OPEN THE CURTAINS
I am Salma Ansari. I belong to a typical conservative Muslim family. Traditionally, it is not allowed for women to go outside and look for a job in my family. Beside my parents, I have five sisters and one younger brother.
I came to know about RuralShores Skills Academy (RSA) through a friend. Initially my father was opposed to the idea of letting me go outside the home and join RSA. Also, he did not believe that one-month training was going to get me a worthy job. But after visiting the RSA center and meeting the trainers, he was convinced that learning a skill will help his daughter recognize her capabilities and develop her talent. He changed his mind and allowed me to take admission in RSA and get trained in a job-oriented skill.
Earlier I had low confidence and couldn’t speak well. I was shy, scared and used to the family tradition of laying low and staying behind the curtains. But at RSA training center, I practiced and was able to vastly improve my confidence and groom my personality. While giving answers and explanations, I practiced talking in English in front of the entire class. My friends at RSA and the trainers were very encouraging. Slowly, my hesitation at speaking in English and in public vanished. Now, I am proud that I can confidently present myself in front of people and put forth my viewpoints with assertiveness. I don’t get scared very easily now.
The positive learning environment in RSA has given me optimism, energy and encouragement. I got a lot of support and motivation from the trainers. The trainers guided me through the fog of my insecurities and misgivings and helped me find the right direction in my career.
While sitting for placement interviews, I got selected in RuralShores Business Services (RSBS) as a Customer Care Executive in my first attempt. Now I am adept at attending customer calls and get many accolades and appreciation from my customers, subordinates and managers. Recently, I received an award for my good performance. It was a high point of my life. With my aspirations and success, I think I have established myself as a role model for the other female members of my community. I feel I have closed the curtains behind me.
RuralShores Skills Academy – Mermaid in the Sea of Sorrow
My name is Mina Rafique Shaikh. I have completed B.Sc. (Industrial Science). I am from Shingnapur village which is situated approximately 6 Km from Kopargaon. I belong to a middle class family. My family includes my parents and two sisters.
About a year ago, I was facing some personal issues and was depressed and suicidal. My family was going through a financial crisis and I was struggling to find a reason to live. One day, I was sitting at my home feeling dejected and low-spirited. Maybe the God sensed my misery or maybe it was a pleasant coincidence in my life that my neighbor uncle who was aware of my situation came to meet me. He asked me to join RuralShores Skills Academy (RSA) – if only for refreshing my brain and changing my mindset.
The casual first self-introduction just didn’t introduce me in the front of the class but also reminded me of my identity. After a counselling session at RSA, I realized my life need not be ended just yet. I happily realized that I have the caliber to prove myself with my skills and knowledge. I decided to develop my identity. I am going to be someone!
Thereafter, I got trained in basic computer skills and typing. I started regaining my lost confidence. All thanks to RSA team at Kopargaon. They were like “mermaids in the sea of sorrow” and came to save me from drowning myself. I didn’t even have the money to pay the fees for the training. I was lucky to have Chandrao Sir who trusted me and gave me a chance to complete my training by paying my fees from his own pocket. In the class, I found many other students struggling with one or the other reason and I realized I am not alone. Difficulties are present everywhere. We need to deal with them.
Thereafter, I was called for an interview at RSBS. I belonged to the batch of 30 students who sat for the interview and I was selected as a Process Associate. I now set a new aim for myself. I decided I will prove that girls can survive without support if they get proper guidance and skill training. It was RSA who gave me a new birth.
I have previous work-experience. The event of first salary happiness had happened years ago in my life. But this salary at RSBS gave me a heartfelt satisfaction. For some reason, it was beyond the first salary moment.
Today I am SPA for Quality and Training department in Non-telecom process. I am the first SPA in Kopargaon center to be acknowledged. I am grateful to our DGM who recognized my abilities and gave me a chance to progress and bloom in my career.
Not only my family but all my neighbors are proud of me for achieving this great victory.
I have learnt, the most important thing is,
“Do what you love, if not
Love what you do”.
I believe we must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.
Special thanks to RSA and RSBS RuralShores, Kopargaon!
Foundational Training Batch 2016
Outdoor Media Auditing
When you walk out of your house into the public arena, you are hit with the plethora of outdoor advertising media – billboards, banners, signage, kiosks, point of sale displays, interiors and exteriors of buses and what not. You find yourself staring into the eyes of the product enticing you to try it!
Outdoor advertising is one of the most popular ways to grab the attention of thousands of consumers. But reaching hundreds of thousands of consumers is not cheap. Neither is it easy to ensure the required quality and objective of the outdoor advertising. It starts with planning and implementation but it doesn’t stop at execution.
Are you getting value for your money?
