A BUNCH of women from Below Poverty Line families in Kerala may well be competing with `hot and happening' BPO companies elsewhere if a plan by the State to take business process outsourcing to the grassroots takes off.
Kerala plans to set up BPO units by bringing under one roof the `Kudumbashree' IT units spread across the State. Kudumbashree is a project to encourage local entrepreneurs, mostly women, with the goal of eliminating poverty.
Under this project, there are 58 IT units functioning across the State, employing about 600 women.
They undertake data-entry work, desktop publishing and impart basic computer training. Most of their work comes from the Government, which outsources data-entry work to these units.
Now, the Kudumbashree Mission plans to bring together select IT units under one roof to achieve a critical scale required for a BPO unit. Five units in Ernakulam district who have performed well have been identified to do the pilot, official sources told Business Line.
Each of these units would buy 50 computers so that collectively they can boast of 250 seats. "This centre can work on three shifts, thereby having virtually 750 seats a day," a project official said.
It is estimated that each unit can go for a loan of Rs 15 lakh to buy the computers. "These units have taken loans to set up their existing operations.
Many of them have already paid off their loans. So getting financial support from banks will not be a problem," the official said.
There are hardware units functioning under the Kudumbashree Mission itself and computers can be sourced from these units, which assemble desktops and take up maintenance work.
The BPO unit can take up large-scale data-entry work to begin with and eventually handle more sophisticated areas, such as medical transcription and e-mail processing. "Once we have the scale, then we can pitch for larger projects. We have already got some informal feedback on this project from the US," the official said. In the initial phase, the focus would be on the domestic market and government sector.
After Ernakulam, similar projects will be replicated in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode districts, giving jobs to over 2,000 people. As for the necessary manpower, the plan is to hire from those trained by the IT units.
The Kudumbashree Mission is hopeful that the first BPO unit would come up by December this year.