This guest column is by Varun Chandran, Founder & CEO, Corporate360
India needs smart villages, not just smart cities
Recent population statistics indicate that the vast majority of Indians live in villages, with 80% of India’s 1.25 billion population lives in villages and small towns. India has more than 50% of its population below the age of 25 and more than 65% below the age of 35. According to World Economic Forum, India ranked 120th in personal usage of technology which calls for the need to improve digital literacy and provide digital jobs to youths.
Unemployment among youth, women and physically challenged has a detrimental effect on young people that can continue into later life by impacting on future earnings, physical and mental health and social isolation. This can also lead to greater pressure on public services.
Most of the impact investment projects are focused on bottom of the pyramid sectors such as housing, water, healthcare, education, micro financing, agriculture & energy. We believe job creation in villages also holds a significant opportunity to bring positive social impact.
Employment creation is the need of the hour
There is a need to provide meaningful experiential and practice based job opportunities for young people from less privileged communities. Digital Job creation also holds a significant opportunity to bring positive social impact. There is an opportunity to leverage digital economy on a permanent basis to create employment, improve the confidence & digital skills of young people from low-income areas.
How a Startup is making difference to improve digital literacy and create jobs in rural India
At Corporate360, we invented a marketing data software called SmartWorker, which helps businesses to win new deals, identify sales leads, grow pipeline, and maintain CRM data accuracy. Businesses subscribe to our data platform for a fee. Our data-as-a-service cloud is automating marketing campaign data activities using Big Data, Machine Learning & Crowd computing.
Through SmartWorker, we promote Impact Sourcing that benefits disadvantaged people in areas of extreme under-employment. We hire unemployed youth, women & physically challenged from low income and less privileged communities. We train them to perform simple digital data tasks such as audience research, email campaigns, opt-in permission checks, contacts discovery, data correction, buyers behaviour analysis, data sorting and formatting, and connect them to life changing work income via our online software.
The social value of this program can result in employment creation for hundreds of women, youth and physically challenged in low-income areas, impacting thousands of families who earn less than $5 a day.
The ultimate goal of this social enterprise project is to Alleviate unemployment among youth, women and physically challenged from low-income areas, increase income generation for less advantaged families, digital skill development and social innovation among marginalized communities.
We bootstrapped & launched our software product in 2014. We have created over 100 full-time jobs in villages and distributed over $400k in wages. Besides this, we have engaged close to 2000 people through part-time and remote employment. Many of the workers have been able to make career progression to larger companies. Through SmartWorker employment, many workers have been able to support their families & marriages. The learning curve for employees includes exposure to international work culture, computer and Internet learning. We have done this by focusing on the Girl effect. We have specifically sought to empower young women with no formal work experience. Through sustainable community development projects, we are providing housing, toilets, food subsidy, ambulance and school bus service for poor villagers.
We opened our first office in an Indian village and employed 35 full time workers. By opening the offices in tier-2 town, the company is promoting Impact sourcing that benefits in meaningful job creation and digital skill development among educated youth from rural areas. This is going to change a lot of things. Imagine a situation where graduates from rural areas no more need to move to the big cities for work or startup incubation. Means no more talent drainage of the educated youth from rural areas. It will lead to centralized and balanced developments over small towns and villages.
More than 80% of youths in India, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Kenya lack access to formal employment opportunities, while poverty and unemployment remain among the most pressing problems of our time. At C360, we believe that combining entrepreneurship, technology and digital economy can make an enormous difference in the lives of millions of Asians and their communities, and we are excited to help make this real.