Field Audits by RSA
RuralShores Skills Academy has nurtured a well-developed audit team to ensure that corporate organisations achieve a good return on investment on money spent in managing proper display of outdoor media through structural field audits.
We have a team of 100+ trained field auditors across India which helps the corporate organisations to check the installation and health status of outdoor media assets like digital wall painting, dealer boards, hoardings etc.
Outdoor advertisement is one of the preferred ways to introduce and advertise new products in the market. This is an area where organisations spend a large amount of its resources for reaching the targeted customers in rural/urban areas.
The organisation spends upto Rs. 150/sq. feet for outdoor media in rural and urban areas. An area of 100,000 sq. feet costs organisation around Rs. 1.5 Cr for displaying the outdoor media for 30 days. Here, vendors generally cut down the display time to 15-20 days and save around 50% of the total cost. The execution teams/vendors generally make money through following ways:
- Installation of media at different location than specified (low cost sites)
- Removing assets before stipulated duration (to place other brands at same sites)
- Using low cost material (to save money)
- Incorrect or bad installation (skills of installer)
RSA audit team visits the specified locations and checks all the parameters for displaying the media and share a detailed report along with photographs, geographic location etc. We also ensure that the audit is done twice during the campaign – at the start and at the end of the campaign, to ensure that the media remains displayed at the site for the specified duration.
Based on inputs given by RSA audit team, organisations can hold execution agencies responsible for any aberrations or mismanagement in the given work assignments. The cost of audit is quite minimal against the cost of advertisement. However, it greatly helps the organisations to save their efforts in managing the quality of outdoor advertisements and get value for their money.
So while the organizations can focus their time and energy on planning and executing their outdoor media advertisements, RuralShores Skills Academy will assess and ensure the truth and fairness of adopted processes and procedures.
– Sachin Tyagi
RuralShores Skills Academy – Evolution and Impact
The idea of RuralShores Skills Academy was born with the aim of supporting RuralShores Business Services in its objective of making an enduring all-round development to the rural populace through the creation of a socially impacting ecosystem.
RuralShores Business Services (RSBS) is world’s largest rural domestic BPO. It operates with the basic intent of taking the jobs to the people rather than getting people to the jobs. To achieve its objective of transforming rural youth into confident knowledge professionals, RSBS required a supportive arm to train and equip the rural youth with necessary skills and make them competent and employable. Thus, RuralShores Skills Academy was established with the task of training and providing for employment thereby empowering the rural youth.
The combined efforts of RuralShores Skills Academy and RuralShores Business Services have impacted about 900 villages and improved the quality of lives and livelihoods of the rural people. Post RuralShores employment, there is a 66% rise in family income and the average income is over the minimum wage fixed by the government. More than 26000 rural youth have been trained by RuralShores Skills Academy. About 22,500 have gotten employment. This is no longer limited to RSBS but extends to other corporates reaching out for marketing and sales in rural areas!
Since its inception RuralShores, RSA has diversified into various sectors and we have undertaken government projects, corporate trainings and surveys, retail and CSR programs. RSA started with training rural youth for local BPO, and thereafter trained people for Basic IT skills, FMCG/Retail process and sales. This is where we realized that true skillsets and mind approach will give youth the direction and alignment.
In addition to this, we also train and provide placements for physically handicapped students. We have trained deaf trainers as well as students and successfully placed them in appropriate organizations. We also encourage girls to learn and become a part of our social drive. This is reflected in a healthy sex ratio maintained amongst the students of RSA. Education contributes to greater independence for women in the rural society which has a positive social impact on the community. One of our highly successful projects includes training victims of human trafficking. RSA strives to deliver quality training through impactful courses, training of trainers and specially designed skill assessments.
- Structured training program
- Training & certification of trainer
- Regular student assessments
- Student certification
- Courseware for both trainer and students
RSA programs are equipped with courseware as per NSDC QP (Qualification Pack) and NOS (National Occupational Standard), online assessment and NSDC certification recognised by Government of India. This certification can help training institutes and NGOs in the placements of its students.
The efforts of RuralShores Business Services (RSBS) have been recognized nationally and internationally and recorded in major journals across the world. This reflects the success of our organization (RSA) as the training partner and skills academy of RSBS.
RuralShores Skills Academy maybe a for-profit company on papers but we might as well have been a NGO for all the efforts and ideas we put in training the youth of the country and working for building their careers and lives. RSA has evolved from a countryside social initiative to nationwide social enterprise. We engage and enskill various strata of youth of the country. We believe in the potential of the youth of the country and their capability in helping India transition from a developing country to a developed one.
– Shruti Patwal
Step in the Right Direction with RuralShores Skills Academy
Neeraj Verma is working as an ‘agent’ with RuralShores Business Services (RSBS). The ‘agent’ is an entry level position in a domestic call centre. He is preparing for merchant navy exams alongside.
