RuralShores is a small but high profile social BPO enterprise founded in Bangalore in 2008 by Murali Vullaganti and others. The caption on its 3-year anniversary invitation card captured its achievements at the time vividly: “Illuminating a 1000 rural families”.
70% of India’s 1bio population lives in villages (620,000), generating only 30% of the economic output. 40% of the population is illiterate. Jobs are scarce and a deficiency of basic facilities has created a society insulated from the information highway, life services and the knowledge economy. Lack of employment lures youth from villages to cities, resulting in social strains in cities, fragmenting families and destroying the character of rural India. Further, city life being expensive, the potential to save money and provide support back home is not possible. But villages still continue to suffer an exodus of youth to cities in search of jobs and to “live their dream”. However, this is slowly changing.
Murali’s mantra and RuralShores’ rallying cry is “let’s bring jobs to villages and not villages to jobs”! Typically, BPOs were established in urban areas and while a few sporadically sprung up in rural areas (eg. Drishti (connecting India village by village)), it was RuralShores that got the most publicity. India’s BPO market is worth $20bio. Rural BPOs have the potential of creating >2 million jobs in the villages. The main motivations that underpin BPOs generally are costs advantage, economies of scale, business risk mitigation, superior competency and utilization improvement. Rural BPOs are motivated by additional costs advantage, growth in domestic outsourcing and business enablement, local language needs, Government incentives and CSR initiatives.
At the village level, rural investing brings self-confidence, empowerment, employment, education, infrastructure, enhanced lifestyles and income and at the country level, it contributes to rural development, improving literacy and expanding the talent pool, while curbing urban migration. RuralShores is a blessing to villages because with stable income, individuals can support families and higher education needs and women are not “paraya dhan”. Educational and employment aspirations have been transformed across generations.
Besides an investment in RuralShores India, the biggest value to IVG of collaborating with RuralShores is the ability to export its innovative model to other parts of the world, especially Africa under IVG’s South-South and reverse innovation strategies. In partnership with RuralShores, IVG envisions to expansion the business into Nepal, Africa, the UK and the US.