India In-Depth

Impact Sourcing and the Power of Rural Youth

The districts of India, which are 70% rural, are characterized by agricultural revenue that allows basic survival of villagers, but allows no generation of disposable income, thereby leaving people vulnerable to destitution in the face of a natural or man-made disaster. Yet, rural people overwhelmingly prefer to not migrate to cities if a reasonable income is available within their community. This fact is dramatically demonstrated by Manabindu Saha, an alumnus of Anudip Foundation, who in October 2010 secured a job paying a monthly salary of Rs. 22,000 (US$400) in a Kolkata-based bank, but turned it down for a job paying Rs. 6,000 ($110) per month which allows him to work within an hour’s commute from his village and to live with his family.

Insurance and healthcare companies like NetAmbit, Aegis, InfoCare; consumer companies like Cadbury and ITC; retailers like Big Bazar, Airtel, Spencer’s, Pantaloons, and Reliance, have indicated they would open offices or outlets in districts if there were sufficient people earning Rs. 5,000 ($90) or more per month. The creation of livelihood opportunities at this salary level has been shown to generate interest for businesses to expand into predominately rural districts, thereby creating more jobs and accelerating growth of local economies.

In 2005, an ethnographic study funded by Reuters Foundation and Actionaid, an international NGO, confirmed that economies of desperately poor and marginalized rural people could be dramatically improved by an increase in available livelihoods. Subsequently, a group of dedicated social entrepreneurs set up Anudip Foundation, a professionally managed nonprofit organization, to address critical livelihood needs of rural people through Information Technology.

From 2006 onward, Anudip, in partnership with American India Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, NASSCOM and the Monitor Group, has pioneered the concept of Impact Sourcing, an integrated model of (a) vocational and job readiness skills building, (b) professional placement, (c) small entrepreneur development, and (d) IT project services, for educated and impoverished rural men and women of eastern India.

More than 12,000 Anudip students today work in front and back offices of hotels, restaurants, department stores, outsourcing and insurance companies, hospitals, accountancy firms, NGOs, on-site placement agencies, and many more. Over 60 rural entrepreneur groups run their own businesses in areas such as graphic design, desktop publishing, cybercafés, computer coaching centers, online reservation services, and equipment maintenance, in remote locations like the Sunderbans in south Bengal and Alipurduar near the Bhutan border. iMerit project centers staffed by Anudip students and located in a poor, minority community called Metiabruz (entirely staffed by women) and in rural Diamond Harbor execute international projects in practice areas such as global help desk, e-Publishing, crowdsourcing, legal and accounting services.

Anudip’s drive to find local employment for its alumni, to fund and mentor entrepreneurs, and to establish IT service centers in small towns through its sister company, iMerit, is the result of the company’s mission to develop meaningful disposable incomes for rural youth. Numerous case studies covering Anudip students, their families and their communities attest to the power of Impact Sourcing.

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