Women form the majority of the workforce in rural BPO firms. A DesiCrew centre in Kollumangudi village.
Photo: Jency Samuel


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Back-office business operations carried out by third party service providers in rural areas have emerged as successful social enterprises. In India, curtailing migration, aiding rural development and being cost effective for the businesses, they can offer a big opportunity for social and economic empowerment of educated rural youth. This above all applies to young women, who are particularly affected by unemployment.

Sangeetha Uthirapathi is engrossed in vetting a document on her computer. “We converted our client’s scanned document into an editable file. I’m checking if the two match,” she explains. What is interesting is that the document is in Russian, a language she does not know. In case of a mismatch, she resorts to online tools to translate the word, find a Russian original and check it letter by letter. Her six-member team converts documents in more than 40 languages, an exercise beyond the imagination of village youth elsewhere. Sangeetha is one of the 110 women and 45 men in their early twenties, employed in DesiCrew Solutions at Kollumangudi village, in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The poise at work, the lucidity with which they clarify doubts of new team members and the confidence with which they field queries defy the educational and social background of these youth. With a small thatched hut for a home, unlettered parents, shouldering the family’s financial needs and lacking three square meals a day, these youth are oblivious of the world beyond a 25 km radius.

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