I’m often asked about the seed of 20.95 Ventures. Many ventures are borne out of economic necessity, or maybe a founder’s passion for a certain product. Sometimes, entrepreneurs are keen to fill a void in the marketplace. None of this applies to 20.95 Ventures.
This venture has its roots in an event organised by a Mutual Fund House in 2010. I was its head of sales and marketing then.
A question posed by one of our distributors left me with a strange feeling of unrest.
Why is it, he enquired, that distributors, suppliers, contractors and every significant contributor in the value chain do not have access to the same level of social security benefits as corporate team members or employees?
The answer had eluded me then, but the thought sneaked into my mind like an unannounced visitor. Should the organised alone have privileged access to health, retirement benefits, social security and the likes?
If nature gives water, air, and light unconditionally and abundantly, why should humankind create systems that are so discriminatory? Corporates might not be entirely insensitive to these value-chain players. Perhaps, they’re keen to make a difference but are hamstrung by the absence of an organised approach or mechanism.
A few months later, I organised another event in Patna, this time to offer social security benefits to distributors who function independently. That man, whose probing question set the ball rolling for this particular welfare scheme, was among the 300-odd invitees. Fittingly, it was he who launched the programme.
For me, the journey had just begun. In promoting a welfare scheme, I had made a humble beginning, but great power was waiting to be unleashed to create something infinitely large. Somewhere, 20.95 had taken shape in my mind. It required prodigious work and a certain depth of involvement.
Remarkable stories kept moving me, especially that of a distributor who was going to drop his daughter to college. They met with an accident, but he could access Rs 25 lakhs of health cover to support the family. We were not only able to provide him with the resources his family needed but were also able to facilitate insurance for so many others whose loved ones were left unsecured and unprotected in the face of an emergency.
What seems like a miracle in this part of the world should be a regular occurrence. Families deserve the fundamental right to a healthy and stable life in case they lose their bread-winners or find themselves in a medical emergency.
Parallelly, while leading various functions and even organisation, I observed that corporates across industries have a strong welfare intent, but unfortunately a lack of organised and comprehensive platform to channelise this intent is sorely missing. Budgets, policies, and teams are all in place but the bridge to reach to the value chain partners is not there.
This, dear reader, is the premise of 20.95. Goodness and business merge in this holistic welfare platform to serve swathes of business communities, particularly the vulnerable, unorganised sector. Every entry is recorded and translates into some social-security benefit and more, something unheard of in the past.
I have no misgivings about 20.95’s scale, longevity and limitless potential. For sure, it has a long way to go. At this point, 20.95 is a drop with the promise of an ocean. With the strong team, leading-edge technology platform, and your partners, I am certain it will redefine the business landscape.