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How Gromor Finance and Kaarigar Mandi’s partnership exemplifies the balance to trust and diligence

Rebuilding the livelihoods and market linkages for marginalized footwear-artisans: An inspiring story of collaboration and financial inclusion.
March 31st, 2023
Ankit Kumar Shoegaro along with the artisans

Photo provided by Ankit Kumar

Photo provided by Prerna and Shriti

Ankit Kumar, co-founder and CEO of Kaarigar Mandi (Shoegaro Fashions Pvt Ltd), supports the marginalized footwear-artisans in India. He persevered to work with footwear-artisans who were struggling to make ends meet, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. The situation of artisans deteriorated further due to increased inequality at the grassroots level. Ankit knew that the only way to support them was to re-connect them to the market and provide them with dignified work, as it was before the pandemic.

Ankit's efforts to rebuild the market-linkages for the footwear-artisans brought work from small retailers and wholesalers. Despite facing many failed attempts in convincing big brands in the industry, he finally found a prestigious footwear brand that would be willing to place orders with Kaarigar Mandi. This was a significant achievement for Ankit as getting a renowned brand as a client was difficult, especially for a for-profit social-enterprise. With this order, Ankit was finally able to get some much-needed capital for his business.

However, the advance payment that this client made was not enough to cover the capital expenditure required for such a large-scale order. Ankit was in a difficult position where he could not lose a big client as it was crucial for his rebuilding efforts, nor could he propose to take this order to the footwear artisans who were already facing the challenges of inequity and poverty post the pandemic.

Ankit along with his community

Photo shared by Ankit Kumar along with the community

Desperate for a solution, Ankit reached out to many stakeholders and friends, and eventually got to know about Shailesh Dixit through the community of social-innovators at Acumen. Shailesh is Co-Founder and CEO of Gromor Finance, a full-stack, tech-enabled financial services organization providing access to affordable capital for micro and small businesses in India. Shailesh is responsible for fostering ecosystem partnerships enabling financial inclusion of unserved small, formal/informal, gig business communities.

Ankit reached out to Shailesh to understand the scope of lending with just the invoice of amount and advance paid by their client. Upon Shailesh's due diligence on Ankit's work, he found the credibility of their work through people who knew Ankit, rather than holding the balance sheet as the only evidence of work - which for many for-profit social-enterprises was in bad shape due to the continuous lockdown and pandemic situation post 2020.

Shailesh was able to build trust in Ankit as he shared the same experience in the Acumen Fellows Program. Ankit and Shailesh spoke about the possibilities, and Shailesh was able to provide a line of credit. This was timely for Ankit, and he was able to return the credit-line before the promised timeline. This catalyzed Ankit's work, and he could build more impact.

Ankit was able to bring in another vendor, but this time, the vendor only provided a purchase order without an invoice or advance payment. Gromor Finance's general practices involve providing a credit line to those who have procured an invoice from vendors as that reduces the risk factor for the repayment. However, Shailesh was committed to helping Ankit and was able to create an exception and provide an additional credit line based on trust and history of work. Being part of the Acumen Foundry was a big factor towards this ripple effect of trust, transparency, and transaction.

Thanks to Ankit's resilience and determination, he was able to rebuild the market for footwear-artisans along with Shailesh's mindset to understand real challenges faced by grassroot-entrepreneurs in the rebuilding process. Their collaboration allowed for access to affordable capital for micro and small businesses, especially for the footwear artisans, who most needed this. 

Ankit and Shailesh Blog Banner


Through a series of spotlights, we will highlight some of the inspiring projects and collaborations that have emerged from the Acumen Foundry. These stories will demonstrate the power of partnerships and the impact that can be achieved when individuals come together to challenge the status quo and create a better world for all.