Tag Archives: Rural India

Insipring article on rural bpo in india

29 Jan

yesterday’s editorial by Rasheeda Bhagat – Where money has new meaning , which appeared in Business Line has become one of most inspiring and important article in my life.  it practically changed the way i treat a BPO/Call Centre employee and more importantly it once again showcased  the power rural Indians have in shapping our country.

i request anyone …nay .. everyone who reads this post to follow the article link and the read it. that is not enough.  Pass on the post/link to your friends , relatives, managers where you are working and let them know the potential of rural India.

why is the post important to me ? you need to know my insignificant story first .

the story :

on the first week of Nov 2008 i quit my job at the advertising firm where i was working. i quit suddenly .. just like that ! one reason was due to a pressing  family emergency which i cant write it here for obvious reasons. the other was because i started hating the job. it wast not like that before, though!

i used to love the advertising field. i used to dream of working for an agency  for couple of years, finish a MBA degree . then join main stream marketing , enter Brand Management field with specialization in digital media communications. I was clear in what I wanted to do . But working in the company for close to 5 months I just got too stressed out. I dint have time for my family and friends . Even more alarming was that I dint have time for myself. working Monday to Saturday from 9 am to 9pm drained me out so completely that I was too exhausted on Sundays to do anything. I couldn’t read a book , felt lazy to go out and meet friends, dint have time to visit British Council library ( i used to go there every Saturday for 3 hours from 4 pm to 7 pm ).  i was tired to get up early morning to go out for a run/gym/yoga/meditation etc .. i just couldn’t .. so i quit! Call me a wuss but hey .. I have no regrets .

Today I believe that core marketing and PR has better chances revolutionizing brand management theories than advertising can ever do. I am looking to enter the Afro mentioned fields.

3 months hence I  still havent joined a new company yet. worse ! i dont have money to pay my credit card bills. now comes the call from bank bpo employees cordially asking me to pay my minimum due amount. i tell them i cant pay because i am out of work . i will pay it later with the interest .  but when they keep calling , i get irritated and blast them. i forget for a minute that they are just doing their jobs. they are collection agents and they have to collect and close accounts every month  which are due on late payments.

I forget that they could have been Shahida!

after reading the article yesterday, i realized i could have blasted Shahida or some one like her and now i am reeked with shame.

so .. who is Shahida ?

you will meet her when you read the artcile . here is a snap preview of her …

name : Shahida – age: 25 – location : Tirupathi (A.P) – education : B.A Economics , Telugu medium – occupation: bpo employee at Atlas Documentry Facilities Company Pvt Ltd started by HDFC bank – job profile : backroom processing of banks data’s in fuctions as opening of new accounts,credit card related information,foreclosure of loans ,etc.

pay : rs3,700/month – expense : Rs2000 sent to parents,rs 1,500 for hostel and lodging – for personal expense : rs 200 ( balance amount) – other income : after work shift , she makes 3oo rupees from weaving embroidery sarees.

Total amount on hand : Rs 500/per month.

Money sent to parents which helps in paying for her 2 brother’s college fees – rs 2000

her father earns – rs 60-70 a day .

Compare that with mine :

2-4 movies per month at Satyam Cinemas ( when i go with a friend or with my girl friend ) : rs 500 ( tickets alone)

a meal for 2 at Subway – veg patty sandwhich – rs 201- includes coke under “special offer” scheme . I go there almost every week.

other expenses – very very studpid unnecessary expenses – rs “more than 3000” .

Does that mean, I could /can help educating 2 young guys every month by paying their college fees ? does that mean i can uplift India in my own way in providing education to these students ? Does that mean, if I sacrifice a bit ( do i really have to watch 2 movies every month and eat at subway every week ?) i can make differece to a fellow citizen ?

Do the math and find out how much you are wasting …

And if HDFC or other bank’s marketing people are reading this post. I would like to ask  – why dont you take initatives and reach out to people like me directly to fund education of students – like that of Shahida’s brothers?  I am ready ..

As a customer/client I am ready . The question is whether the people from the bank/govt of india core management team ready to bring out innovative policies to tap working class people like me from urban india to educate the rural india.  I will never call them poor. They are more hardworking, more resourceful, more dedicated than most of us ( including me). They may not have money but I dont give a rat’s ass to money if you have diginity .

