SMV Wheels, Varanasi, India

SMV Wheels’ mission is to provide cycle vocational support to rickshaw drivers and cart operators across India.It envisions a community transformed by the increased confidence and disposable income that comes with asset ownership; the peace of mind provided by the security of insurance; freedom from police harassment made possible by legal licenses; and the reduced labour efforts that come with technological innovations. The SMV Wheels' promise is one of upward economic mobility, making the drivers of today, the entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

SMV aims to provide dignity, legitimacy, and legal access to rickshaw drivers, to enable them to be recognised as professionals, and to gain security, stability, and economic mobility.

  • To become the pre-eminent seller of technologically advanced rickshaws and carts in India.
  • To profitably serve close to 4,000 customers within 6 years.
  • To continue to innovate the rickshaws and carts offered, thereby reducing the burden on drivers.
  • To continue to enhance customer income opportunities through value added services, such as advertising space, convenient repair and maintenance facilities, and access to new client networks.

SMV Wheels builds on the ideas of asset based entrepreneurship, giving rickshaw drivers and cart operators the means to self-employment. They sell rickshaws and carts but give customers an extended payment period of up to sixty-two weeks. The provision of extended payment terms fills a critical gap in the market for their customers and gives an alternative to costly daily rentals which are currently the primary form of access to rickshaws, and a chance at upward economic mobility. Payments equate to less than 15% of the weekly income of drivers and include the cost of the rickshaw, insurance and license, operating costs, and a c.10% margin.

This bottom-up pricing model allows SMV to recycle capital to new customers and fund expansion over time. Advertising space on the rickshaws is also sold to supplement repayment income. A critical part of their consumer offering is the vocational support provided. This includes the provision of legal licenses—something drivers cannot legally access as daily renters, insurance, uniforms, photo identity cards, and access to no frills banking. These services significantly enhance quality of life for the rickshaw drivers/cart operators, and they also improve SMV Wheels’s competitive position, and reduce repayment risk.
Please see their website for more information.