As businesses deepen their operations in rural India, they must bolster their efforts to understand the behaviour of rural markets. Our Vikaasa partnership recently launched the Stages of Development Framework for rural transformation.
Over the decades, rural India has seen staggered and non-uniform development across sectors. While the government, foundations, NGOs, start-ups, donor agencies and corporates stakeholders continue to play an active role in rural development, there are persisting challenges around the difficulty of access, wide geographical spread, lack of infrastructure and low economic standing of the rural population.
This highlights the need for a systematic approach to rural development that will help to unlock the underserved market through innovative solutions. It will help businesses tackle the challenges effectively and turn them into long-term opportunities.
A framework to accelerate collaboration in rural India
The Stages of Development (SoD) framework was conceptualised as a data-driven approach to understand the market potential of rural communities. It informs the design of solutions and delivery models best suited for each village based on its socio-economic conditions.
The framework can be used to classify a village, based on its performance against the development indicators, into one of the four categories: Underserved, Nascent, Advancing and Rurban. By classifying the village into one of the four categories, the user can better understand the current level of development and its needs, as well as the solutions and delivery models best suited for the geography.
The SoD framework can help start-ups, private sectors, investors, philanthropists and NGOs to make informed decisions, identify cross-sectoral and multi-stakeholder synergies to maximise social impact through an integrated, collaborative approach.
A launch event with India’s business leaders, innovators, academia and more
On 23 November 2020, through Xynteo’s India2022 partnership, Shell and Tata Trusts launched the Stages of Development (SoD) Framework.
Ramanan Ramanathan, mission director of the Atal Innovation Mission, graced the launch as the keynote speaker.
The event continued with a discussion between distinguished panellists: Ganesh Neelam, head, central & east zone & energy portfolio, Tata Trusts and executive director, CInI; Chetna Gala Sinha, founder and chair, Mann Deshi Sahakari Bank; Ananth Aravamudan, senior advisor & practice lead, energy, Villgro - and Anindya Chowdhury, country transition manager, Shell India.
The event was attended by close to 100 guests from diverse stakeholder groups including start-ups, incubators, investors, non-profits, academics, philanthropy organisations and the media. The launch event earned comprehensive press coverage across India’s leading media houses.
Identifying common ground for long-term growth
Delivering the keynote address at the session, Mr Ramanan emphasised the importance of innovation and collaboration to help India realise the dream of Aatmanirbhar Bharat.
“We are setting up numerous community innovation centres across the country under the Atal Innovation Mission, and this framework will be very valuable to their current projects,” he said, expressing his appreciation for the framework.
Pointing out the importance of collaboration and private participation, Mr Ganesh Neelam of Tata Trusts said, “We are increasingly seeing deep interest from private organisations for partnerships. We hope to grow while identifying common ground between entrepreneurs and organisations for future growth in India.”
Ms Chetna Sinha of Mann Deshi Mahila Sahakari Bank underlined the importance of scale to implement transformative initiatives. Citing an example of partnership between them and the State Bank of India, she added, “When you form partnerships with other organisations, you have to understand and share the risks involved. Tools like the SoD framework will be extremely useful to catalyse the development journey more systematically.”
Acknowledging that every solution has multiple components that need to be evaluated before it is rolled out, Mr Ananth Aravamudan of Villgro said, “It is imperative to optimise solutions, avoid duplication and identify the sweet spot where these solutions are relevant. We are happy to be part of a process that will offer a systematic approach and guidance for effective, all-round development.”
Mr Anindya Chowdhury of Shell India shared his views on the role that energy solutions will play to foster the development in rural India. “The gap lies at the bottom of the pyramid; hence, our focus is on rural solutions. The SoD framework provides a structure for various stakeholders to catalyse development and make the rural ecosystem sustainable,” he said.
Sharing the framework to enable cross-sector collaboration
The framework is accessible on the project website, which also goes into the background of the project, the need for an integrated approach and the methodology used to build the tool. An explanatory video on how to use the tool is also available on the site.
Xynteo’s India2022 team in partnership with Shell and Tata Trusts, will continue the conversation and build engagements with a focused outreach programme. Next, they will take the framework to start-ups under Villgro and Social Alpha, form collaborations with SEWA, Mann Deshi Mahila Sahakari Bank and Dalmia Foundation and to other relevant platforms such as Atal incubation centres. We hope that the framework helps facilitate and develop pathways to build sustainable rural ecosystem that will supplement India’s growth story.
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