This is my clarion call to all the banks in India.

Here is an important line from the article which shook me to the core and changed me as a person.

” They have to fight for what most of us take for granted- a college education,a secure home loan, enough food on the table and a job in an air conditioned office…”

My Salutations :

to Shahida and her coleagues in that bank : My humble pranam to you . you inspire me in a way like no other other “self help” books or the monks who sold their ferraris. from you i realize the value of hard work , money and pride. if you ever read this post i want you to know that you have my sincere admiration and respect . you rock !

to HDFC bank : I am not your customer . I dont know how good is your service to your customer. I won’t comment on that. But this initiative you have undertaken – Kudos to you!  Great work and i wish you guys will go ahead and replicate this kind of work all over India.

I second what Mr.M Durgaprasd ,Assistant Vice-President and Head Operations (BPO), “……. I find them sincere,disciplined and hardworking”.

to govt of india :  most of the policies introduced is rampant with corruption. consider : the amount of money politicians would have pocketed set aside for NREGA.  But the EGMM ( Employee Generation Marketing Mission) initiative is something you will have my complete support.

most corporate look at rural india from a CSR perspective. it is nothing but one form or sympathy and empathy. people from rural india are not looked as someone who can bring in money for the growth of the company and earn a livelihood for themselves . Instead , companies open such initiatives and give it a CSR tag. I think that is stupid. given their dedication to work,opportunity for self empowerment and at the same time contribute to the growth of the company in terms of good service and revenue generation , corporate india should consider them at par with other employees from urban india.

that is why i always consider c.k prahald’s book – fortune at the bottom of the pyramid very important in its concept and execution to change  India.

I have earlier 2 articles on this :

About time we looked at rural india

Is india still in recession

Spread the good word !

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About time we looked at Rural India !

16 Dec

My uncle wanted to know if I was preparing for IIM exams ( notice that he dint ask me Cat or Xat but IIM) i dint have much to answer him except that , ” No, I am not interested in IIM’s or XLRI’s or any of the so called top colleges” … he gave me the incredulous look that you would have have when you hear that “Kumari” Mayawati has become the PM of our country.

And so when he asked me what my future plans were . I had to give him the truth . I told him though i am in the advertising field I would like to explore opportunities in Rural or Health care/fitness marketing . I also told him that 5-10 years down the lane I would like to specialize in marketing/branding for rural areas and start a non-profit company.I am very passionate about using the tools and knowledge of marketing and integrated PR in Health care/fitness Industry or Rural Marketing.

He gave me that OK-i-don’t-get-your-stupid idea look with a you-aint-gonna-go anywhere – with-that kinda nod and changed the topic. But not before it got me thinking about , ” why not rural India ?” .

Prahalad_0131877291_PB.qxd

Have you guys read the phenomenal book ” Fortune At the Bottom Of The Pyramid” by C.K Prahalad? If you haven’t yet .. then run to your library or better still buy yourself a copy of the book and  read it . Now is the right time to read the book. As global recession is going south bound and no one has a clue to what to do next .. here is the book which will give answers to the big MNC ‘s and entrepreneurs alike .

(This is not a book review. As a personal principle , I don’t write reviews. I recommend books to my friends but i never give them  a review of the books I read. Who am i to take a judgment call on another man’s work ?)

Getting back to the crux of the post and in conjunction to blog title , I think multinational companies in India and abroad should start looking at reaching out to rural cities/villages to stay afloat during recession. Or prevent another recession in the future.

Most SME’s and MNC’s ignore rural areas because they believe that people in such cities/villages have no buying power. They are considered poor by most global standards. But, that is exactly why we need to see them in a completely different perspective . C.K Prahald challenges the myth that considers poor people as poor when they are not . He quotes the work of Hernando De Soto’s book “The Mystery of Capital” which postulates that poor countries ; people from rural areas are not really that poor. They are often asset-rich and capital -poor. To quote from the book , ” Assets cannot become capital unless the country guarantees a rule of law- primarily the law of contracts – whereby the ownership of assets is clear….. For example, he ( Mr Hernando Soto) estimated that the trapped resources of Mexico are about $ 300 Billion” .

