Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Rural BPOs –Social Enterprise or a Profit Making Venture?

Rural BPOs have brought winds of change in Southern India. By making a significant commercial and social impact these enterprises are giving thousands of men and women a reason to live with dignity. These BPOs have employed young people who would have otherwise been forced to migrate to bigger cities to make a living. It is notable that the present economic scenario has led urban BPOs to put their hiring plans on hold but rural BPOs don’t seem to be getting affected. These centers are springing up at various locations, generating hundreds of employment opportunities. From services like data entry and transcription to secondary research and translation, the idea of a rural BPO has resulted in better living conditions for people who were otherwise surviving on less than 2 dollars a day.

More than 50%employees in such centers are women and working in rural BPOs has helped them pay off debts, save money for marriage and even start a small business for their family. Rural BPOs usually seek college drop outs or candidates who have studied till class XII. They are provided training in English speaking, processes and other soft skills in order to make them prepared for taking up assignments.

The rural BPO model has not managed to come this far only on the basis of social merits. Besides the fulfillment of social causes, these centers are also commercial in nature. Experts believe that in order to make these centers successful, a hard core business proposition is required. Since these centers run on the basis of a revenue generating model, will it be right to consider them a social enterprise?

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1 comment:

  1. This is a fair question, but perhaps one better left to academics. Whether a rural BPO is a "social enterprise" a "socially responsible business" or just a "company" the impact is pretty universal. Jobs using IT and English pay relatively well and enable the employee to reap the benefits attached to a greater social standing. This is especially true for women who oftentimes gain a greater voice in family decisions after working at a rural BPO. Source for Change (which is where the above photograph comes from) is one such example of an all-women, rural BPO. Please read more about SFC here: