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Digital Villages For Rural Women


Rural BPOs are investing in inclusize and accountable companies for sustainable development in India. This has greatly helped in creating meaningful opportunities that create better and sustainable lives. Even though the focus is on providing high quality outsourced solutions to the clients, the companies also work towards larger social scenarios and thereby creating a positive socio-economic impact.

Some Rural BPOs have laid out programmes that specifically focus on women empowerment. This is because some women may not have the opportunities to move to cities compared to the men. Some Rural BPOs also focus on the disadvantaged individuals in the community, the minorities and the people with disabilities.

Every year on the 15th of October, the United Nations calls on all of us to celebrate the international day of rural women. Can the roads be equal for everybody where everyone gets the opportunity to be leaders accompanied with similar benefits?

By digitizing villages, rural women and girls can expand their horizons and connect with the rest of the world. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals present an opportunity for business-led solutions and technologies to be developed and implemented to address the world's biggest sustainable development challenges.

I thought of how a digital village can look like. Listed are the resources that need to be present to digitize a village to benefit rural women.
  • Internet connectivity through Wi-Fi hotspots as well as voice connectivity.
  • Affordable and reliable electricity.
  • Investing in Knowledge: Rural women could be taught how to make use of internet via smart phones so as to carry our business transactions online and to keep up with beneficial happenings on the global scale.
  • Presence of banks in villages that enable mobile phone transactions.
  • Availabilty of Automatic Teller Machines.
Gender inequality persists worldwide, depriving women and girls of their basic rights and opportunities. We know that women and girls are a powerful force for change since many of them are well educated and should be rewarded based on merit.

We need to create an environment where women feel it is through their merit that they have risen. When we uplift women and girls, we can break the cycle of poverty. We can help them delay their marriages, choose the timing and spacing of their pregnancies, access needed services and information, complete their education, and gain the knowledge and skills they need to participate in the global economy and in their country's development. 

The following pie chart illustrates the comparison between internet users in Urban India and Rural India based on gender.



There are opportunities for all of us to reflect upon the gains we have made and envision ways in which we can further work towards  the entrenchment of sustainable development goal number 5 of gender equality within our organizations and companies.

We have the opportunity to make the world more stable, secure and resilient. Rural women need to be economically empowered by creating formal employment in their villages. Digitizing the villages is one way that can create opportunities for them. Companies should be building issues of gender into their work-plans and supply chains.

Women should not just be treated as consumers of products and services but as part of the workforce. Women are symbols of hope and can contribute to thriving economies. Rural women can make extraordinary transformational change not just a dream but a reality. When we put women and girls at the center of development, we can see a positive ripple effect across their families, communities and nations.

The Author of this article is Susan Rujema. She is a Rwandan citizen who holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication and a Master of Science degree in Procurement and Logistics. She is currently a SITA intern with DesiCrew Solutions working on aligning DesiCrew to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. She earlier worked in monitoring and evaluation in Kenya and communications in Rwanda. Her interest lies in entrepreneurship, peace building, gender development, children's advocacy, climate action and human rights.

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Human Learning vs Machine Learning


If machines can be taught to learn, human beings should outdo machines, by being human.

Learning as per the dictionary definition has the following aspects:

Definition of learning
1: knowledge or skill acquired by instruction or study
2: modification of a behavioral tendency by experience

All of us now know that the first part can be mimicked by machines and AI/ML is aiming for the second part through the first one.

But what are the key steps in this process and where are humans better than the machines?
We now have machines that can translate languages, compose music, write novels and operate vehicles.

The primary goal of AI research may be to teach machines how to learn, thereby automating some of the tasks that complicate our everyday lives, but brain scientists are saying it goes both ways: We now know more about human learning as a result of machine learning, and it has some exciting implications for the classroom.

Saga Briggs, Managing Editor of InformED in her article, What Machine Learning Is Teaching Us About Human Learning mentions four especially intriguing insights from the field:

1. Our bodies aid our memories
2. Metaphors are powerful learning tools
3. There is no substitute for "Learning by doing"
4. Good teaching draws on Shared Experience

They emphasize the point "Google" cannot replace "Gurus" and learning can be an effective tool for differentiation to careers. With the advent of DTOUCH 3.0 program of DesiCrew, it may be instructive to understand more about the Learning and Retention process. The following graphic illustrates the importance of practical application of classroom learnings in retention.


