Motivation: The Pain Point

Bandhu in Hindi translates to a friend, brother, or relative who may be a source of support. Many in rural India make seasonal migration decisions by trusting the opinion of a bandhu. A bandhu, who lives in an urban area, can offer a migrant access to a job or an initial place to stay.

Others trust the verbal promises of a middleman, who can offer daily wage labor employment and assure them some kind of housing arrangement, like accommodation on the worksite itself.

Both of these arrangements have historically persisted worldwide, providing a bridge from rural to urban through the middlemen who build such bridges. Yet it is not fair to the vast majority of those in this system—the seasonal migrants themselves.

A migrant may manage to secure a stable job—but dignified affordable housing in urban areas is incredibly hard to find and secure for the long term. Urban employers, too, constantly struggle to find and retain appropriately skilled blue-collar workers, who form as much as 60% of the workforce in India’s cities. And both employers and migrating workers rely on middlemen, who themselves face great risks and pressures procuring the right workers, for the right job, at the right time.

Thus, the entire process of choosing to migrate is full of blind turns for all involved, with no single stakeholder having a complete view. One wrong step for a low-wage worker can have serious lifelong consequences. The latest COVID-19 crisis has exposed how easily these migrants may find themselves stranded without support.

(Photo Credit: Reuters)

Our mobile phone platform, Bandhu, puts information in the hands of these workers so that they can make more informed migration decisions.

 

It does so by creating matches between employers looking for low/moderate skill workers, potential migrants/workers, and owners/occupants offering informal affordable housing on rent. It also shifts the contractor's private incentives in a way that benefits the entire system.

 

By providing the potential migrants with competing offers of bundled employment and housing, for similar wage differentials, the Bandhu platform can minimize risks for the worker while still leaving the final choice up to him or her.

(Photo Credit: Ravi Choudhary)

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