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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Aavishkaar,social venture fund Invests in Rural BPO ( Business To Rural )

Struggling with challenges created by urban migration pressures on one hand, and insufficient non-agricultural livelihood options in rural areas on the other, an innovative approach to take a shot at both resulted in the formation of B2R Technologies, a rural BPO organization. Having corporate experience of more than 27 years, including the start-up and operation of a third-party BPO at Gurgaon to service international clients, Venki Iyer, co-founder, B2R, says "Considering cost pressures due to rising real estate prices & staff salaries as well as high attrition, there was a clear need to address many of the challenges faced in the urban context in an innovative manner". Recognizing that the beautiful hills of Uttarakhand had a lot more to offer than trekking & tourist holiday locales, Dhiraj Dolwani, co-founder & CEO of B2R says "Literacy in the state at about 72% is significantly better than the national average; however what has been an eye-opener and the cornerstone for success is the sincerity & tremendous zeal to learn that the youth have demonstrated". Partnering with CHIRAG, a well-established NGO in the region, has helped B2R establish quickly & connect into the villages for the recruitment of staff.

B2R's business model envisages setting up clusters of rural BPO delivery centers in a hub-and-spoke arrangement to provide business support services to domestic and international clients. The plan to scale-up to create up to one hundred such 50 seats delivery centers in seven years is now set to take off, with investment from Aavishkaar Micro Capital Venture Fund, a social venture fund, which focuses on social micro enterprises. Says Vineet Rai, CEO, Aavishkaar "Such projects offer an opportunity to bring together the economic and social development objectives and create a financially inclusive enterprise". The investment firm closed several such deals in 2009 and continues to make investments in socially relevant projects

The first delivery center is currently operational at Orakhan in village Simayal, near Mukteswar, Uttarakhand, and has 34 team members, all belonging to villages in the vicinity. A well-designed training curriculum led to reaching the desired accuracy levels of 99.95% very quickly - moving up the value chain in services is planned with ongoing training being a key enabler.

In a progressive attempt to implement its core principle of financial inclusion and facilitate the integrated development of the rural ecosystem, B2R (representing the aim of bringing Business To Rural areas) intends to invest one-third of its post-tax profits back into the community, through profit-sharing with employees, as well as village & community level projects. The lines of social motivation and for-profit enterprise seem to be converging to create a new breed of socially relevant organizations - and facilitating this are social investors willing to make risk capital available for the business of social good.


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

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