I got an exposure to rural BPO when the folks at Piramal Foundation invited me over to their 10 seat all-women BPO center in rural Rajasthan called ‘Source for Change’ in Bagar a small dusty rural-town in district Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan. This is also the ancestral village of the Piramal family, one of India’s leading business conglomerates with varied interests in pharmaceuticals, healthcare, textiles, retail and real-estate sectors.
I had driven past Bagar a few times earlier while heading for a vacation in Rajasthan and would have never imagined that a BPO center can be operating in place like this. The rural women working there had a surprisingly high level of awareness and professionalism. They were working on a project that needed them to enter data from survey forms of and Impact Analysis survey done on primary schools. They understood the objective of the survey and displayed clarity on how their data-entry task fitted in the bigger picture of the impact assessment… and these were women who needed to cover their faces with ‘purdah’ when they stepped out of the office.
I realized that we grossly underestimate the ability of people in rural areas. Harnessing the untapped potential of educated youth in rural areas could be a game changer for the Indian BPO business. After successfully scaling up ‘Source for Change’ albeit as a ‘non-profit’ CSR objective (Corporate Social Responsibility) of the Piramal Foundation, I was convinced that the rural BPO concept had a high business potential and founded eGramServe BPO Services as a ‘for-profit’ social enterprise.