B2r, A rural BPO

So the Himjoli yatra has begun. Pankaj Wadhwa, the founder of Himjoli explains that the mission of Himjoli is to prevent migration from the hills.

We have boarded the cars and are all ready to move . But hey wait… one of the kids needs a nappy change…So after  5 minute break the wheels of the car start to roll.

Back to Himjoli Yatra

Question:  So how does one stop migration?

Answer:  To find out why people migrate and then start working on those reasons.

Once such reason is that in the hills there are very few employment opportunities. So  you  leave to other places for seeking work.

And where do they go for seeking work.

Gurgaon. Yes, in its booming outsourcing industry there are lots many Uttarakhandi boys and girls working an earning and living.

You bring Gurgaon to the hills and the problem is solved.

B2r Office

This was exactly what what was in Dhiraj Dolwani’s mind when he started B2r (Business to rural) a rural BPO working from village Simayal, near Mukteshwar. This is our first stop on Himjoli yatraDhiraj has a background in the BPO industry. He wanted to stay in the hills and at the same time contribute something back. Some 7 months back through some reference he made a call to Pankaj of Himjoli who connected him to Chirag, the NGO that works on a variety of issues in the Kumaon region of Uttarkhand.  They discussed the idea of B2r and the first center of B2r was started.

The arrangement between Chirag and B2r was simple. Chirag would help bring the people to work in the BPO and B2r will manage the whole business.

So in September 2009 the Simayal center formally started. Today B2r has a 35 people team at Simayal center. Currently they are working with a law firm in India and helping them digitize their cases. A local employee of B2r confidently explained to the group how OCR tagging is done . Then we spoke  to the training team of B2r who are also from the local area.  Dhiraj also explained to us over some nice Rhododendron juice how the business model works and how something like this can be sustainable.  He also shared his plans of opening other centers in and around the area.

The  challenges of connectivity and electricity comes to our mind and suddenly a generator starts in the background. Dhiraj explained that it is the 2-4 hour power cut. He also shares how they have to  use data cards sometimes when the net is not working. There are challenges but none big enough to be not overcome by Dhiraj.

B2r is not an NGO. They just don’t want to give people jobs. They want to do it sustainably and also make a profit.  B2r is an example of a pure Social Enterprise.It’s a classic win win….The community wins, the business wins.

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3 thoughts on “B2r, A rural BPO

  1. Hi Rahul,

    Eons back when I was in college I used to be a volunteer with an organisation called FRIENDS of FERRY in Kolkata, ( don’t know if its still there) which worked on a similar premise as B2r.

    The idea was to provide job opportunities at source( in their case, village an towns) and thereby remove the reason for migration. However back then the idea of employment was cliched and a bit patronising: give women machines to make sweaters, teach them to make pickles…you get the jist.

    I never had any doubt about the intent and the sincerity of the team, but I did wonder even then if we had any right to put a cap on the ambitions of potential migrants. I found people don’t just come to the city to earn money, they come to become ” big”.

    In that context I think that the employment being provided at Simayal is both relevant and great. People don’t just need to earn money, they need to feel good about the way they earn it. When you figure that out, half the sustainability issue is addressed. And in todays world, what can be a better job than one that involves the computer.

    All the Best to B2r!

    Cheers

    Shahana

    PS: Curious about why the r in the B2r not in Caps.

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