 "Bloom's Taxanomy' provides a hierarchical model for the cognitive procedures and goals of learning divided into 6 levels where level 1 is the most basic level for teaching knowledge acquisition and level 6 the top with the highest education requirements to meet the goals of a specific educational program. Mastering a specific level is a prerequisite to move to the next higher level. The levels are defined as follows:

1. Remembering/Memorizing defined as the knowing of previously learned material or retrieving, recognizing and recalling relevant knowledge.
2. Understanding defined as being able to comprehend facts by comparing and interpreting main ideas within the learned material
3. Applying defined as the ability to use learned material in a new unprompted way of abstraction and to solve a newly defined problem.
4. Analyzing defined as the ability to examine a problem area and identify the various components ( breaking the problem down).
5. Evaluating defined as the ability to make judgements based on criteria or standards or to combine parts to form a new concept or idea.
6. Creating defined as the ability to integrate learning from different areas into a plan for solving a problem and to propose alternative solutions.

The findings of Peter Rudin in his recent essay on Thoughts on Human vs Machine Learning, published in Singularity 2030  can be summarized as below:


As stated above, machines can clearly outscore humans where the power of computing and speed of processing BIG DATA will tilt the balance. Even here, since learning is a cognitive process, adaptability for each student comes into the picture. Machine learning can be used to account for adaptability. Researchers are postulating that the result of each assessment of the student can be recorded in order to determine the probability of success in the next assessments.

It is pertinenent to note that MOOCs have succeeded in a big way in the use of audio-visuals in making the teaching more efficient, the team work and motivation to learn (which cannot be replicated by machines) still remain the greatest assets in the learning process. 

Happy Learning to everyone, both machines and humans!

The author of this article is J K Manivannan, CEO of DesiCrew Solutions, a leader in the impact Sourcing space. He has been pursuing the link between technology, job creation and rural areas in his career spanning over two decades. You can find him here: LinkedIn

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Building Smart Communities Using Big Data



One of the most valuable resources in today's global village is data. Data can improve learning, help one try new practices and continuously improve their knowledge and skills. Data is a community asset to be valued and shared to enhance data-driven decision-making. The use of big data and analytics has expanded to rural areas through Business Processing Outsourcing (BPO) companies that have set up rural centers. This trend is common in India where achieving extreme cost benefits has been the underlying force driving businesses to set up BPOs in rural India.

Rural BPOs are commited to delivering business value to a wider range of clients and at the same time transform the rural ecosystem to sustain non-agricultural jobs. This contributes greatly in building smart communities within rural India where the BPOs have set up base because most of them hire employees residing in nearby villages. Such ventures can improve the ability of the community and its members to compete in today's world since the employees get to interact with customers from across the globe.


Data science and data analytics are at the core of every modern globalized industry. Working in today's technology-centric workforce not only requires superior leadership skills, but the ability to translate data problems into the bigger picture for the organization. Companies are today using big data for consumer profiling, personalized services and predictive analysis to optimize sales. 

This technique can be applied to gather information about people's wellbeing  as well. This is very exciting but at the same time, there is the challenge of privacy and potential abuses of data. Legal frameworks in many countries have not yet caught up with the exponential potential of advanced technology. With information shooting from different corners, we are required to find the most reliable sources by validating data to enhance its credibility. Companies need to invest in data security in order to curb unauthorized access to confidential information and at the same time, prevent data corruption.

Smart Communities: Photo by Chris Barbalis on Unsplash

 On September 25, 2015 world leaders gathered at the United Nations in New York to adopt the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a truly universal, and transformative global development agenda. Countries need to have high quality disaggregated data for policy making and for monitoring the progress of implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

The role of corporates by and large has been understood in terms of a commercial business but that narrative is changing. To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we require the efforts of everybody including the pulling together of resources by governments, businesses and civil society.

Data can be disaggregated by sex, age, geography, income, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability and other characteristics relevant in national contexts of different countries. When data is disaggregated, the analysis can account for the most vulnerable and marginalized populations and enhance measurements of discrimination and inequalities both within and among contries.

Big Data for development is about turning imperfect, complex, often unstructured data into actionable information. This implies leveraging advanced computational tools (such as machine learning), which have developed in other fields, to reveal trends and correlations within and across large data sets that would otherwise remain undiscovered. Above all, it requires human expertise and perspectives to create data driven policies, businesses and cultures for a better future.

The Author of this article is Susan Rujema. She is a Rwandan citizen who holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication and a Master of Science degree in Procurement and Logistics. She is currently a SITA intern with DesiCrew Solutions working on aligning DesiCrew to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. She earlier worked in monitoring and evaluation in Kenya and communications in Rwanda. Her interest lies in entrepreneurship, peace building, gender development, children's advocacy, climate action and human rights.

