At 14, Irfan Alam was managing a stock portfolio worth Rs 40 lakh for his father’s friends. By the time he was 17, the boy from Bihar was itching to start his own business. The idea came to him during a rickshaw ride home from college in Begusarai.
“I was hot and thirsty but there wasn’t a drink to be found. Then it struck me that the rickshaw-puller could easily become a mobile vendor stocking things like mineral water and juice,” says Irfan. He fine-tuned his business plan at IIMAhmedabad . The enterprise, Samman, was born in 2007, transforming the humble rickshaw into a marketing engine.
Alam’s customized rickshaws not only offered smoother rides; they became vehicles for outdoor advertising. The rickshaw-pullers, who were given uniforms, identity cards and vehicles for free, could earn extra by selling everything from newspapers to mobile-recharge coupons.