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DesiCrew: A girl's pioneering vision for rural BPOs

November 29, 2007
The first seeds of the desire to work for rural India were sown when Saloni joined an engineering college in Pune. "My roommate was from rural Maharashtra. She asked me what my branch was and when I said Industrial Electronics, she proudly told me, she was going to study Computer Science. Then, I came to know that she had never seen a computer but believed that studying computer science would fetch her a good job. I felt bad for those who live in rural areas."

After becoming an engineer, Saloni was sure that she wanted to work for the rural people. She was also sure that she didn't want to do any charity. She wanted to start a business, thereby generating money… and employment.

The only thing she wasn't sure about was how to go about realising her dream.

When she was working with webchutney (a consultancy 'that delivers interactive marketing solutions to maximize the value of the online channel'), she heard Prof Jhunjhunwala speak about n-Logue communications (a company he had incubated), and all her doubts were cleared.

"I wrote to him, and then came for an interview. The briefing was that we had to start a venture and I was given a year-and-a-half to do research on the project."

The first three months were spent on understanding the people, and working with the kiosks started by n-Logue in the rural areas of Tamil Nadu. The next six months were spent on finding out what clients actually needed.

In one year, they found that people in rural areas are as employable as those from urban areas: the only difference being that it takes longer to train them and bring them on par with their urban counterparts. That was in January 2005.

In February 2007, DesiCrew Solutions was launched. "There were a lot of names we were working on. This one was suggested by a friend. 'Desi' means Indian and 'crew' means workforce. A lot of people have told us that the name is very good."
Image: Saloni Malhotra (seated, 2nd from right) with her DesiCrew team in their Chennai office.
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