Adyar Bakery - since 1952
Vol 5 Issue 42, Oct 17 - 23, 2014
    Citizen Reporters      |   | Submit Story
Green WarriorsSocial EntrepreneursUnsung Heroes

An alumnus of BITS, Pilani, and Wharton is now ushering in change in rural India

   By  Kavita Kanan Chandra
  
24 Oct 2014
Posted 23-Nov-2012
Vol 3 Issue 47

In the hinterlands of Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, and Rajasthan, scores of women are being trained to be employed in BPOs set up by Ajay Chaturvedi, a BITS Pilani alumnus and former Citibank employee.

Ajay (38) had quit a flourishing career abroad to embark on a spiritual journey in the Himalayas which eventually led to his founding of HarVa (Harnessing Value of Rural India), a ‘for profit rural enterprise’.

 Ajay is providing jobs to hundreds of rural women in BPOs

Thanks to his organization, about thousand women, many of them just high school drop-outs, now operate computers with ease and have acquired the skills to work in BPOs. 

The women are trained for about 3-4 months before they are put on the job, where depending upon their skill levels, and the amount of time they spend in the ‘digital huts’ they earn anywhere between Rs.3500 – Rs.8000 per month.

HarVa recently bagged a project with an MNC in the US, which can provide jobs for about 100 women. "At one stage we had 11 BPOs, but we have scaled it down to 4 units due to management issues. We are opening a unit shortly in Rajgharh in Rajasthan,” says Ajay.

The workforce fluctuates according to the job at hand. Up to 400 women get jobs when the workload is at its peak.

Ajay set up the first rural BPO in 2009 in Bhiwadi, Rajasthan. He later forayed into community farming initiatives, and set up student help desks.

In the farming sector, Ajay encourages farmers to opt for crop diversification to boost their income. He offers suggestions on what crops are suited to a particular area.

He also counsels them on using appropriate irrigation methods. In Uttarakhand, he asked farmers who were cultivating Eucalyptus to switch to mango cultivation, as the former sucked a lot of ground water.

The student help desks, which function in Haryana, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Meghalaya, offer free career counseling. Thousands of enquiries have poured in, and they have been unable to respond to each of the enquiries. “We have been able to attend to only about 5000 enquiries. Thousands more are awaiting our response,” says Ajay.

After working abroad for some time, Ajay returned to India determined to find answers to the questions of life that had been haunting him since he was a student at Wharton.

“My spiritual quest began at 26 in Business Strategy class at Wharton. I started the self inquiry then. At 33, I went to the Himalayas and spent time with my guruji. At 36, I started HarVa,” says Ajay.

His story reminds one of Robin Sharma’s bestseller, ‘The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari,’ which talks about oriental wisdom and lets you delve deeper into yourself to understand life from a different perspective.

“People thought I gave up (when I went to the Himalayas), I didn’t give up but gained much more,” says Ajay.

Wandering in the Himalayas he observed the villages at close quarters and that provided the spark for HarVa, which he established in his words, as a ‘socio-capitalist business model.’

In 2011, he acquired a company ‘Source Pilani,’ a for-profit village based BPO that leveraged low cost rural talent and inexpensive infrastructure to provide services to companies at unmatched price.

The Rajgarh based company had strong capabilities in medical transcription, social media monitoring and regional language voice services. It also provided solutions for business support functions like data processing, software testing and call center support.

But ask him why he has started only ‘all women’ BPOs? He says he had no plans as such, but it so happened that only women lapped up the opportunity of working in a BPO when he went knocking at the villages.

Women workers at a rural BPO

Women responded well. “I neither preached to them nor questioned them about their customs, traditions, attire or anything, but just went there with a proposal for free computer training to all,” says Ajay.

The rural women proved quick learners. Even those who had studied only up to class eight and were seeing computers for the first time learned to use a keyboard within 4 hours, he says.

He is experimenting with solar energy and ‘gobar gas’ plant to power the centres. The pilot project is yielding encouraging results. “The dung from 50 cows is enough to run 40-45 computers,” he reveals.

