Creating rural entrepreneurs through ICT
ICT use for sustainable livelihoods
The groups that face the greatest difficulty in getting remunerative employment in the developing world are young people (ages 15 to 24) and women. This is an especially serious problem for individuals who come from poor families who tend to have little education; the consequence is low productivity jobs with very little pay, keeping them and their families trapped in the vicious cycle of poverty.
India lives in its villages where the rural population accounts for 74 per cent of her total population. Providing jobs in rural India remains a challenge till date. 15 million jobs are required outside the agriculture and government sectors every year in the country. This immense economic need has a huge impact on society and the environment as indiv-iduals, especially youth who migrate to larger towns and cities, in search of employment. Unsustainable consum-ption practices are also leading to the rapid depletion of natural resources.
Both the Government of India and NGOs have been focusing on rural entrepreneurship as a key route to solving the need for economic and social empowerment. Small, local enterprises together account for a large number of jobs in the country and have shown the positive impact that they can have on individuals and communities. The limitations of existing programmes have been the lack of meaningful and viable enterprise options and the inadequacy of market, technical and financial linkages. Most important, is the need for capacity building support throughout an enterprises' life cycle, a facility that is largely non-existent.
Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) has the possibility to remove some of the constraints as it substantially enhances the delivery of services at much lower cost than current resource intensive solutions. Sporadic initiatives across the country have shown the potential of ICT as an effective tool.