Prime Minister of India Hon’ble Narendra Modi has embarked on several national missions and initiatives. The key amongst these initiatives are Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana and Digital India.
Commonwealth Inclusive Growth Services (CIGS) was conceived as a bottom of the pyramid focussed business venture in London by Mahesh Ramachandran (London Business School Alumni, Founder CEO of CIGS) with encouragement from myself and was launched in the year 2008 by former president of India, Dr.APJ Abdul Kalam.
The project was also launched in 2009 Vibrant Gujarat by Hon’ble Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India (then Chief Minister of Gujarat). The objective of CIGS is to provide economically viable and socially relevant solution that catalysts inclusive growth. With private sector investment this social entrepreneurship venture today is successfully serving over 3 million people spread across 6,000 locations in India.
Under the Jan Dhan Yojana initiative over 180 million new accounts are opened across India. Along with the new accounts came the other financial activities such as deposits and withdrawals, Rupay debit card, Direct Benefit Transfer, Old Age Pension, National Pension Scheme, Insurance products, etc.
These millions of customers are being served by touch points that are managed by people from the local area through a hand held device connected to the national unique identity database (Aadhar) and to the core banking servers of the banks.
During the recent floods in Chennai, India when ATM services and Banks were not operational these women with appropriate gadgets were able to service the customers through AEPS (Aadhar Enabled Payment Systems) acting as Human ATMs.
In his speech on Digital India, Hon’ble Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India listed out his vision for a digitised India highlighting the use of technology to ensure quality healthcare to percolate right up to the remotest regions powered by e-Healthcare. He also envisioned that the farmers are empowered with real-time information to be connected with global markets, where mobile and e-Banking ensures financial inclusion, where e-Commerce drives entrepreneurship and where the World looks to India for the next big idea.
The Government of India now have the support and commitment of major organisations such as Google, Microsoft, CISCO and Facebook the Digital India project is envisaging broadband connectivity to over 600,000 villages across India. This is in addition to the Bharath Broadband initiative.
However, at present, only about 14% of Indians has bought products or services online making payment through debit or credit cards. There is a greater need and opportunity now to offer assisted service to these customers riding on the infrastructure backbone being created.
CIGS is now expanding its services by creating digitally enabled centres with appropriate training. The grass root level rural women Entrepreneurs are selected and then empowered to service the vast population of India who are still based in villages. These Digital Kendras (Digital Centres) offer variety of services from Banking, Money transfer, Insurance, Bill Payments, Ticketing, assisted eCommerce, Healthcare, Agriculture and Government to citizen services.
Technology plays a pivotal role in ensuring scale, analytics and reach. Understanding rural consumer behaviour and product adaptation (Bass diffusion) helps in sales forecasting.
Thus these Digital Kendras provide Brick & Click model set up at vantage locations empower rural women through distribution and collection of Self Help Group loans creating livelihood in rural India which is key for the inclusive growth.
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