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Blending Human Intelligence With Machines In Data Analytics


Source
Do you believe you could be replaced by machines? Let me rephrase this! Are you feeling like you are being replaced by the machine? Do you also believe machines will exceed human performance? Well, my view is totally different. What about creating a proper combination between the man and the machine for data analytics solutions?

Majority of the Industries today are accelerated into data analytics. This has lead to many businesses realizing the necessity for an efficient and increased machine usage. There are mixed reactions though on whether the machines are able to understand the business logic. The loopholes identified in the machines should pave way for human middle-ware incorporation.

For Instance, a case of a major tech company that collects and curates publicly available data from multiple sources to provide competitor price intelligence services to E-Commerce companies, was looking for a partner to work on the value chain to provide services through well trained and highly available Human Intelligence. The tech company sorted for human intervention to rectify the unstructured data relating to the design of their dashboard.

As a way of improving system performance, the company needed a proper balance between their machine output and human input. The work involved matching single or multiple attributes such as brand, product, price, stock and images of the given account with that of single or many competitors.

This critical process included:
  • Data Mining that required the collection of data from internet across the globe for multiple domains.
  • Manual Curation of data for various attributes for different domains. 
  • Data Collation, Cleansing and Standardization
How the company process was handled
It was clear that the processing power of the machine needed the reasoning power of the man. Desicrew team leveraged on their Human Intelligence capability obtained from past experience and operational excellence to:
  • Offer human observation on all major portals.
  • Explore the unstructured data, curate, collaborate and discover information dynamically.
  • Ensure high availability round the clock so as to complete the task at a faster Turn Around Time in order to cope up with the changes which are dynamically occurring in target portals.

Key benefits the company received due to Human Intervention
  • About 50 percent improvement in Turnaround Time (TAT) and wider time coverage
  • The best Human Intelligence support through qualified Engineering graduates who worked as an extended team of our client.
  • High-level accuracy
  • Approximately 40-50 percent reduction in cost
  • Less than 5 percent attrition and hence consistency in quality of service.
DesiCrews Human Intelligence ability helped improve the quality and usefulness of the tech company data. Through this engagement, the company was able to provide their customers' better actionable insights that helped in understanding competition, monitor their brands, optimize offering and increase sales.

These case shows us that machines ingest, connect and recall information for humans to reason, judge and strategize. Therefore, augmenting human intelligence with the machines should shape data analytics and ignite productivity. Machines should allow humans to carry their tasks better and also help create more jobs for the man.

Contributor:
Nelly Arunga is a Digital Marketing Strategist currently interning with DesiCrew Solutions. Her interest lies in digital marketing for good. She wants to use her digital marketing skills to grow social enterprises, NGO's, charities and causes that do good.
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    Collaboration Between Humans And Machines


    The brainchild of Scottish inventor John Shepherd-Barron, the first ATM (automated teller machine) in the world was opened on June 27, 1967, at a branch of Barclays bank in Enfield, north London. The dawn of contemporary digital banking had arrived revolutionizing the banking business.

    This year Barclays bank marked the 50th anniversary since the first cash machine appeared by transforming the modern day Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) in London into gold. This reminded me of a Barclay's advertisement during my childhood of an ATM placed as the head of a robot that would dance to the tune of the customers.



    The banking industry is one sector that is a pioneer of robotics and artificial intelligence, after all, ATM stands for Automatic Teller Machine. This innovation greatly improved lives by making  banking transactions easier.



    Today the world is getting ready for the fourth industrial revolution and some banks have already introduced robots to assist customers in their branches. The technology is ready and industries like the automotive sector are already making use of robots to help assemble vehicles. Automation is making manufacturing, supply chain and logistics industries faster, smarter and is reducing the risk of error.

    However, there are many who are concerned whether it will create more jobs or reduce them. There are opportunities that come with artificial intelligence but industry players need to also pay  attention to the risks such as cyber security.

    According to the McKinsey Global Institute, more than 90 percent of jobs will not be fully automatable in the future. Instead robots and humans will work together. The major question lies in whether humans are ready to re-learn and adapt to change.

    For humans to fully embrace it, it has to solve some of their problems and make their lives easier.  Many people want the assurance that these robots are here to assist them and not to replace them. With automation, the skill-set is likely to change and that requires one to update their skills to remain relevant in the market. We have entered a world where we are all students of life.

