BPOs hiring employees from rural areas

By : |July 31, 2012 0

MUMBAI, INDIA: The Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry in India is largely based in urban areas like metros and big cities, which has high connectivity, infrastructure and high supply of talent pools.

[image_library_tag 496/18496, align=”left” title=”BPO” border=”1″ hspace=”10″ alt=”BPO” vspace=”10″ width=”150″ height=”192″ ,default]Though the industry earns high income from clients abroad, it suffers due to rising real estate cost,  infrastructure, high attrition rate and talent migration.

Given this scenario, companies like Rural Shores and DesiCrew Solutions have taken key steps that will have long term bearing on India’s BPO industry in coming years as well as add value to society by creating opportunities for the rural population. 

For instance, Rural Shores Business Services — a Bangalore based BPO firm largely operates through rural towns and small cities across India. According to Murali Vullaganti, Rural Shores’ co-founder and CEO, though rural BPOs are in a nascent stage in India, it has a huge scope in today’s times.   

“We have proven that rural BPOs can successfully deliver Image Based Data Entry, Rule based Transaction Processing, Local Language Voice Support and Knowledge Process Outsourcing,” Vullaganti says.  

“Rural BPOs provide excellent job opportunity to the local people, who mostly depend on agriculture as an income source and taking jobs to these people instead of bringing people to the jobs has a huge social impact on them,” he adds.

Rural Shores has some 11 centers spread across states such as Jobner in Rajasthan, Sonari in Uttar Pradesh, Sagrur in Punjab, Bhiloda in Gujarat, Thirthahalli in Karnataka and others in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. It aims to set up one center in each of the 500 rural districts of India and wants to provide jobs to over 100,000 rural youths by 2020.

On social impact, Vullaganti points that the rural BPO jobs helps locals to stay close to their families and also engage in traditional occupation, and migration to cities is controlled.

Besides the social benefits for the locals, these rural BPOs prove to be highly cost-effective compared to urban BPOs. “Most rural BPOs would be able to provide 30-40 per cent cost savings to clients against city based BPOs,” said Vullaganti.

”Rural BPOs devise ways to overcome challenges of limited power supply and internet connectivity by looking at diesel back-up power and alternate energy sources (solar/husk). Two services providers are typically engaged to provide internet connectivity,” Vullaganti explains.

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Though, these BPOs are cost-effective to clients, they are at par in terms of delivery quality services without making any compromises. ”Rural BPOs offer the same benefits to clients as urban BPOs in terms of work deliverables. They offer the same quality standards, confidentiality, data security, continuity and turn around time. Local BPOs offer an added advantage of supporting local languages in tele-calling processes,” Vullaganti points out.

In spite of commercial benefits for clients, rural BPOs still face unique challenges. ”For a rural BPO the most challenging area with new clients is creating a rural BPO’s positive image in their minds and convincing them that this is a viable proposition. Often when a client takes the time to visit out rural office, all questions are put to rest,” says Saloni Malhotra, co-founder of DesiCrew Solutions, Chennai.
 
DesiCrew Solutions, a rural BPO started in 2007 has four centers located in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and has 350 staff. It operates through a network of micro-centers strategically picked across rural and semi-urban locations, where each center has a 25 seat capacity  and runs in two shifts offering  back-end services to clients. 

Among the clients mix of domestic and international market, DesiCrew serves 5 of the top 8 life-insurance firms in India, global leaders in internet and digital media space and a fortune 100 company.    

Malhotra feels that training is needed for grooming local talent from rural areas to make them work in BPO environment. ”However, locals are far more dedicated in work as its not optional work for them compared to people in urban or city based BPOs. They take their work more seriously, enthusiastically   and eagerly; henceforth attrition is very low,” she points out.

Even Vullaganti agrees that attrition is much lower than urban BPOs, and this translates to significant cost savings in training and retaining employees. ”Thus rural BPOs effectively address some of the challenges of urban BPOs — high attrition and ‘heart not in the job syndrome’ etc,” he adds.

According to Rita Soni, NASSCOM Foundation’s CEO, presently rural BPOs have a very small share of the country’s aggregate BPO industry revenue; however, trends indicate there’s significant potential for growth in the near future.

Rural BPOs are based on the global concept of Impact Sourcing Service Providers (ISSP) and NASSCOM Foundation is fostering the ecosystem of rural BPOs in India.

Given the early stage of these rural BPOs, Soni points, “There are approximately 6000 seats in rural India, which may seem like a small number but the social impact is huge.” 

“The right combination of eco-system factors like industry link ups to dispel mindsets about rural areas as delivery centers, larger government initiatives linked to the talent development in the rural areas and state run schemes revamped holistically, can lead to a faster growth,” Soni adds.

NASSCOM Foundation’s primary research estimates that by 2017 the numbeer of seats could scale to 70,000-80,000 and the addressable market (potential) for ISSPs could reach $7.6 billion.

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