The one thing that India has in abundance is people and the other thing is entrepreneurs. No wonder then, that more and more angel investors are coming forth to invest in and seed businesses. Talking about women entrepreneurs alone, some reports say that women could very well drive internet growth in the future. WEBOPower, an online community for businesswomen was launched to support and guide to them.
If you think that all this high-power new business activity is limited to urban India alone, then you are mistaken. Women in rural Gujarat have started working for a co-operative called ‘RUDI’, where in they sell produce procured from farmers, locally. While this is a fairly simple business model, it has its fair share of complications that arise due to poor infrastructure. These women, known as ‘Rudibens’ have to travel long distances and long hours to reach RUDI centres.
Keeping these problems these rural women have to face in mind, the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women has partnered with Vodafone Foundation in India and Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) (that overlooks the functioning of RUDI) to develop a mobile-based Management Information System (MIS) that will empower these women. Most of these women own basic cell phones and via this MIS solution their phones will now have a Java Interface through which they will be able to place orders for new stock as well receive sales orders. This data will be transmitted to the RUDI centre via a basic text message and the backend application at the RUDI centre will store information regarding finances, etc. This will save these women time and help them to deliver on-time and earn more.
This programme is catering to 2,000 women entrepreneurs in India and intends to play a greater role over a period of three-years by helping these women to better their business model and by giving them financial training.
Given that India is among the top three fastest growing internet markets, I think this mobile internet based initiative is great and is going to be a huge success. I think many more efforts like these are needed to empower the rural women in our country, thereby making them independent and ensuring that they are in a better position to look after themselves and their families.