While most Indians know about the devastating Uttarakhand floods in 2013, the state also witnessed another lesser-known tragedy in the aftermath. Large-scale migration turned nearly 1,000 villages into ghost villages.
Believing that making villages self-sustainable could help reduce the migration, former hotel management professional Roopesh Rai teamed up with Bandana Rai, Mani Mahesh and Pradeep Pawar and partnered with an army officer (Retd.) Col Ajay Kothiyal to start Green People in 2015.
Today, Green People runs two key initiatives — The Goat Village and Bakri Chhap. The former is a homestay venture that works towards reviving abandoned villages by leveraging their tourism potential, while the latter helps market indigenous farm produce from local communities.
"In less than three years, the lower sub-Himalayan trek of Nag Tibba has seen a 40-fold increase in footfalls, from only 1,200 annual participants to 47,000 trekking enthusiasts in a year. With Bakri Chhap, we work with nearly 80 farmers directly and over 500 farmers indirectly. We provide fair trade prices by eliminating middlemen and supplying quality produce to luxury hotels," says Roopesh.
WhatsApp has been a key enabler for the social enterprise.
"We started using WhatsApp since the day of inception. We knew that dependence on emails would not work as our rural workforce was intimidated by the idea of reporting on emails. But they all knew about WhatsApp and had no apprehensions about using it."
Sharing more details on how they have leveraged WhatsApp to streamline operations, Roopesh says, "We created groups based on departments and sites and the entire reporting and micro-management takes place through these WhatsApp groups."
Staying connected on WhatsApp has also helped the team mitigate emergencies. In addition to staying connected with the team, Green People also uses WhatsApp to share information about new destinations and new products with their customers.