Motivational Video
Vol 7 Issue 26, Jun 24 - 30, 2016
    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
  
30 Jun 2016
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:

Unpicked votes

The vast army of rag pickers, who help keep Delhi clean, could not pick their candidates in this election as they have no ID proof to enroll as voters, say Shweta Sharma and Shradha Chettri

Read More

Tree saviours

Indian scientists have saved 131 trees at the 800-year-old Ta Prohm temple in Cambodia, during the course of their conservation work at the UNESCO World heritage site, says Richa Sharma

Read More

Stories on Innovations & Innovators
The Lead Star Digital Issue
adyar bakery
 
Mentoring Tamil Nadu



Popular Stories

Cool relief

Overhearing a home tutor’s physics lecture to his son, Ashis Paul of Grey Dhaka designed a cooling devise, bringing relief to poor Bangladeshis reeling under heat without power, says G Singh

Read More

Sworn benefactor

At the funeral of his brother in 1963, Deo Kumar Saraf swore not to let poverty-struck people die due to lack of medical care. Today, his Anandalok group of hospitals challenge corporate hospitals with their affordable charges, says G Singh

Read More

Nostalgic ride

A last vestige of colonial era, an antique train with wooden coaches still chugs on India’s only private railway line in Maharashtra. Narendra Kaushik traces the journey of Shakuntala Express

Read More

Flattening a myth

Dispelling the long held belief that flat-footed persons cannot excel in sports, Dipa Karmakar has become the first Indian woman gymnast to qualify for the Olympics. Partho Burman tracks the bumpy road the Tripura athlete had travelled so far

Read More

River revival

Noyyal, the river that fed the fertile western Tamil Nadu, is today polluted and dry most of the time. To rejuvenate the dead Noyyal, Vanitha Mohan is on an eco-mission. P C Vinoj Kumar profiles her on the occasion of World Environment Day

Read More

Wigs of compassion

A cancer patient’s elation over the wig he had made for her changed Marishetty Kumar’s life.  The wigmaker who made wigs for actors now sells his creations for a discounted price to those who lose hair due to chemotherapy, says Usha Prasad

Read More

Water winner

The ups and downs of B M Balakrishna’s life are linked to water. Starting as a car washer, he went to sell water pumps and then founded a RO plant. S Sainath meets the owner of Rs 20 crore Aquapot that is set to double its turnover this year

Read More

Poor’s banker

The son of a poor sweet shop owner, Chandra Shekhar Ghosh today sweetens the lives of women in poverty stricken homes with loans. G Singh traces the incredibly phenomenal rise of the founder of Bandhan Bank that has Rs.12,500 crore deposit now

Read More

Chef Robot

A love for dosas led to two friends in college fabricate an automatic dosa maker that is making waves by enabling chefs roast the crispy dosas that they were earlier not able to make outside Tamil Nadu. Usha Prasad has the interesting story

Read More

Nursing small towns

After experiencing the trials and tribulations of people from small towns and villages in seeking medical facilities, Dinesh Batra vowed to take specialised health care to smaller places. Today he is living his dreams, says Narendra Kaushik

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.