    The Business Process Outsourcing Industry could potentially be affected which requires leaders to prioritize on where automation can increase customer satisfaction. This may require re-training of the employees to be able to improve the quality of work using automation as a tool. It's about the collaboration with humans and machines, as well as the customers.

    The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal number 9 encourages industry development, innovation and infrastructure advancement which requires the application of the latest technology to make our lives better.  Artificial Intelligence can have a positive impact on society as long as; it makes work easier and generates more meaningful work to solve the problem of unemployment. Great innovators create opportunities and good technologists should contribute in solving problems through innovative solutions.

    The Author of this article is Susan Rujema. She is a Rwandan citizen who holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication and a Master of Science degree in Procurement and Logistics. She is currently a SITA intern with DesiCrew Solutions working on aligning DesiCrew to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. She earlier worked in monitoring and evaluation in Kenya and communications in Rwanda. Her interest lies in entrepreneurship, peace building, gender development, children's advocacy, climate action and human rights.

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    After Graduation, What Next In Rural India?




    How would you feel if you were given an opportunity to work in a village? For Arthi Varatharajan, it was a dream come true scenario. She is thrilled to be part of the Kollumangudi team of DesiCrew Solutions Limited. Kollumangudi is the first center that DesiCrew Solutions opened when they started in the year 2007 in the state of Tamil Nadu, India.

    I was thrilled when I was told that I will have the opportunity to visit one of DesiCrews BPO centers in the villages. The day was set; 30th of October, 2017. It was a road trip to a centre in Tamil Nadu State. Apparently, on that day, there was a heavy downpour that made the ride bumpy. After six hours on the road, we finally arrived at Kollumangudi Centre where I met Arthi Varatharajan.

    Arthi has worked with DesiCrew for four years having started out in July, 2013 immediately after her graduation. Two years after joining DesiCrew, she was promoted to be the digital operations team leader. Arthi is a perfect example of a lady that has been able to identify opportunities that reinforce her competence within the rural set-up.


    Arthi and her colleagues in a video about Women Empowerment

    She has been enjoying the benefits of working in a rural setting such as the low cost of living which enables her to save a good percentage of her salary. She has also improved her skills and increased her confidence by sticking to the bottom line of making the clients happy based on quality performance. Every day, she strives to learn as much as possible and to share her ideas with her teammates. This can include setting performance goals for everyone and working towards the achievement of the same.

    Her face lights up when I ask her how working at DesiCrew has changed her life. At 25 years of age, she gets to go home everyday to her parents' house. Her father is a rice farmer, while her mother is a home-maker. Arthi comes from a family of one boy and one girl. Her brother works in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates as a Diesel engine Mechanic.


    Arthi is the only child keeping her parents company and she really treasures these moments. She enjoys cooking southern Indian dishes and sharing meals with her family. She also gets to view the beautiful scenery and breathe the fresh air thanks to the many trees surrounding her environment.

    DesiCrew is aligning itself with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) by contributing to SDG goal number 1,5,8 and 9 through its model of taking the jobs to the rural areas with a focus on gender equality. 

    The SDGs are integrated with social, economic and environment issues at its core with clearly defined goals and targets. According to Arthi, the future is bright in terms of rural technology since rural India is growing ten-fold in internet usage. 

    I believe that companies should be consistently measuring their performance as they put more effort towards continuous improvement by meeting all the customer requirements.

    How do we cope with a digitally advanced future where many young people are disinterested in agri-business? DesiCrew Solutions Private Limited Company may not have all the answers but they have devised one way to sustain people in the villages of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka states of India through creation of non-agricultural jobs in their centers which makes me optimistic about what the future holds. Offering job opportunities to rural women in India helps to reduce the number of girls getting married early. 

    This year Arthi participated in the International Day of Women thus contributing to the conversation of women-relevance and women-impact. As a team leader, she has noted that both men and women are able to produce excellent results at the work place.

    Arthi is currently single and intends to get married once the right spouse is identified with the blessing of her parents. Until then, she is focussing on building her career with DesiCrew Solutions who are giving her the opportunity to work in her village.

    Arthi is what I would call a successful team leader. I believe the ability to lead a successful team requires one to be well informed and to make strategic decisions by promoting learning, reducing errors, making customers happy, getting things done faster and engaging people in understanding and improving the processes and procedures done.

