Business Today

Rural liberator

With village youth comprising three-fourths of its employee base, BVG India has struck upon a unique — and cost-competitive — business model in facilities management and support services.

Anusha Subramanian | Print Edition: September 20, 2009

He is from Rahimatpur village in Maharashtra’s Satara district. His family moved to Pune when he was 12. His mother was a municipal school teacher in Pune. He lost his father when he was 17. He grew up in a 10x10 room along with his younger brother, mother and his grandparents. He went on to get a degree in engineering from VIT (Vishwakarma Institute of Technology) Pune and paid his fees by tutoring diploma students, selling jams and pickles door-to-door and taking up painting contracts.

BVG India’s CMD Hanmant R. Gaikwad (sitting) and Vice Chairman Umesh Mane (standing to his right) along with workers from the mechanised cleaning and landscaping department.
BVG India’s CMD Hanmant R. Gaikwad (sitting) and Vice Chairman Umesh Mane (standing to his right) along with workers from the mechanised cleaning and landscaping department.

Today, Hanmant R. Gaikwad, 37, is Chairman & Managing Director of a Rs 200-crore company. But wait, here’s where this rags-to-riches story takes a twist. Gaikwad didn’t make his crores by hitting the big-city trail and starting up some cutting edge venture. Rather, he dug his heels into his home turf—and even as he emerged as a messiah for the mass of rural unemployed, Gaikwad discovered a huge virtually untapped catchment area for a manpower-intensive business that neither calls for fancy degrees nor corpulent pay packets.

Gaikwad is the man who founded Bharat Vikas Group (BVG) India, one of the country’s largest facilities management companies based out of Chinchwad near Pune. BVG India provides non-core activities such as mechanised housekeeping, landscaping & gardening, and security services to private and government institutions with the help of a 16,000-strong ready-to-move and trained and pan-India workforce.

One of those employees is Bablukumar Pandey, a 22-year-old who came to Pune from a village in Uttar Pradesh in 2006. Pandey sold fruits for a living outside Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation’s Yashwantrao Chavan Government Hospital. During this time, he would watch uniformed boys of his age group working in the hospital. He got curious one day and started enquiring about the kind of job they do. In six months, Pandey was one of the helpers doing mechanised cleaning work at the hospital.

BVG India
Founder: Hanmant R. Gaikwad, 37
Focus: Provides non-core activities such as mechanised housekeeping, landscaping & gardening, security services, etc., to private and government institutions by hiring mostly rural youth.
Scale of business: Turnover of Rs 200 crore; targeting Rs 300 crore by March 2010. Profit margins are in the range of 10-12 per cent.
Presence: Pan-India presence with a 16,000- strong ‘ready-to-move’ and trained workforce across 13 states through a network of 28 branches.
Investors: Kotak Private Equity invested Rs 30 crore for a minority stake last year. Plans to go public in 12-18 months.

For Gaikwad, youth like Pandey are the fuel that keeps the BVG engine humming. And that the promoter himself is no stranger to the hard life, perhaps, allows him to empathise with those who rush to him for work. They’ve been rushing to him ever since the mid ’90s—from his hometown— when Gaikwad landed a job at the Tata Motors’ Chinchwad plant as a graduate trainee. Before that, when in the third year of college, he started a foundation called Bharat Vikas Pratishthan (BVP) to help the youth from his hometown. BVP would accept donations, which would be used to educate the underprivileged in his hometown.

At Tata Motors, Gaikwad would on a regular—and informal—basis supply the company with youth from Satara whenever it was looking for people. The breakthrough came when Tata Motors was on the look out for a housekeeping contractor for its mintnew Indica plant. Gaikwad proposed that the contract be given to BVP. Tata Motors agreed. That’s when BVP began operations in 1997 as a housekeeping company with just eight employees.

In three years, BVP had grown into a 200-strong outfit, with Tata Motors as its only client. In 2000, Gaikwad called it a day at Tata Motors, converted the foundation into a deemed limited company, renamed it BVG India and extended its operations to include services such as landscaping & gardening, security services and transport & logistics.

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