But, with remote learning becoming the new normal during the pandemic, Kadhe’s rigid views changed dramatically.
“After seeing how tech is shaping a significantly different kind of learning environment than the one I or my wife experienced, I understood that technology is an integral part of online education. And with so many children like my son learning from home during the pandemic, it is more important than ever for him to be fluent in technology.”
Kadhe’s tech savvy son, Ram, uses his smartphone to not only communicate, play games or access resources, but also to edit and submit assignments. The teenager knows how to use Excel sheets, Google Docs and how to edit and submit assignments with videos and pictures.
“Some adults can’t do a lot of what he does,” said the beaming father.
Ram has not only learned how to find information he needs online, but has also helped his harried father use technology to resolve problems in their business.
For Kadhe, one of the biggest time suckers was accounting, and he dreaded dealing with that aspect of business ownership.
“Despite having ample experience of running the store, writing down expenses and owing amounts in a register, left me feeling frazzled. Most days, I’d get up early, work late, and still not get it all done.” he said.
Kadhe opens his store at 7 am and closes at 10 pm, with a three-hour lunch break between 2 pm and 5 pm. The day hours are normally less busy, and that is when he and his wife, Bhagyashree, re-stock and organize the shop. In the evenings, the shop gets crowded again with customers returning to the store on their way home from work.
Going to kirana stores, which are a vital part of local communities, is more than a mere transaction for customers. It’s a moment to socialise by chatting about life matters, family and the weather with the shopkeepers, who establish personal relationships with them.
Also, most kirana stores allow cash-strapped consumers to buy in smaller quantities than is normally possible, and they often offer credit to regular customers without any type of formal accounting and verifiable records.
Like others, Kadhe’s store has a huge credit backlog as well.
“Most of my customers do not always have the cash to buy things.”
On any given day, 250-300 customers owe him money, which can be anything from Re 1 to Rs 2,000, and the transactions have to be recorded in the register as repayment of credit can even take up to a year, in some cases.
“Many of my relatives and friends are also my customers. So, I usually don’t remind them to make the payment as that might offend them.”
So, after downing shutters, Kadhe would spend another hour or two tallying the day’s sales scribbled in his thick register, and recording the pending payments from customers.
Watching Kadhe struggle with managing finances and recovering debts, Ram knew his father needed help in accounting “as it was one of the more frustrating, confusing, uncertain areas of business”. So he searched for a mobile app that allows small business owners like Khade to record their daily financial transactions along with accepting payment online, and keep their daily business accounting data up to date.
“I knew he didn’t have the time or the bandwidth to pick the right app to help him with
said the cheeky teen.
On a serious note, he said that he downloaded the Khatabook app for Kadhe because
“it’s reliable, easy to use, intuitive and offers long-term benefits for people without expertise of technology or accounts”.
“If the app was not user-friendly, my father would be constantly preoccupied with trying to figure out how it works to get his accounting in order.”
Kadhe admits that he and his wife froze when confronted with a technology glitch, but Ram’s knack for troubleshooting has saved them many a time.
While Kadhe studied till high school, his wife is a graduate.
Turns out, Ram, a class eight student, who, in addition to doing mundane chores at home and at the store, has another useful purpose: to teach his parents to use technology that helps them run the store efficiently.
“Swiping, clicking, and tapping on screens comes second nature to him. He knows all about the next hot app out there while we have no idea about how to even download one! So who can teach us tech, better than him?”
Kadhe said he learnt how to use the Khatabook app in no time, and appreciates the simple design and layout of the interface.
The results of Kadhe’s digital transformation have been phenomenal—he has been able to save time, reduce inefficiencies, and cut his pending receivables by half.
“Many times, I’d forget who owed us what, and we would never get our payment,” said Kadhe, adding, “With Khatabook, I’m collecting payments now a lot more quickly than I was before.”
Also, timely reminders are sent to him as well as his customers on pending payments via SMS.
“The Khatabook app frees up my time, giving me back around eight hours every week that I can spend focusing on aspects of the store that generate revenue, and make key decisions for my business to succeed,” explained Kadhe, whose strong and regular customer base has been growing.
Hearing Kadhe speak, one might think that he comes from an entrepreneurial background. But, entrepreneurship isn’t where Kadhe started—he got his start in agriculture and earned a living by doing intense manual labor as a farmworker.
Since he always dreamt of owning a shop, he took a loan of Rs 5,000 from the rich landlord in whose farm he worked, and opened his own kirana store 22 years ago. Over time, Kadhe’s main goal has been to be more efficient with running his business. Khatabook’s simplified and automated system helps him realize his goal—especially when he thinks back to the days where he used his thick register to track his finances.
“I feel like I’ve grown personally by running this store,” Kadhe said. “And that’s been really rewarding. Thank you Ram for introducing me to Khatabook. It’s been a game-changer for Ram Kirana.”