Posts Tagged ‘distribution’

Eight days a week

January 21, 2008


It took an all-night train ride to get here from Hyderabad, but that’s nothing.  Now that I’m riding on the back of a two-wheeler on a sunny Tuesday morning in rural Andhra Pradesh, it was well worth the trip.  Today, I’m shadowing Surya Prakash, one of the District Coordinators at Scojo.

Surya pulls his motorcycle over to the side of the road to take a call.  I take the opportunity to stretch my hips and legs.  I am not a yogi yet! It’s a 70 km ride out to Rajam pali, the village where Surya’s team is hosting an eye camp today.  His phone rings off the hook.  For good reason: Surya manages 35 Vision Entrepreneurs.  He checks in with them several times a week to help them plan upcoming camps and to track their sales progress. 

We get to the village. I see a new Vision Entrepreneur putting up the banners at the edge of the park where the camp is being held.  They’ve gotten permission to use the office of the Sarpanch (a local government representative) for the day.  Prospective customers have already lined up, giving their information at the front door and waiting on the porch to have their eyes screened.  Kids from the school across the park have snuck over to peek in the windows, resisting elders who shoo them away.  Be kind to them, I think, these are future Scojo customers!

The Vision Entrepreneurs have a lot of flexibility – they can determine their own schedule.  Some of them use it as supplemental income; some make it their full time jobs.  Regardless, they all depend on Surya.  They need new inventory and marketing materials for their camps but most importantly, guidance on how to sell.  “Get me your reports and then we can talk about it!”  He says to one of his team members with a smile.  Selling reading glasses in villages far from your home can be lonely work.  Which is why Surya has instituted team practices: Vision Entrepreneurs frequently go to support each other’s camps without a share of the earnings, knowing they’ll get the same support reciprocated. 

After the mid-day heat cooled off, we headed back to town. Surya dropped me off before going to his office to do paperwork.  “What would you do if you had more time?” I asked.  Surya would rather spend it with his team.  It’s easy to imagine rural distribution models from afar, but they only comes to life through people like Surya who make “work” a verb.