The story of a small village heading to a bright future!
A couple of weeks ago, I spent a day in Bhageshpura, a village in Hassan District which has given us one of our most promising 1Bridge Advisors – Shashi Kumar! Shashi has been a part of the 1Bridge family for a little over two years and, and in May – he achieved a milestone of tripling his income!
He is 24 years old, comes from a family of farmers in Bhageshpura, a gram panchayat village – around 30 kms from Hassan Town, with a population of around 10,000 (~2000 households). He grew up learning farming and attending school, and performed reasonably well in both. After completing his 12thGrade (PUC), Shashi did not have the resources to enroll himself in a college. He was also uncertain about his career options – farming was not an option due to fragmented land holdings & water scarcity. He wrote several Government exams for jobs, but his economic situation did not give him the luxury of spending time or money on this. An early marriage caused a dent in his saving as well, which led to further economic pressures – he needed a source of income desperately.
When we started the on-boarding process in Hassan, Shashi came in for the interview and was selected for the training. We were impressed with his initiative and the trust he had garnered in his village. He took quickly to our 1Bridge Task App to provide assisted commerce solutions to consumers in his village – including running awareness campaigns, sales origination and door-step delivery. Over the years we have partnered with multiple e-commerce platforms like Amazon & Myntra to create income generating opportunities for our 1BAs. Shashi has always been an active promoter and has grabbed every opportunity given to him! In fact, he recently started off working with our Hassan Delivery Center to effect rural last-mile deliveries and he has seen a huge jump in his total monthly earnings – upwards of Rs.12,000 per month while staying in his village!
His wife now studies Arts at a university in Hassan and Shashi sponsors her education, while supporting himself and his mother. While last mile deliveries occupy a major chunk of his morning, Shashi spend time with consumers in his village helping them with online shopping, mobile recharges and dispensing cash. He spends some time in the afternoon to work in his fields and manages to take tuition for the school kids. We met some of his students, who dote on Shashi sir for his patience with teaching mathematics. He is also a member of the youth community of his village, a non-political forum to unite the youth and help each other with resources.
I sat down with a group of young men in the school veranda. I discussed their aims and aspirations. Most of the men and women have completed their education till PU, yet have limited opportunities and dwindling incomes in the agriculture field. The key income for Bhageshpura’s inhabitants has been farming – largely coconut, pepper, potatoes and ragi. This however has changed in the recent years, mainly due to the shortage of water and electricity supply. Now, the villagers mostly grow only potatoes and coconuts. Even though agriculture is still the main occupancy of Bhagespura, the educated youth are looking for more opportunities to supplement this income.
The natives of Bhageshpura share more than just their birth land; they share produce and share their destinies. They are brought up in community where family extends to every person in the village. Locks on doors isn’t a familiar concept here, women enter their neighbor’s house for masala without hesitation. Men just bring out furniture or hitch a ride with a fellow villager without seeking permission. It is just how it is – there’s trust and interdependency among the people. Our 1BA would ask just about anyone for a chair or a cup of tea for us, and they would oblige with utmost enthusiasm. I’d like to acknowledge this as a symbol of the deep sense of belonging & community that the rural folks have for their village
It gives me immense satisfaction that our program is engaging youth like Shashi – folks who are changing the lives of people around them. Shashi has made a huge impact by taking up an entrepreneurial role which enables communication of his world to the outside, while providing access, choice & convenience to his community. He has the drive to change his life by doing whatever it takes and doing it well. Moreover, in this process, he takes his people along with him to a better future!