This week on our round-up, we feature two entrepreneurs – one who has improved the lives of many in Uttarakhand, and the second who is giving more power to those at the BoP as well as the Indian government’s plan to create innovation based universities. Finally, we feature an interview with Narayan Murthi who discusses the importance of technology in healthcare.
Rashmi Bharti and her husband left the city lifestyle behind in 1997 to settle in the Kumaon district in the northern state of Uttarakhand. Once there, they set up a social organisation called Avani. Their first project was a solar lighting one where households were charged a small fee.
However, the families in the region were not able to pay this fee due to the immense poverty. Their main source of income was derived from hand-made woollen products but this was becoming unsustainable due to the market and general infrastructure.
Therefore, Bharti launched the Kumaon Cooperative, now called Earthcraft, to deal with the issues that affected these people. The management is operated by the locals and they produce hand-spun, hand-woven, zero waste and organic textiles. These are sold all over India.
The impact has been great. The women in the region have become self-reliant and Bharti’s own solar lighting project is now being expanded.
Murali Bukkapatnam is the founder of getdomestichelp.com, an enterprise which focuses on professional management of domestic cleaning. Bukkapatnam is also a part of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) which is a large non-profit volunteer organisation for entrepreneurs.
Bukkapatnam’s business involves training and employing 100,000 thousand people at the BoP guaranteeing them a minimum wage while giving them independence.
Bukkapatnam has learnt from his past ventures which is why he advises student entrepreneurs to plan meticulously in order to be frugal. He says funding for the venture will follow. He does note that the Indian education system does not allow creativity to flourish and he believes this is something that must change.
A major theme from the previous article was regarding education. Murali Bukkapatnam noted that Indian universities must change for entrepreneurs to thrive and it seems that the Indian government are indeed making changes.
The government has set up a committee which will study the feasibility of creating universities specifically for research and innovation. The idea is that this will allow India to become a global knowledge hub.
With the support of the government, there will be more entrepreneurs who will be willing to take risks and innovate to produce products or services which are required by people and they will have a better grounding in how to scale them.
Narayan Murthy, the co-founder of Infosys, is a big believer in the use of technology to solve problems in healthcare. He says that with technology, the cost of healthcare can be brought down and the access increased.
Murthy adds that India does have enough healthcare support but often, it does not reach the poor and needy. He provides examples of the advantages of technology. In Punjab, six e-health units have carried out 31,000 telemedial consultation and 17,000 diagnastics consultations have been conducted in the last four years.
In Madhya Pradesh, thousands of newborns have been saved because a hospital in Shivpuri uses mobile technology to send follow-up tips.
Healthcare accessibility will remain a dream for many rural Indians until 2040. That is why innovation and technology are necessary to serve their needs.
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