Ajay steers clear of terms such as ‘women empowerment,’ saying, “when women are equal to men, where is the question of empowering them.”

He recalls an old Chinese adage, ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime’ and says that one has to do a bit more – dig a pond, fill it with rain harvested water, culture fish, and buy back fish from the man!

Ajay’s philosophy for HarVa is perhaps encapsulated in the above words.
 



Print  |  Email  | 
 Share   

You might also like:

Solar power

The Delhi government, in partnership with the ministry of new and renewable energy, plans to implement a rooftop solar energy policy, which would involve installing of solar power plants on the rooftops of Delhi houses. It is a unique initiative to promote clean and renewable energy in the city.

Read More

Whodunit

The Andaman police have sought the assistance of LOA Editor, Zubair Ahmed, who broke the story of some army men’s alleged involvement in the Jarawa dance video shot on the Andaman Trunk Road

Read More

Stories on Innovations & Innovators
FPJs Meet Vidyaakar
adyar bakery
 
Mentoring Tamil Nadu



Popular Stories

Social technology

When technologists with social conscience innovate, society benefits by getting amazing products that change the life of common people. Bhanu Priya Vyas writes about four innovations showcased at the recent India Social Good Summit in Delhi

Read More

Motorcycle diary

An adventurous ride on a 500 cc motorcycle from Chandigarh took Samiksha Bali Dutta not just to her dream destination, Ladakh, but also helped realise a dream of turning a professional rider

Read More

Teacher Amma

A school teacher, who believes she is a mother to her students, G Sripriya, affectionately called by her students as ‘Priya Amma’ runs 29 tuition centres for underprivileged children through her team of volunteers, says P C Vinoj Kumar

Read More

Eyeing options

Where millions suffer from eye disorders, a young ophthalmologist has set up a clinic to bring eye care within the reach of the poor and the rural population. Akash Bisht spoke to Parveez Ubed, who started ERC Eye Care 3 years ago in Assam

Read More

Tender idea

One reason carbonated soft drinks score over tender coconut is the packaging. A new machine innovated by Vinod Mahadeviah, which breaks and instantly cools tender coconuts, may make the natural drink more popular, feels Kavita Kanan Chandra

Read More

Milky way

The denial of visa shattered his dream to study in the land of milk and honey. But Bhasker Reddy managed to squeeze honey out of milk in India by starting a dairy business in Hyderabad. P C Vinoj Kumar meets the first generation entrepreneur

Read More

The challenger

It challenged the idea of Ice Bucket Challenge itself. Manju Latha Kalanidhi, a journo from Hyderabad, changed the course of a charity wave, turning it more relevant to Indian context. Akash Bisht spoke to the Rice Bucket Challenge pioneer

Read More

Sounds good

A device to detect hearing impairment in newborns will hit the market by 2016. Afsana Rashid spoke to designer Neeti Kailas, who explains how her innovation will help children born with hearing disability by facilitating an early intervention

Read More

Being the change

At an age of 28, Arun Daniel Yellamaty is already a known social worker, whose Youngistaan Foundation is into a plethora of activities in Hyderabad. P C Vinoj Kumar finds out from the former journalist how he changes the life of urban poor

Read More

Versatile rubber

Making use of rubber’s versatility, some scientists in Bhubaneswar have developed a ‘rubberised’ check dam. Kavita Kanan Chandra checks out the benefits of replacing concrete and cement with rubber and where all the new technology is going

Read More
 
Kudos image

"The Weekend Leader not only gives a glimpse of the better things happening around us but also tells stories of people who made it possible.”

Ajay Chaturvedi, Entrepreneur More Kudos
 
Archives  |   Columns  |   About Us  |   Contact Us  |   Feedback  |   Response  |     |   Cheers!  |   Support Us  |   Friends of Positive Journalism
© Copyright The Weekend Leader.com, 2010. All rights reserved.