September 2004

Drishtee:A successful franchising business model for CMC

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Drishtee is an India-based organisational platform for rural networking that provides IT-enabled services to rural and semi-urban populations. Through a tiered franchise and partnership model, Drishtee facilitates the creation of a rural networking infrastructure. With nodes at the village, district, state and national level, Drishtee enables access to worldwide information and local services using its proprietary state-of-the-art software. Through a network of village kiosks, Drishtee and the local entrepreneurs deliver ICT based services to the rural population, providing users enhanced access to e-Governance, education, health, insurance and local services. As the ICT centre (kiosk/telecentre) is owned and operated by a local villager, the model supports wealth creation by developing entrepreneurs within the village community. With time, Drishtee developed its business model to create a sustainable, scaleable platform of entrepreneurship for enabling the development of rural economy and society by the use of Information and Communication Technologies.

Business model
The person operating the kiosk is a local matriculate (high school graduate) operator, entrepreneur, and only needs basic maintenance and numeric data entry skills, as most of the Drishtee portal is menu-driven. He bears the operating costs and pays a flat fee each month to Drishtee for providing ongoing technical and marketing support and also maintenance and upkeep of the portal. This is a financially sustainable and profitable model offering profits at all levels of the hierarchy. This is a model that creates wealth. Drishtee is facilitating access to various services through a highly scaleable software platform, as other service providers can use the existing network by just plugging their services into the Drishtee software and start providing services to villagers with minimal cost and effort. The villagers are able to access a wide range of online services such as e-Governance and non-governmental services like market related information, auction sites and matrimonial services. Drishtee is also providing localised content for educational and health services.

Social impacts

  • Strengthening the rural economy by creating employment opportunities, reversing the tide of rural migration, and improving access to information and knowledge
  • Use of IT as a tool for basic education.
  • Creation of a new generation of IT literate people with reasonable to high earnings who become role models for the younger generation
  • Removal of functional barriers between government and citizen: prompt, transparent, accessible and effective governance, which not only benefits the citizen but also the government by effectively making the citizen a partner in the process of governance.
  • Empowerment of the poor through their mobilisation and better knowledge of their rights
  • Providing the necessary infrastructure for provision of a range of (non-government) social services and commercial opportunities either directly by Drishtee or through partnerships with third party service providers.

The Social Return on Investment Analysis shows that for every US$1 of social cost incurred, US$20 of social benefit is generated.

Services provided
Drishtee has so far partnered with district administration under various states, as well as large and small names in the corporate sector. These include:

  • ICICI for insurance and Escorts for health services
  • Pustak Mahal for e-Shopping

e-Government services
Framed in partnership with the district administration, the aim here is to provide rural citizens doorstep access to several services for which they initially used to spend a lot of time and money to travel and get the job done. Examples are: driving license, land records, online grievances, etc. A set of e-Government services may vary across different regions according to inputs given by the local administration.

Private services
Drishtee itself, with no partner involvement, conceives these services. Several localised offerings such as: online marketplace (Gram Haat), email service, agricultural forum, (Krishi Prashan), etc.

Commercial services
These are implemented in partnership with corporate institutions covering rural employment, computer education, insurance, digital photography, agricultural inputs, e-Commerce, etc. In addition to Drishtee' services, kiosk owner may decide to offer any number of these services plus his own services (eg. typing) to tailor his kiosk's provisions to the unique community needs

Growth of operations
Over the many years of experience, Drishtee has developed a comprehensive set of operational documentation. This includes operational procedures, forms, and process guidelines.

Drishtee's entry into new markets follows a systematic process and enables 40 new kiosks to be launched just 90 days after entering a new district. This is significant in terms best practice propagation and implementation

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