Rural BPO at Mahavilachchiya received wide publicity yesterday, with several local newspapers prominently highlighting the to-be-success story like Sunday Times did below in a first page half page article, and a finance editorial.
BPO in the Anuradhapura backwoods
IT rumble in the jungle
What puzzles us is why some of these articles (Not the Sunday Times story) referred to the venture as a ‘corporate responsibility’ (an euphemism for ‘charity’) of John Keels Holdings (JKH), a top business conglomerate in Sri Lanka.
When Indian Tobacco Company (ITC) launched e-Choupal chain in India, nobody branded it ‘corporate responsibility’. It was an online window for its rural suppliers of first tobacco and later other agricultural/aquaculture produce like soya, coffee, and prawns, to interact directly with the company. It was part of ITC business and definitely not charity. That was why e-Choupal could survive and expand within a short period of time to over a thousand of centres, while most of the other tele-centre chains died down when the donor money was over.
The future of not just the MV project, but perhaps the whole ‘bottom of pyramid’ as well depends on the attitude the business takes. If this is just a promotional activity of a business firm, funded by its marketing budget, it might not lead anywhere. It is essential that corporate sector treats such ventures as a part of their core business rather than charity or mere image promoting activities.