Enabling Rural Startups to Thrive

Analysts estimate that the next 100 million people who will participate in e-commerce will belong to Indias smaller towns. Urban India has definitely benefited from the huge vibrancy in startups, but it’s time to look at how rural startups can be enabled. The biggest problems for rural enterprises to launch are connectivity, customer acquisition, and credit. These stand in the way for rural entrepreneurs to thrive in the market.

A session at the Kakatiya Sandbox Development Dialogue 2016 focused on the importance of stimulating the energy required to encourage the young people in rural India to start something of their own. “Rural areas are a fertile ground for entrepreneurship. You can find a lot of people with an entrepreneurial bent of mind. What is needed is an ecosystem and a system to facilitate peer learning,” says Dr. Radhika Shankar, Founder, Wise Owl Consulting.

24121677794_37efd9a034_zHow many children in rural areas have the freedom to dream, to envisage, think and not worry about their day to day existence? It is important to encourage people to be curious all the way from rural schooling which would help convert them to be great entrepreneurs. They need to learn the art of trying, failing, and doing bigger things. There are a number of highly innovative and thoughtful individuals in rural areas who have the ability to do so, but what is lacking is the support to provide them with ongoing mentorship and funding.

Ajit Rangnekar, Director, GMAC says, “The problems that entrepreneurs try to solve should be relevant in the local context. Find problems in the immediate vicinity and try to solve them.”

Bringing up IT, BPO jobs, and micro centres to generate employment in these areas is one way, but we need to really look at ways to create a platform where companies are inspired to make a change in their own community. Murali Vullaganti, Co-Founder and CEO, Rural Shores adds, “When you set up a business, there is a consumer ecosystem that builds around it. Entrepreneurship is not just providing employment, but enabling the change makers to really start engaging the communities and do more.”

To spark a lot of momentum in enabling startups in rural India, there are several factors that need to be pumped up. Within the next 10 years, around 200,000 startups are a possibility. For the rural public, sky is the limit once they are empowered.