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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Interesting Course about Social Entrepreneurship

Last Saturday, I attended an interesting course at SCU - this was about Entrepreneurship in a social context. The premise of the course is that market in the developed countries are saturating and so companies need to look out at different countries and different markets to continue growing. The biggest opportunity lies, according to the study, at the "bottom of the pyramid". Developing countries such as China and India have such huge potential that companies must look at innovative ways to sell their products in such markets - they should include how to manage capital resources effectively, how to manage local resources and most importantly, how they can benefit the society of these developing nations along the way.

In the end, you need to nominate one company, whom you think is using innovative technology to benefit society in these developing countries and also is profitable. I am planning to nominate "Dhristee" (http://www.drishtee.com) because I believe that they are doing something very very unique indeed. Incorporated in August 2000, Dhristee seeks to mark a paradigmatic shift in the delivery of services to rural India by serving villagers directly instead of intermediaries, through the use of services enabled Kiosk franchises. The local Kiosk owners may also provide additional customized services to the surrounding villages such as ICT training, regional job postings and even matrimonial services, while the entire network is increasingly utilized as an outlet for commercial services such as insurance, education, and agri-services. Drishtee’s web-based software facilitates transactions and communication within a secure localized intranet between villages and a district center.

So, if you think about it, the benefits are huge -the Kiosk Owner gets a sustained income after a short span of time, hard work and absolute dedication. The community benefits because on an average a villager saves eight times the money that he spends on services using the Kiosk. The Government benefits because transparent functioning implies less corruption. Corporations such as health care, insurance etc can now have an excellent reach at minimum cost. Within a span of approximately six years Drishtee has not only been able to create, but also sustain and scale up a diverse network of revenue earning Internet kiosks within Indian villages.

Along the way, I also came upon a site http://www.nextbillion.net that acts as a database of companies doing such pioneering and innovative work. Do you know of anything similar? - leave me a note.

Cheers,
Thyaga

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