Saturday, October 05, 2013

A pipe dream

All humanity is equal. It is this strong belief that has led to me to think time and again about the less fortunate. In an era, when helping the less fortunate seems to a fashion statement, the work done by some people across the nation that I've been reading about is nothing short of inspiring.

I travel 35 kms everyday to the outskirts of Pune, to an area where rural India collides head on with industry that employees well educated people from all over India. But the gap between these pockets of shiny vast campuses & rural infrastructure keeps widening as we move further away from the city.

 I've been fortunate to interact on a daily basis with such people, and the gap is quite evident. Basic necessities they tell me are still hard to come by. Running clean water, electricity, dependable public transportation, healthcare etc are most of the issues that their families deal with constantly.Cityslickers, such as most of you reading this would have faced this, perhaps two-three times a year, that too not all together.

The Government clearly tries and fails on a daily basis, due a multitude of reasons which I don't even want to get into. (too many people doing too much Government bashing, with far more depth & data, so I won't get into that). But can this be the fortune at the bottom of the pyramid that the new age entrepreneur is slowly starting to focus on ?

Transportation opportunities are capitalized today by seven seater autos that seat upto ten, a highly disorganized space. Fast, omnipresent & cheap they are becoming more & more the parallel bus service of rural India. I'm hoping to see the day, when this becomes the hunting ground of the numerous taxi startups that are mainly focused on trips in the urban jungles today.

Forgive my ignorance or lack of data, but this space seems completely open for big guys and startup to jump in. With the likes of Aravind Eye Hospital and other examples that can be easily replicated, this spot is up for grabs.

Clean Water & Electricity, which is personally my area of interest and possible future activity is full with stories of everyone from Matt Damon to the local engineering institutions jumping in for a piece of the action. Biogas plants, Solar offgrid, Small Wind & Hydro, standalone products. The technological spectrum is varied and so are the business models, which means that its a case of  "the more the merrier" for these areas.

Also I'm keenly watching Education and Rural BPOs stories to see what sort of opportunities they are going to bring about in the future. I am strongly of the opinion that for the upliftment of this oft-neglected market and for sustainable livelihoods in these areas, impact investing & low cost innovations are the answer.

But the will to explore and execute is going to be the biggest challenge (even for me).

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