“It may take a little longer, but that is our goal: 100,000 rural youth,” he said.
B2R’s Dolwani said he is doing nothing more than pushing forward the entire premise of the outsourcing industry: Moving the work to where it can be done cheapest.
Growing disillusioned with his former life as an executive at urban outsourcing firms, Dolwani and a partner toyed with starting their own company in the hills of the northern state of Uttarakhand, where they had routinely vacationed to escape the city.
There was a ready supply of educated, frustrated youth, but could they do proofreading and data entry?
Dolwani passed around a book of short stories by American teenage girls and gave an impromptu comprehension quiz to local youths, whose mother tongue is Kumaoni, second language is Hindi and who began studying English in the sixth grade. They had potential, he said.
B2R rented the only building of any real size in town and Dolwani began what he assumed would be the long, costly process of connecting to a faraway Internet line.
The fiber optic cable, they were told, was running right under their office, laid during an earlier program to spread Internet access, but never turned on, Dolwani said.
“It was like a dead snake in the ground,” he said.
While he waited months for the state-owned telecom company to activate the line, he made do with achingly slow mobile data networks. Even now, he uses a wireless system that operates over radio frequencies as a backup.
They paid to upgrade the village’s phone and electricity systems, installed a generator to work through the daily power cuts, gave employees intensive English and skills training and opened for business three years ago. They replicated that plan in four other villages in the region, and employ nearly 250 people in total.
The B2R workers begin each morning with a prayer, a regimen of calisthenics, the national anthem and an ever-changing roster of games. Women once too shy to speak in public in this conservative society, now tackle male co-workers and talk trash during a raucous game of kabaddi. A few wear jeans in place of the traditional baggy salwar kameez.<< previous 1 2 3 4 5 next >>