Struggling to find a job, he had landed on the doorsteps of RuralShores Skills Academy (RSA) about a year ago. Anxious and depressed about the continuing failures of his efforts and hard work, he had developed a low self-esteem and he felt under-confident in engaging in a conversation with people. He had a good working knowledge of using a computer and even schooled his friends on it. It was at RSA that he realized what he had lacked earlier.
Essential Elements for Working in Life
Soft skills and confidence are essential elements of securing a good job in present corporate world. Getting through an interview is hinged upon speaking and behaving well. Your communication skills and confidence play a big big role in impressing upon your employer ‘Yes, I am the One’.
He says, “It is important to gain skills and exposure that help to fit in with the requirements of corporate world”. He heard through a friend about RSA providing training programmes and placement opportunities for skilled people. At RSA, he was given foundation training in communication skills and Basic IT which helped in grooming his knowledge and personality. The training has helped him in overcoming his hesitation and improved his personality. Before joining RSA, it was difficult for him to even talk to someone and maintain an eye contact. He was shy and introvert. At RSA, he enrolled in Spoken English programme, learnt speaking English and gained confidence in interacting with people. The training helped him in refining his pronunciation in English. He also worked on his manners and business etiquettes that play a crucial role in a working business environment.
Starting the Career
He wanted a job that allowed him to support his family. Now he is earning an adequate amount of money that helps him support himself and his family. He feels that if he had not attended this training institution, he might have remained enclosed in his own world oblivious to the opportunities that existed in real world around him. He joined RSA and found trainers and the training very helpful in building his personality, career and life. RuralShores Skills Academy (RSA), he feels, has given him hope and vision on which he plans to build his career and life.
CAREER IN DOMESTIC BPO – Training for Service Industry
Abhay Kumar has done his inter-final in 12th through UP board. He is a native of Baitalpur, UP. He is working as an ‘agent’ in RuralShores Business Services (RSBS) – a rural BPO at Baitalpur, UP.
Catch him during his office hours – dressed up in his office attire, coiffed hair and neat and clean appearance – it will be difficult for you to associate him with a rural set up. The training at RuralShores Skills Academy (RSA) helped him hone his soft skills and learn corporate etiquettes. This learning is reflected in his confidence, personality and good manners. He was very happy with the course curriculum and training. In his words, “it was 200% beneficial to him” and “the training gave him confidence to learn and grow”. It helped him come out of his hesitant shell and made him battle ready to face the world. Since then, he has never looked back.
Abhay already had clear goals towards working in the service industry. He wanted to work with RuralShores Business Services (RSBS) and he was aware of the fact that RSBS runs a BPO near his village.
Training Success at RSA
Abhay joined RSA and then could get placement in RSBS. In fact, his entire batch at RSA found a job in RSBS successfully with record 100% placements. He wants to work his way up within the BPO industry and rise through ranks and become a part of management. He found the atmosphere at RSA training center very friendly and preparative for service industry. He still remembers the trainers at RSA who he found to be very talented, accessible, communicative and helpful.
Career Planning and Growth
Planning his career in domestic BPO industry, Abhay says, “one of the most attractive things about BPO industry and most of the processes it runs is that they need only a basic 10+2 to enter the industry.” What they mainly seek among candidates is good communication skills and a willingness to learn. Most of the BPO companies hire candidates with basic qualifications and then train them. Many candidates move to KPOs (Knowledge Process Outsourcing) which are more interesting and pay more too. Queried about his own career growth in the domestic BPO industry, he reminisces, “I started as an agent which is the entry-level employee in a BPO unit. My first salary was Rs. 9000/- which has grown to Rs. 15000/-in two years. I am a top performer in my team. I am working my way towards getting promoted to team leader. I already have two years of experience and I am pursuing graduation alongside. Two more years of work experience in this process should make me eligible for applying to higher positions in the company. ”A potential employee can climb his way up from the post of Customer Care Executive to Team Leader to Assistant Manager to Manager.”
In a BPO unit, project manager is the highest level at which one is directly associated with processes in a company. Beyond that, the higher posts of Senior Manager, Centre Manager, Centre Head generally require a degree in MBA. It is important to take up training programmes that strengthen the skill set of an employee or acquire new skills. Additional skills and graduation degree also increase available career opportunities. Performance reviews are usually conducted every six months to gauge an employees’ progress. It is a way of evaluating an employee’s performance, skill set and the new job roles that can be assigned to him/her. When asked whether he plans to remain in BPO industry, he declares, “Yes, definitely. It is a very high growth industry. Given the vast cost-saving power of outsourcing and available potential in the country, the industry will continue to grow even through hard times like recession.”
It is an achievement and gratifying for RuralShores Skills Academy to have the opportunity and drive to hold the torch and lighten the pathway for students with potential to climb the heights of their dreams.
