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Cases Publications

Hindustan Lever: Leaping a Millennium

Case Abstract


Sharat Dhall was on his way to his senior colleagues to deliver a progress report on his most recent activities and the project in general. As a sequel to Project Millennium, 1 HHL had brought together a team to help implement a daring new growth blueprint. It consisted of seven new business initiatives that would drive the company’s ambition to continue to double its turnover every four years. Sharat was a project manager for “project shakti” – Hindustan Lever’s (HLL) rural initiative that had been running for four years. It was once again time for a reality check on whether the project was delivering.


Project Shakti, one of the seven new initiatives, charted out an ambitious plan to stimulate new demand at the lower end of the market by creating a self-sustaining cycle of “business growth through people growth.” Back then, the team planned to develop a win-win partnership with rural self-help groups (SHGs) by helping them to access micro-credit, buy HLL products and sell them in their villages. If successful, the initiative would create hundreds of jobs, train new entrepreneurs and extend HLL’s distribution reach to the most inaccessible rural villages of India. While HLL at that moment had more than 13000 SEs, covering over 50,000 villages, reaching 15 million people, the project dynamism would rather accelerate than slow down. HLL had a daring vision for 2010. By then, HLL envisaged 100,000 SEs covering 500,000 villages and benefiting 500 million people. Sharat was confident that the future was bright.


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