    The Author of this article is Susan Rujema. She is a Rwandan citizen who holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication and a Master of Science degree in Procurement and Logistics. She is currently a SITA intern with DesiCrew Solutions working on aligning DesiCrew to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. She earlier worked in monitoring and evaluation in Kenya and communications in Rwanda. Her interest lies in entrepreneurship, peace building, gender development, children's advocacy, climate action and human rights.

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    Developing Rural India


    Source
    The journey from Chennai city to the village of Kollumangudi took us six hours. On the way, I enjoyed the beautiful eco-system and the spectacular scenery. DesiCrew's Kollumangudi center is nestled in the rural setting of Nannilam Tehsil of Thiruvarur district, in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. The center is well equipped with computers, internet connection and a back-up power generator with uninterruptible power supply to ensure that work goes on without any hitches. 

    The youth at the center are servicing some of the largest companies in the world which requires them to work in shifts in line with the different time-zones of the customer. The centre has employed 168 people from the surrounding villages of which 140 of them are women. This means 83% of the center's workforce are female. DesiCrew is contributing to UN sustainable goals number 5 of gender equality by empowering the girls and women through job creation.

    I was impressed by the credentials of the rural workforce at this center. One of them is Mohinder Nag, a 31 year old senior associate manager. He landed the position after seeing an advertisement on a local television channel from his town of Mayiladuthurai in Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu. It takes him 25 minutes daily to get to work riding on his scooter. 

    He holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Bangalore University, India and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Bedfordshire, United Kingdom. He worked in the United Kingdom for a couple of years in the distribution sector as a production lead. He has also previously worked in the Information Technology Industry in Bangalore before returning to his home town to contribute to rural development. He is single and currently living with his parents. Mohinder has one sister who works in animations in the city of Bangalore, India.

    Mohinder and his team

    With many villages in the world facing the challenge of basic sustainability, India is no exception. Since its inception in 2007, DesiCrew Solutions Limited has been on the forefront of creating non-agricultural jobs in the villages of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka states of India. As a manager, Mohinder has observed that the female employees stay longer with the company while the men can easily take up opportunites in other regions far away from their homes.

    This is because women are rarely allowed to move from their homes and have to stay with their parents and only move away once they are married. This is evidence of the crucial role that women and girls play in ensuring the sustainability of rural communities and in improving rural livelihoods. 

    DesiCrew is helping in rewriting the narrative in the lives of its employees through building a confident and independent workforce. After going through the training, the employees at DesiCrew Solutions are flexible and able to work for any client from any part of the Globe. Part of Mohinder's role is to receive the work and to check whether it meets the customer's quality requirements before submitting it to the customer.

    He also ensures that all the critical measures are put in place to ensure efficiency of the processes such as effective shift schedules. DesiCrew also has a disaster recovery system in place to make sure that there is no loss of data for any of the processes. Mohinder believes that passion builds the fastest workers who are able to unlock opportunities as they appear.

    Mohinder enjoys working in the Business Process Outsourcing industry due to the opportunity it gives him to improve his skills,  get vast connections and be in an environment to adjust to change. To top it all, he gets to work in the rural setting where he enjoys the quiet environment. Once or twice a month, he likes to unwind by visiting his local beach which is 20 minutes from where he lives.

    In India, the pull is strong for people to migrate from their rural communities to cities in search of jobs. Mohinder stands out from the crowd due to his love for his home area and the passion to contribute to rural development. His personal mantra is 'be socially responsible and a good citizen.' 

    I believe that leaders should strive to transform their organizations into innovative, efficient and sustainable companies. This can be achieved through cost reduction, productivity improvement, market-share growth, customer retention, cycle-time reduction, defect reduction, culture change and service development.

    Mohinder fits the bill of a leader since he is driven to make the customer happy by ensuring that his team is working in a proper environment to maximize their true potential. As a business process outsourcing company, the main question on an employee's mind should be 'How can I make the customer more successful in their business?' Answering that question exhaustively on a daily basis will ensure that the customer stays happy.

    The Author of this article is Susan Rujema. She is a Rwandan citizen who holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication and a Master of Science degree in Procurement and Logistics. She is currently a SITA intern with DesiCrew Solutions working on aligning DesiCrew to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. She earlier worked in monitoring and evaluation in Kenya and communications in Rwanda. Her interest lies in entrepreneurship, peace building, gender development, children's advocacy, climate action and human rights.







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    DesiCrew is a rural BPO company that sets up IT-enabled service centers in rural areas, employ and trains local people to meet the back office demands of clients.

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    Digital Villages For Rural Women

    Rural BPOs are investing in inclusize and accountable companies for sustainable development in India. This has greatly helped in creat...