As we wait for Digital India to fully penetrate the rural parts of the country, there are startups that are empowering and facilitating the implementation of business opportunities for better quality of life across rural India. Technology is the key enabler, paving the way for enhanced productivity and growth prospects in the countryside. Here’s our pick of five startups that are redefining rural India:
NIRAMAI Health Analytix
A deep-tech startup based out of Bengaluru, Niramai addresses critical healthcare problems through automated solutions. An acronym for Non-Invasive Risk Assessment with Machine Intelligence, Niramai also means free from illness in Sanskrit. The company’s innovative software helps detect breast cancer at a much earlier stage than traditional methods or self-examination. The added benefits of the automated solution include cost-effectiveness, accuracy, portability and simplicity. What’s more, Niramai’s imaging method is radiation-free, non-touch, less painful, and works for women of all ages. It can be used as a cancer diagnosis test as part of preventive health check-ups, and also for large-scale screening in rural and semi-urban areas.
This Kanpur-based startup provides job seekers in rural India with work opportunities in the cities across the country. Since its inception in 2016, EezyNaukari has established its presence in over 500 villages in four states, handling the profiles of over 15,000 job seekers. As a tech-enabled platform, the objective is to revolutionise India’s recruitment process for the unorganised and entry-level jobs. The startup – founded by IIT-Guwahati alumnus Rahul Patel, along with Nipun Sareen, Hemant Verma and Mohit Sachan – scouts for skilled, unskilled and semi-skilled human resources in areas that traditionally don’t have access to equal career opportunities. After verifying personal details, work experience and skill assessment, the startup provides job aspirants with a digital platform to reach out to prospective employers.
According to the World Bank, India houses the largest number of poor in the world: a staggering figure of 270 million people. Due to low-productivity agriculture in rural areas, employment growth is threatened accounting for nearly three-quarters of the poor population. In order to bridge the yawning rural-urban divide, Chandni Aggarwal and Kush Sharma started Rural Odyssey – a social enterprise that links avid travellers to authentic experiences at unconventional destinations. They hand-pick offbeat villages across India and promote their remarkable culture, music, crafts, art forms and much more. This not only helps generate revenue for the villagers, but also delivers authentic cultural experiences to curious travellers who want to explore the varied communities of rural India. Everything, from accommodation in the form of home stays to food, is planned and provided by the native community.
Started in 2016 as an internship project at the Digital Impact Square, a TCS Foundation innovation Centre in Nashik, Maatritva is a mobile platform that helps in the screening, identification and tracking of high-risk pregnant women to ensure that there is continuous care for both, the mother and the child. Given India’s maternal mortality and morbidity rates, the technology holds the promise of saving precious lives. One of the interesting features of the application is its QR code, which can be scanned to access all the information about each woman’s health and stage of pregnancy. The data helps to plot a graph to estimate the overall number of pregnant women in an area and their health status. Founded by a team comprising of Abhishek Verma, and Garima Dosar, the application is currently available in three languages i.e. Hindi, English and Marathi.
A Bengaluru based startup that connects weavers, artisans, cooperatives, and community-based enterprises with buyers, GoCoop was conceived as an online social marketplace by Siva Devireddy in 2005. It has been instrumental in helping handloom and handicraft cooperatives and artisans to market handmade, natural and sustainable products online to global consumers directly, thereby reducing cost, increasing efficiency, and transparency. The company’s mission is to create and support sustainable livelihoods for the nine-million-strong weaver and artisan community in India. GoCoop is the winner of the first National Award for Handlooms Marketing (eCommerce) by Ministry of Textiles, Government of India.
The digital revolution has the power to transform lives and drive new narratives of growth, especially in rural India. And startups are at the forefront, breaking barriers and venturing into hitherto unexplored business terrains. Thanks to better internet connectivity and online infrastructure, the gap between rural and urban India is getting bridged, leading to a positive impact on societies, economies and lifestyles. Because as Mahatma Gandhi put it so evocatively, “India lives in her villages”.