One of the key objectives of setting up rural BPOs by RuralShores Business Services (RS) is to assimilate rural India into the knowledge economy by introducing rural youth to BPO opportunities and providing employment to them in their own villages.
Deficiency of basic facilities and amenities in villages has created a society insulated from computer education, government services and welfare programs especially in health, education and agriculture. Economic development in India cannot be sustained without the provision of all these services at an affordable cost in rural areas.
Lack of employment opportunity is luring people from villages to cities. It is felt that corporate world can benefit immensely by taking jobs to people in rural backyard rather than bringing people to jobs in cities. RS collaborates with local entrepreneurs in setting up of rural BPOs to empower rural youth, rely on indigenous resources, and build upon their existing cultural and economic context, thus advancing holistic rural development.
The fundamental approach by which RuralShores demonstrates social responsibility is through its employment of rural youth. Its impact shows in:
The strategy with which RuralShores enhances its social mission is through:
RuralShores proudly calls itself a "For-profit social enterprise". It was setup in 2008 by professionals with proven success in industry and who are motivated to contribute substantially in social upliftment, albeit, being a commercial venture, it is expected to show revenues and profit annually, and provide decent returns to its investors.
There are six key stakeholders to the Social Performance plan, each of whom are inter-connected and driven by a social motive to bring in the social and economic change in the lives of the less privileged.
The primary driving force for each of the stakeholders in creating the social change is discussed below:
The driving force for clients is the opportunity to engage in active Corporate Social Responsibility(CSR) and also the engagement serves as a means to increase the accessibility of their products and services to a wider market at the bottom of the pyramid. As opposed to the traditional CSR activities undertaken by various organizations, wherein the focus is more philanthropic than strategic in nature, RuralShores provides an opportunity for active CSR wherein the organizations not only contribute directly towards social upliftment by creating job opportunities in villages but also have strategic cost advantage and a better market visibility.
The driving force for investors is the opportunity to fund in a "For-Profit social enterprise" which aims at Impact maximization through profit. The social objectives of the organization are aimed at being met through commercial success bringing in sustainability and scalability to the entire concept.
They form an important element to the entire model and contribute as social entrepreneurs - 'centrepreneurs'. The opportunity to gain goodwill by being an entrepreneur in their own village acts as the driving force for them to participate in the venture. Moreover, they get the entire support system to establish and run the venture successfully.
They get an opportunity to work as socially responsible professionals contributing to the mission of creating job opportunities for the rural youth of the country.
The primary driver for the directors and promoters of the company is to create a platform for wholesome socio economic development by ensuring that Social Performance becomes an integral part of RuralShores operations.
They are the major beneficiaries of the entire model. By working with RuralShores they get a sustainable income to support themselves and their families. Also by some of the RS customers expanding their services to these regions, it provides a tremendous opportunity for them to build assets like purchase the tractors through the loans from MFIs etc.
Since RuralShores centres are established in backward and tribal areas, the communities staying in such areas will benefit immensely through the economic development brought in by RuralShores centres. This acts as the social driver for the community to actively support the venture in their respective villages.
Most employees live within 10 km of the RuralShores centre. They have to be 12th standard pass to be employable. Many of them come from farming background. The average age of a RuralShores employee is 22 years. Almost half our employees are women. Educational and employment aspirations have been transformed across generations within the families, especially for women. Most have never imagined it would be possible for them to work at a BPO in a village. They have a strong desire to learn English as it allows for greater learning and interaction with the outside world. Most of the employees dream and hope that their children would go on to "even better" jobs than their RuralShores jobs, and achieve higher education levels. Most would not stop their daughters to work outside the home. This is in itself, an indicator of attitude change across generations.
Women are increasingly being empowered by seeking and finding employment in various back office jobs such as data entry and research. Many women are not permitted to venture outside their rural homes but are gradually witnessing a silent revolution through our BPO centres that allow women to find jobs within the boundaries of the village and in turn become financially independent. Even if women are educated, rural boys have more opportunities to go out to cities for better paying jobs, while girls usually stay back in the village because of societal/family reasons.
Women constitute approx 50% of RuralShores employees at our BPO centres. Most of them come from nearby villages, within 10 km of the centre location. By holding a white collar job, their standing in the village has gone up. They are able to have a say in the family decisions and contribute to their household income.
Over the last four years, we have stimulated economic activity by transforming more than 2500 rustic rural youth into knowledge professionals and brought immense self-confidence to and empowerment to the lives of female employees. We see the number of women employees only growing in the next few years.