When you think of BPOs (Business Process Outsourcing firms), one would usually think about young people in urban centres like Gurgaon and Bangalore working in glitzy glass buildings in shifts. While this might hold true for most BPOs, there are a group of outsourcing startups and enterprises in India and abroad that have taken a conscious decision to work out of rural and semi-urban areas, thereby providing skill training and employment opportunities to the people in those rural areas.
These new breed of BPOs employ what is termed ‘impact sourcing’. The Rockefeller Foundationexplains impact sourcing in this way: Impact Sourcing employs individuals with limited opportunity for sustainable employment as principal workers in Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) centres to provide high-quality, information-based services to domestic and international public and private-sector clients.
OTRA Technologies was established in the year 2010 with an objective of providing employment opportunities to people in rural areas & to enhance the industrial growth in the rural area. Their service offerings to the clients are IT enabled services, business process and legal process outsourcing and market analysis & research. Now they have 63 employees and 40+ are on training and a majority of them are women.
Sankeshwar is a town in Belgaum district with a population of around 35,000. It has an average literacy rate higher than the national average. There are 22 colleges of various streams in 23 KM radius out of which 11 colleges are in 4 KM radius. The main occupation of people here is farming, with sugar cane being the main crop.
Initially the team at Otra (Vignesh Chavan – CEO & co-founder; Amitsen S Jabannavar – co-founder & Director; Gomtesh S Jabannavar – co-founder & MD; Anand C Rastapur – co-founder & Director) wanted to setup operations in Bangalore but during their research they found it more viable to set it up in a rural area as they would be addressing the pain points of the industry and the people in the rural locations. They bridge the gap between companies who want to reduce their costs without compromising on quality and the people in the rural places who do not get an opportunity to work. Most of the men in those villages end up migrating to the cities. The women who might not have this option stay back and end up not working. At Otra more than 65% of the total workforce is constituted by women. The management team is been working on this till now without taking any salary
“The rural BPO concept is a win/win/win situation for everyone. It improves the standard of living of the people in the rural place and hence development at the bottom of the pyramid” Vignesh Chavan, CEO and cofounder of Otra says about the mission and impact of Otra.
The services Otra currently offers are forms processing, data entry, invoice processing, transcription, scanning and web designing. Otra has managed to provide employment opportunities, contribute to women empowerment and enable better standards of living. They also provide free computer training in schools
Otra invests significantly in training young people to make them employable in the organization. The training goes on for 45 – 60 days which includes English, communication skills, basic computer skills, Ms-word, Excel, typing skills, leadership skills, process training, personality development and sharing knowledge and insights on the BPO industry and corporate culture. This training equips their employees with skills for life, opening many doors of opportunity.
Some of the industries they serve through their current clientele are banking & financial sector; insurance companies; transcription firms and local government departments. They are planning to expand in and around Belgaum district.