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Distributing Tech Platforms to Rural Communities

BACKGROUND

The rural populace of Rajasthan lives interspersed across 42,000 villages in a state that spans over 340,000 km2 in land area. The cost of servicing rural areas is high given low population densities. This limits the ability of infrastructure providers to enter these communities, and in turn, makes it challenging for these communities to connect to the broader economy. While cities in India have raced ahead to develop institutions that provide banking, education, employment, and legal services, much of this infrastructure is inaccessible to the rural population, leaving them at risk of being left behind relative to their urban counterparts.

INTENT

Prodea partnered with ChangeLabs, ILFS India, and the State Government of Rajasthan to understand how its technology platform could extend financial, educational, employment, and entrepreneurial opportunities, in addition to governance and infrastructure access, to rural communities in India. 

A team was tasked with designing a scaled platform and a service-side interface to create a new type of marketplace for a range of services and resource flows that would:

  • Bridge mainstream players and markets with underdeveloped rural communities.
  • Lower transaction and distribution costs by aggregating production and demand of small players, and create an ecosystem of fair trade.
  • Support models such as “business-in-a-box” to lower the threshold for small-scale entrepreneurship.

APPROACH

The team assigned to this challenge conducted ethnographic research to understand the target communities, identified leverage points to achieve desired outcomes, and prototyped several solutions before designing a platform. Ultimately, the proposed platform was targeted to rural households across the state of Rajasthan and other low-income, agricultural communities in India, and  contained the following four modules:

  • Job training and matching
  • Agricultural market access
  • E-commerce
  • Water resource management

These four modules were intended to target the primary motivations and desires of stakeholders that the team identified during their ethnographic research. The aim of the platform was to provide people with a means of engaging in collective action, accessing information, and gaining relevant skills, while empowering rural communities to participate in the connected economy.