B2R believes in "Rural Ethos - Business Ethic" and that, through strategic intertwining of business goals and social objectives we can achieve both sustainably. We want to leverage the huge potential in rural India, to create a best-in-class, service delivery value proposition to provide business support services to clients, which enables the creation of sustainable rural livelihood opportunities.
B2R’s vision is to:
- Make a high social impact in India by generating employment in rural India. This will provide our rural educated, unemployed youth with the opportunity to earn a viable livelihood within walking distance from their homes
- Create a best-in-class BPO delivery capability as the foundation stone to creating a profitable business, beginning with rural Uttarakhand.
- Facilitate and contribute to the integrated development of other capabilities in the villages by investing 33% of the profits (PAT) generated by B2R back into the community within these villages.
The vision is to set-up 60-70 rural BPO delivery centres in Uttarakhand in 7 years, impacting 6000+ families, generating huge value for all stake holders – customers, individual employees (and their families), investors & community.
The initiative addresses a combination of business needs & social challenges:
* There is significant educated talent in rural India. This pool is largely untapped by the services sector due to lack of reach & lack of local employment opportunities, other than opportunities around farming & farm livelihood. This results in mass-scale & somewhat forced migration to the urban locales. Such urban migration creates unprecedented social pressures & impacts the balance of family life.
* The demand end for BPO services necessitates that there be high quality business support services at lower price point. Giving the customer a significant price advantage from urban delivery centres has increasingly become difficult due to the rising real estate costs, staff salaries and high people attrition. While BPO service providers have started responding by expanding to Tier 2 cities, it is our belief that the real and sustainable model lies in innovating and leveraging around a scalable network of rural business support centres.
* In the larger context of inclusive growth, there is a need to create enterprises whose objectives are socially relevant without compromising on customer needs and expectations, by way of intertwining social objectives & business goals.
The vision is to set-up 60-70 rural BPO delivery centres in Uttarakhand in 7 years, impacting 6000+ families, generating huge value for all stake holders – customers, individual employees (and families), investors & community
The idea of delivering business value as an outsourcing partner to corporates - together with building social value on the edifice of creating rural livelihood, in itself is unique is that it pushes creation of more social enterprises like B2R. B2R team has put together several key elements in line with the requirements of the customer, the learning and the social context, as follow:
* The innovative service delivery model which, by design, delivers high quality services at a low cost footprint. The clusters of rural delivery centres in a hub-and-spoke model of relatively smaller size built on the principle of decentralized self-reliant service centres and centralized work distribution and aggregation.
* Appropriate elements of technology for power backup, internet connectivity, work-flow/image management softwares, data security etc. have been put together to create technology infrastructure in line with customers’ expectations & comparable to urban centres without any exorbitant costs.
* A values-driven culture is at the heart of the organization which rests firmly on the foundation of ownership and inclusion; Robust processes have been thought through, for the transmission of culture across new centres and people, as the organization scales.
* Focus on people development - a key principle from a learning & development perspective has been embedded the operations: the 1-in-6 principle; invest one unit of time out of every six units of time spent in individual’s development
In a short span of twenty four months, we have been able to cross some distance in demonstrating our commitment to our vision. Some highlights of the social impact are:
* Direct impact to household family incomes - Our operations started in September 2009. Since then, the monthly household income of over 246 families has been augmented significantly. In a region which has an average household income of between Rs 1000 to Rs 2000 per month, the household income level has doubled or trebled. The number of impacted households will roughly tripled by the end of March 2013. More than 58% of our employees who have led this change are women. This is very relevant at a time when India is struggling with gender bias and trying to improve the lot of women through a combination of policies and interventions. Some people who had migrated to cities including those that migrated to semi-urban areas of Uttarakhand have opted for a reverse migration through employment in B2R.
* Employability & urban migration – Prior to joining B2R, several employees have worked at jobs far away from their homes in nearby towns/cities (Rudrapur, Dehradun, Haldwani, Delhi etc). They shared that many of them could not make ends meet while working in those opportunities even when they were physically well. When unwell, the ability to maintain a healthy life on a tight budget further accentuated their feeling of loneliness being away from their families. The women folk, even though educated, have a lesser chance to even consider migration as an option due to family and social pressures. Most B2R team members are non-graduates though even the few with a college degree without prior experience of computers, in the urban context, meant employability in low-paying jobs.
* Indirect impact to the economic ecosystem – Economic growth has resulted in increased consumption leading to improvement in the sales of many local shops and shopkeepers – from the nearby grocery and provisions store to the local halwai who provides tea, snacks and meals to cater to the needs of employees daily at B2R. Based on secondary research, it is estimated that for every 1 person directly impacted by employment, at least 3 others are being indirectly touched.
* Increase in confidence of the youth and perception of the community – Several of our employees have shared that their lives have changed significantly since they began working. For some, simply the routine of coming to work every day has created a more disciplined, responsible individual - one who now commands greater respect at home. For others, the opportunity has demonstrated their abilities and given a tremendous boost to their morale and self-confidence. At a recent meeting discussion forum held between B2R, CHIRAG (Central Himalyan Rural Action Group – our NGO partners) and village representatives (gram-pradhans and upa-pradhans) a large number of village representatives opined that the community is very happy that its youth has a respectable opportunity to earn their livelihood and that too near their homes – we consider this is our humble contribution to nation building.
The domestic BPO market has a variety of service providers, from small players operating in niche areas to large ones providing end to end services. Both segments are finding it difficult to cope up with continuing challenges of balancing increasing cost pressures and high attrition rates with falling price points driven at the client end. B2R's delivery model intrinsically addresses most of the challenges faced in urban context and many of the key elements of its model helps differentiate over its rural counterparts as highlighted below:
* The recruitment process has been created keeping in view the local context which comprises of tests followed by face to face interview. The Interview panel members from B2R & local NGO.
* The training & development process has been designed keeping in view the learning objectives – the areas of learning include imbibing the organizational values, communication skills, learning to use computers, improving English comprehension, specific process/domain skills needed.
* Focus on people development - a key principle from a learning & development perspective has been embedded in the operations: the 1-in-6 principle; by virtue of this principle, out of every six units of time spent working, one unit will be invested in an individuals’ development.
* Robust technology elements which is fit-for-purpose, including servers with RAID technology as well as good backup and recovery processes engineered to provide sufficient redundancy.