>> An elderly woman walks just 2 kms. from her home to get a weekly blood pressure level check despite the fact that the nearest doctor is 20 kms. away.
>> An unemployed youth in a remote village submits applications to the top 10 job opportunities across 3 different cities every day at a cost of less than 50 cents per day.
>> A farmer monitoring an unusual crop disease in his field has agricultural experts located 300 kms. away examine plant samples and give him weekly updates for 50 cents per session, without ever leaving his village.
>> Young children who have never even played a simple video game navigate their way through complex racing games and adventure simulations.
These scenarios, among others, are played out every day in villages across the country. Internet / gaming parlors, computer education / school tutorial centers, remote healthcare facilities, photo studios, insurance agents, agriculture consultants – a single village hosts all of these. The common access point: A rural kiosk.
This paper is based on a study conducted over a period of one year at 300 rural kiosks across India, talking to over 3000 customers. For the purposes of this study, we have defined a rural kiosk as “one or more computer(s), with Internet connectivity, offering ICT-enabled services aimed at providing information access, means of communication and developmental mechanisms for the rural population.”
All of the kiosks which are part of this study are run by entrepreneurs as for-profit social enterprises that are members of two leading franchises: n-Logue Communications Pvt. Ltd. and Drishtee Dot Com. These entrepreneurs make capital investments through sources such as their own savings, bank loans, and borrowings from friends / relatives. These kiosks, therefore, have a dual mission: marrying community social development with individual economic gain. The study has looked closely at the kiosk owner, kiosk consumer profiles, E-Services offered through the kiosk, the income potential of the kiosk and service usage patterns of the consumer. Some of the important learnings emerging from this study are:
>> Most of the kiosks currently function more like cyber-cafes / gaming booths or computer education centers. Usage of development-oriented services (E-Agriculture, etc.) is lower.
>> Despite consistently low revenues, most kiosk owners believe that, with more locally relevant content/ services, better internet connectivity and reliable technical support, a rural kiosk is a sustainable business.
>> Kiosk owners are exploring alternate revenue generation options which do not depend on services provided by an external resource