Drishtee: Micro-enterprises in rural India

By Melissa | April 12, 2012 | Social Enterprise Buzz

One in eight people on the planet live in an Indian village. That is 775 million people, of which half live on less than $1 a day. These low-income communities lack access to essential products and services because they are secluded and do not have the means to afford such necessities. There is tendency for government and the private sector to focus on urban development, leaving rural areas without electricity, healthcare, water, communication, education, or roads. This gap led social enterprise Drishtee to enable access for rural communities and build a stronger rural economy.

Image courtesy: Social Enterprise Buzz

Drishtee creates an ecosystem of micro-enterprises run by entrepreneurs in rural villages. With a focus on women – as insights show that most of the dollar a woman earns goes to the family and as a result everyone benefits – Drishtee trains entrepreneurs so that they can establish kiosks to provide villagers nearby with essential services. These entrepreneurs become Drishtee microfranchisees and can start their own business for an appropriate licensing fee, which can also be financed with a microcredit loan.

This holistic approach allows rural communities to gain access to markets while enabling villagers to improve their income levels. The kiosks provide products and services including basic computer and English education, healthcare, banking, eyeglasses, mobile phones, and agricultural products.

Today, Drishtee is well-established in Assam, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh and works in 12 states across rural India. There are currently over 14,000 entrepreneurs on the network. As they continue to create opportunities within villages for more entrepreneurs and for existing ones to sustain themselves, they are planning expansion in Africa where rural communities experience similar isolation.

An online platform called Drishtee Haat allows rural producers to sell their products across the globe. 10% of the sales on this platform go back to the producer network as Capacity Building Fund for product development and skills upgrade.

Through a sustainable low-cost, rural supply chain network, Drishtee has created significant cost and time savings for villagers and the opportunity for them to generate income.

This article originally appeared on the Social Enterprise Buzz Blog.


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