Indias development opens up many opportunities. Here, I will focus on seven key areas that entrepreneurs can seek to target in the coming years. While some of these ideas may be specific to the urban or rural context, others can work across both. The two things common to all of them are that they require much less capital than the build-out of core infrastructure, and they need new, innovative ideas. If we can make these ideas work in India, we could also translate them to many of the other emerging markets as they develop.
1. Education: Education is perhaps the most important investment that people can make in their future. Despite all the government efforts, universal availability of quality primary and secondary education is still far from reality. In many areas in rural India, there are schools but no teachers. In addition, there is a need for vocational education for adults along with specific training as they migrate to the production sector from agriculture.
2. Microfinance: Along with education, the lack of finance is one of the biggest inhibitors for getting people out of poverty. One of the ways to address the credit constraint is microfinancing. Grameen Bank of Bangladesh is one of the best examples of a profitable organisation providing credit to rural people.
3. Market Access: There is a need for information marketplaces (or exchanges) to connect buyers and sellers, which can help the producers get the best value for what they make. This is as true for artisans as it is for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
4. Information Access: The Internet has effectively bridged the information gap for many of us in urban India. Yet, the same information that we take so much for granted is not available easily to the rural populace. It could be about techniques for better agriculture or about healthcare or near-real-time information about the weather, made available in the local language.
5. ICT: Information and Communication Technologies are the platform on which many of the solutions for providing services can be architected. The key is to create affordable solutions which bring down the price points to levels which todays non-consumers can pay.
6. Energy: Power is still one of the biggest bugbears as part of the infrastructure in both urban and rural India. Innovations like fuel cells are making possible micropower which bypass the need for the availability of the grid.
7. Distribution Hubs: Products and services need to be made available to both rural India and SMEs. One of the ways to make them affordable is to create hubs for availability and distribution. Two such platforms are RISC (Rural Infrastructure and Services Commons) and the Tech 7-11 in urban and semi-urban India.
Next Week: As India Develops (continued)
TECH TALK As India Develops+T