If there’s hyperlocal grocerystores, e-commerce logistics, mobility, and transportation, why there isn’t a library in a hyperlocal location?
It is similar to hitting the bull’s-eye when it comes with the double benefit of generating micro-entrepreneurs for women, right?
The story begins in 2019. In the US in the US, after Sheetal Shahfound herself spending a large amount of time in local libraries in the public library during the holiday season with her two children.
The libraries fascinated us to the point that I was inspired to join the worlds of reading and building community for children in India as well, she tells Business Headers After returning, Sheetal took the first step in encouraging children to read by establishing a library for children in her community at her house in Bengaluru.
When I first started the library within my apartment complex, I also brought my son to be involved since he loves reading and was thrilled to pass them on to others, says Sheetal, noting how the idea was embraced.
At first the books were accessible for borrowing at no cost and Sheetal utilized a library program that was simple. I tested the model for free for three to four months in order to try out the idea and determine the interest she says. She named the venture Toolo,meaning neighbourhoods in Finnish prior to launching an MVP website with edited books as well as a paid model for borrowing books in July.
I managed the library for between six and eight months. That was when I began to understand the expectations of the customers, their needs and operational issues, she says.
The company was founded in August of 2020. Archana Nandakumar–one of Sheetal’s neighbors also an early Toolo member who would frequently host storytelling sessions for the young Toolo users, entered the company as a co-founder and CTO. Archana manages technology and product as well as community development for the users. Chandni RAMNANNE Another early Toolo member was added as the third Co-founder just three months ago. She is responsible for the operations as well as preschool partnerships.
After having a start-up capital of the sum of Rs 10 lakh, Sheetal and Archana created the platform, and also creating the infrastructure for physical libraries, and then expanding them by leveraging women micro-entrepreneurs.
These authors bought used books in kilo quantities from sellers all over India and then curated them and had professionally printed and laminated.
Presently, Toolo powers 21 libraries and has 15 of them managed through Toolo representatives in Bengaluru and six across metros and cities such as Delhi NCR Pune as well as others.
In the average, these physical libraries is home to twelve to fifteen children as members. And Toolo’s online library, which opened in 2021, is home to nearly 1,500 registered users.
Enabling women entrepreneurs
The year 2020 was the time for the first Sheetal joined the very first Toolo ambassadors in Delhi.
Toolo ambassadors are Toolo ambassadors are a female businesswoman who joins the company as a franchisee. She is able to utilize the cloud library and also benefit from a library of books for her own library in her own home.
Sheetal states, Toolo’s product for women micro-entrepreneurs allows them to set up, in place, manage and expand the cloud library they have. We offer them an online library platform with a carefully curated collection comprising 500 volumes, branding tools and growth marketing tools, storytelling workshops, and other added value services that create an enjoyable learning experience and experience that their younger members.
Additionally, the company offers ambassadors with weekly training on driving the number of subscribers marketing strategies, growing marketing tools and technologies.
Toolo costs ambassadors the sum of Rs 60,000 for the franchise. In return, they get 80 percent of the profits from their library. the remainder goes to the company that is starting the.
A typical library can begin earning money in the first year, with around 100 people using the library. In the average, with every member paying a cost of 449 rupees each month, an entrepreneur could make anywhere from the range of Rs 35,000-40,000 per month. Naturally, this all depends on the amount of effort that ambassadors make in their operations, marketing and operations., says Sheetal.
The Bengaluru-based Farisa Sheikh is a mother of two , and an official Toolo ambassador. When she was taking an absence from her work, Farisa was looking for an alternative to returning to work, when she discovered Toolo’s idea.
I wanted to find a job that I could do at home and not having to sacrifice my time with my family. The idea of being an entrepreneur as well as managing an enterprise from the convenience of my own home was exciting and feasible, says Farisa, who was also enthralled by the idea of sharing the pleasure of reading to children within her community.
Her library is curated at her house which is accessible to children who belong to her community each day of the week.
I would like to invite children to join me in reading the various types of books. I will encourage them to are looking to relax and read. If I’m planning to go out, I make sure to be aware of it in advance, she says.
Another Toolo ambassador Noida-based Mira Swarup, was intrigued by Toolo because she thought it could provide her daughter of nine an insight into the world of entrepreneurship.
She states, When Toolo came along it seemed like an amazing idea, and my first thought was: could we create something that my daughter would be interested in? Would this be a chance for her to expose herself to the world of entrepreneurship?
In their role as Toolo ambassadorsfor the organization, Mira as well as her child have access to a library set up at their home, which is located within a gated community in Noida that is open two times a day for 2 hours, for the children of the community. Additionally, Mira’s daughter is involved in the delivery of books and acquisition discussions about strategy.
Libraries that are built for the future
In promoting reading among children, Sheetal says, A majority of parents approach me and ask, ‘What’s the purpose of reading fiction?’ And that’s exactly the place we’re wrong. All reading is good reading, whether it the recipe or a comic. The message we should convey as parents is that we should be willing to read. Also we can manipulate and push to help them read better and more engaging content.
Today, through the cloud library platform of Toolo, children can access an extensive and diverse selection of books in regional languages, as well as English and peer-recommendations and storytelling sessions with authors, author interactions and many more. Customers can also purchase books online and receive them to their homes and then taken away when they are finished reading.
Sheetal and her team have an a vision of building 1,000 Toolo libraries over the next few years.
One thousand is not a huge amount as far as India concerns. However by the end of the year, we’re planning at raising capital to help move this project forward. The immediate objective is to construct 50-60 libraries before the end of the season, the director says.
Toolo is also seeking to work with preschools.
Where preschoolers are concerned, there isn’t a library and there aren’t many books available in many preschools. At that time that we must to inspire a love for reading and teach children that reading is enjoyable. We are trying to provide preschoolers with kits for books that are ready-to-use. We’re also looking into ways our ambassadors could cater to their local preschools by assisting with this cloud library. ends Sheetal.