A startup is not just about making money but also about introducing a change in the way we live, operate, and do. For various reasons, nine out of every 10 startups fail because they lack innovation. What matters the most is the idea that will not just fill pockets but also be helpful for the people who strive for opportunities.
Saloni Malhotra knew better. She decided to build a venture not just to make people’s life trouble-free, but also to provide local work opportunities to villagers.
An engineer from Pune University, Saloni launched her career from an interactive media startup in Delhi. It didn’t really matter to her what she was doing because the idea was to learn ki apna business chalana kya hota hai (what it takes to run her own business). During the stint, she decided to do something that might change the whole outlook of the BPO industry.
The idea was to take jobs to people instead of making them come to their jobs.
Twenty-three-year-old Saloni realized that it would significantly cut overhead costs, providing quality content to clients at ridiculously low prices. Not just this, it will also open employment opportunities for rural population, and provide some good infrastructure for the village. That was when she started DesiCrew.
DesiCrew started off with digitisation services, such as data entry, and data conversion. Over a period of time, the company added services like content creation and validation, GIS-based mapping services, transcription, and localization.
When slow down hit our economy, companies consider DesiCrew for many back-end activities because they save costs. But the team did not reach here without hitting a few rough patches.
Talking about hurdles and overcoming them, Saloni says, “There were three dots on the board – rural, technology, and for-profit. The rural outsourcing/ BPO model seemed to be the perfect idea for joining these dots. After giving it a lot of thought, we started working on the project, in 2005.” The firm was formally registered in 2007.
The idea was to set up rural BPOs in tier II cities, and small village, so that DesiCrew can absorb unemployed youth, bring in infrastructure, provide necessary training, and get projects from clients all across India. The unique firm has also managed to create non-agricultural job opportunities in the villages for educated youngsters.
DesiCrew’s biggest challenge was building infrastructure in a rural set-up that was at par with their client’s office in any of the metro cities. This was necessary to change urban people’s perception that quality work can only happen from cities. So, DesiCrew had to usher in broadband connection, stable power supply, appliances etc to these rural BPOs.
One of many impacts that DesiCrew has caused is bringing improvement in girls’ education. As they majorly employ women, parents are now encouraging their daughters to at least finish high school. The migration has reversed and the workers can now save upto 90 percent of their salaries, as opposed to 10 percent in cities. At DesiCrew, wealth is created by the community for distribution within the community.
No job is difficult for people who are ready to learn and work hard. “We have been pleasantly surprised by how much our people in the villages are capable of. They have put their hands up and delivered well on several high-end tasks. Our business model is evolving to meet the client requirements and we have learnt to be embrace change without comprising on our fundamental values,” the founder says.
Undoubtedly, DesiCrew would never have been born if Saloni didn’t have the guts to chase her dreams, and do literally everything in her power to convert them into a reality. She has been a game changer, a transformer, a social entrepreneur.
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