That is a phenomenal number! Imagine what potential can India have when 80% of India’s population in the Bottom of The Pyramid (BOP) slab will be able to quantify ? This 80% currently accounts for 67% of the current consumption. Aint that an awesome information to behold ? India is quite simply and easily one of THE  richest nations in the world and all that potential waiting to be  tapped and unearthed. We should be doing that now!

The Big Idea ? If MNC’s and SME’s ( Small and Medium Enterprises ) can come up with innovative, cost effective and customized products for the rural markets we would unleash a massive wave of marketing and innovation revolution in India. This would also force goverment to work with private companies to set up better infrastructure, proper health care and free education.

Here are my thoughts on a macro scale where we can make some mega changes in this sector :

Not just 4 metros : Metros are so termed because of the huge population and infrastructure growth. I suggest the state govt with the center remove the metros tag altogether. metros means metropolis. Taking TN as an example, let there me more metros in TN alone. Identify and improve those cities . say – Trichi, Coimbatore, Erode..etc .This idea can also be reflected in other states ..

Infrastructure : Have you been noticing that the number of cars in Chennai increasing  and really pissing you off ? Ever wondered why ?The answer is obvious, the middle class are getting prosperous and buying new/more cars. But why only chennai ( and other metro cities across the country) city alone? Because every year, of the lacs of engineers,diploma holders who pass out of universities come to cities like Chennai to work. Because MNC ‘s are well entrenched in metros. Simply put – they seek out better job opportunities and enhanced standard of living. Why not give these Young Turks opportunities in their home cities? Why not prevent them from migrating to the cities? Instead provide opportunities in their native places.

Young Turks : Have better local knowledge: These Young Turks ( as i would like to call them) can be better exploited or rather groomed by companies as they will have better working knowledge of the people in their area. Give them proper training and they will reward you with a better perspective on marketing, product development and sales, much better than IIM grads. And hey, you don’t have to pay top dollars for these turks . Pay them not with just good salaries but show them how they are contributing to their society through the company and you would even reduce attrition rates. Make them not – sales executive and stop their career growth. Give them titles like – Sales Manager or Marketing Manager of the area.. This will usher in sense of ownership as well. Unlike high funda grads these guys are more loyal to companies than most.

Streamline these grads – take care of them : Assign a experienced mentor and segregate these grads to become experts in Rural Management,Micro Finance, market research,rural marketing etc , step up teams and send them out to the field to visit the villages . Make the job profile exiting.A team can consist of 1 rural management expert– he will evaluate and micro manage, 2 market research experts– 2nos because this involves number crunching , 1 micro finance guy – who will identify how and how much loan to provide and 1 marketing expert – he will conduct survey and collect customer info and come up with ideas on marketing. The marketing guy with the rural managementguy can work on business development and sales. 5 in a team for one area/district, as necessary. 20-50 teams can be supervised by a General Manager . 10 General Managers can come under one Head . 5 Heads will report to Vice -President Operations of that Area – say South Market .. etc ..

And when they are out in the field- in villages and rural cities  for days – give them the sense of security that their families are taken care of when they are not around. You will  see ever lasting commitments to the parent company from these guys. Indians from rural cities give more value to relationships and sentiments than money and luxury.

Teach them to be innovative : Pick the latest copy of Businesswold. You will read the cover article about “The Real Nation builders”. They are not from IIM’s or IIT’s . what i am trying to convey here is if you can teach grads from rural areas to be innovative they will bring in results. They will give you great ideas . The MNC only has to identify the right idea , ideate on it , strategize and implement them. There you may need the IIM and XLRI graduated guys with Mckensiey background to do the work.

Use technology : The best software is not good enough if it cant deliver. India is already a tech/software giant. Software companies can then join hands  with services companies and launch customized products in rural areas and benefit from that .

You don’t have to depend too much on global money when it is right there to be taken from our backyard.

Rural India is a gold mine waiting to be tapped.  MNC companies wont just rake in profits but also built a nation in its truest form. All they need to do is understand customer demographic profile clearly and launch products according to them.

Welcome your thoughts and ideas on this .. If you like what you read here.. spread the word around and would love discuss more of the same- here in my blog.

Further reading from Economic Times :

Rural spend,housing to rescue growth