Who are RuralShores?
As a social enterprise, RuralShores, that started with 15 employees in 2009, they have grown in to an organisation of 3,800 strong across 18 locations, who work with the local communities to skill close to 14,000 people and counting.
They have clients across multiple industries and we started working with them in 2013, providing supporting services to 7 key accounts as well as providing services for Accenture internally.
Their mission is to Enskill – Employ – Empower – Engage, with the objective of creating sustainable employment for 1 Million rural youth across the 500 rural districts of India. Many of these young people will be able to support their seasonal family income with a steady monthly income, by up to an additional 50%, without having to migrate to the next big city.
The first thing that strikes you is the passion and commitment that the leadership team shows towards making this a success. We met with 6 of the people who make RuralShores great and each one of them spoke with conviction about the social enterprise that they have created, continue to grow and develop.
Their passion is replicated on the floor where we have over 400 people, across 7 processes, 4 delivery centres (soon to be 5) and servicing clients in F&A, Digital marketing, Order entry and management, Data management, Learning & Development and Mortgage services.
They also honour all our security requirements (they have fingerprint scanners for access) and we have worked with them to ensure data security and compliance.
The things that impressed me about RuralShores
They have worked with the local community to drive diversity in to the workforce, encouraging woman to come in shift periods that suit them.
All though we only have 20% diversity on our account, this is significantly higher than expected because of the local community constraints, such as families not wanting their daughters to be working or spending late hours in an office.
The RuralShores team have also done a great job of attracting and developing some key female leaders within the team which again encourages other women to join.
Added to this, they employ close to 10% specially-abled resources (31 speech and hearing challenged and 4 physically challenged) who compete with their able-bodied counterparts in exceeding their performance targets.
Their dream of inclusivity and diversity found its roots in the Bagepalli Center near Bangalore and RuralShores continues to drive these initiatives across all their centres.
They report 8% attrition but in the centre that I visited, it was closer to 2%.
Their “home grown” operating model supports building a sense of community and this ensures their attrition is low. They do see people leaving after 4-5 years but this is generally to gain more growth and development and can be natural migration to the larger cities.
Their confidence in presenting their journey, their deep content knowledge, their enthusiasm for the work is inspiring.
I personally could not enter the data they do consistently, 300 times a day – and in some instances, they are entering close to 30 fields in the space of 50 seconds and it is in a foreign language (the example I saw was Polish).
They have also invested in their leadership which means they are driving the right Operations behaviors.
Their attention to detail and ability to process complex data fast and accurately – meeting all their SLA’s every month, is impressively consistent.
With a learning curve of 12 weeks in the beginning, they have reduced their average handling time from 15 minutes per transaction to under 3 minutes with 96-100% accuracy in critical fields.
The teams were excited to show their control charts and despite the short period they have been in operation, the productivity they had driven though learning curve and process improvements.
They have also started seeding experience in to upcoming waves to make sure we get consistency in service for new processes/countries and provide year on year cost benefit to both us and our clients, achieving a 5% productivity release to date.
The things to bear in mind
If you have data entry services with limited to no voice, RuralShores should be considered.
The cost vs benefit equation on this one for me is a no brainer. You won’t always get experienced CA’s, C1 language skills or graduate level knowledge but for half of your cost, you will get unmatched stability and high quality output (and you get the feel-good factor of supporting a local social enterprise while doing it).
An example of this on my project is that despite a 300% spike in volumes, the team still managed to process 88% within the 15 minute required turn-around-time and maintained the accuracy SLA, which even our client commented was an incredible success story.
This is an English only service offering but they can do multi-country delivery.
We have worked with the RuralShores team to build capability for them capture transactions with similarly high accuracy and average handling time metrics for Poland including recognising Poland individual and place names. Based on this success, we are now exploring with them to take on all European, Middle East & China transactions.
Moving service to RuralShores does requires strong Transition leadership.
Strong Transition leadership, who understands the strengths and capabilities of RuralShores and works with them and the delivery teams, is instrumental in getting the right interlock. Because if the robust training model and performance expectations they have, it may take longer to mobilise and train which will need to be factored in to any planning.
You will need to ask your transition teams to work closely with RuralShores to ensure that the right work is sent to them in a structured way and that they are given enough time to reach the proficiency that they are comfortable with (they take tremendous pride in what they do and hate to fail)
Plan to visit, at least once.
It is hugely impactful for them to see the client and our leaders on the floor, especially during their recognition cycle. I also found it incredibly inspiring to see their performance and enthusiasm for the services they were providing.
This was one of the highlighted of my 2 week visit to India and if you ever get the opportunity I would say go! And if not, then definitely find an opportunity to work with them!
Heather Orton – Global Transition Lead, Accenture.