It was during her stint with SKS Microfinance and Ujjivan Financial Services that Ajaita Shah discovered that, although there was demand for products in rural areas, a poor distribution network meant products never reached the people in rural areas. So the US-based Shah and co-founder Daniel Tomlinson, whom she met when he was working with rural retail and entrepreneurship company Drishtee, decided to start a rural sales and distribution company, Frontier Markets.
The aim? To bring high-quality products at very low prices to the people at the bottom of the pyramid. The Jaipur-based company researches and tests the products before selling through agents. It started last year with solar-energy lamps, sourced from companies selling clean energy products such as Bengaluru’s Duron Energy and Mumbai’s Greenlight Planet. The company’s already covered 300 villages in Rajasthan and aims to cover the state by end-2013. “We’ll expand to Andhra Pradesh by end-December 2012 and cover five more states by 2015,” says Shah.