sector hit as badly as this one. You only get to know the extent of it when you actually interact with these people. They have no credible alternative sources of income. Very few people continued to pay their helpers for the months they didn’t work for. These people struggle to provide for one meal a day. It’s been very hard for them and it is our sincere attempt to make things better.
6. Naturally, there is a fear among people that domestic help might bring the virus with them. So are there any measures that you’re taking to ensure that maximum possible safety of the clients can be maintained?
As mentioned earlier, we are taking all the major measures to keep our customers as well as our helpers safe. We are training our helpers to maintain social distancing, wear gloves and masks, and wash hands frequently. Before servicing any request, we conduct thermal screening to keep a check on their temperatures. We also maintain a tracker and ensure no service providers have shown symptoms in the last 20 days.
7. How is your quality of service better than that of competitive brands?
We don’t have a direct competitor who is offering a platform with the range of services that we are servicing. Our USPs are also very different from even our indirect competitors. The kind of flexibility and ease of booking that we are offering is unparalleled. Further, our helpers are trained and also verified by the police. We also provide easy replacements and ensure maximum customer satisfaction.
8. Suppose I know someone who is in need to work. If I get in touch with you and recommend someone, would you take them into consideration?
Definitely! This goes without saying and this has been our conduct since day one. We encourage everyone to get us connected with people who are in need of work. We, in fact, would really appreciate this.
9. What does the future look like to you? Do you think that things will get better for the helpers soon or do think it’s a long road ahead?
The future looks very bright and promising! The demand is slowly but steadily increasing. Now more than ever, people have understood the real worth of helpers because they have had to do everything themselves. We hope that the pandemic is an eye-opener for all of us and we conduct ourselves better around these helpers.
11. As a brand, you’re doing a wonderful job. I want to ask you some steps that we, as individuals, can take to help the informal sector.
To start with, we need to be more empathetic towards everybody in general and especially more towards the helpers. They deserve to be treated with respect. We have seen how tough our daily lives have become without their help. The kind of financial issues they go through is hard to fathom! Let’s try and be better individuals and understand their misery. Negotiate less and allow advances when necessary!
When a humanitarian crisis strikes, it asks for a humanitarian response. This conversation with the Broomees team acts as a reminder for all of us to look beyond ourselves and understand the problems of those around us. We all need to stand in solidarity against the Coronavirus and the problems that it has brought forth, supporting each other in this journey to recovery. Take care of yourself, help yourself and additionally, take a step ahead and help the helpers as well.