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Rural Relations: A Socially-Driven Organization

CASE STUDY, ENTREPRENEURSHIP & STARTUPS
ET Cases, 9 pages
AUTHOR(S) : Prof. Madhavi Lokhande (Associate Professor, Welingkar Institute of Management, Bangalore) and Prof. Shekar Prabhakar (Associate Professor, Welingkar Institute of Management, Bangalore)

Case Preview

Rural Relations: A Socially-Driven Organization

 

It was late in the evening on Friday and Pradeep was in a pensive mood, looking out of his office window. He was nostalgic remembering his maiden efforts that he had put-in to collate information about the villages, the farmers, markets and the residents. What began as a simple initiative 25 years ago of sending a postcard to the opinion leaders in the villages to elicit basic information about the respective village, had today grown into a huge business opportunity. In his vision, building a comprehensive and constantly refreshed base of information about rural India could be leveraged both for business and social development, a goal close to his heart. Running an organization sustainably with a positive social impact excited him and he had been successful thus far. The challenge for him was to monetize this business of – ‘doing good’. What kind of a business and revenue model would work for the organization as well as help Rural Relations to become a force to reckon with in rural development. Pradeep pondered “Can the model adopted for Maharashtra, be adopted in other regions as well?” Pradeep had envisioned Rural Relations two decades ago – when very few people envisaged Rural India as a ‘market’. Today, every marketer has his focus on Rural India, which changed the rules of the game for him. Pradeep wondered, “How do I scale up, and add more strategic units to my business, and yet not lose the flavor of what I had pioneered to do?”..................

Pradeep Lokhande – The Person

Born and educated in Wai, a town in Satara District in Maharashtra, India, Pradeep hailed from a family of modest means. Pradeep barely managed to scrape through all his examinations consistently with bare minimum marks till he graduated.

After graduation, Pradeep moved to Pune to stay with his uncle in a joint family. His uncle managed a cafeteria, where he first started working............

Rural Relations – The Company

Rural Relations is India’s largest relationship-based communication organization with a very simple philosophy: touch, feel, learn and reach out to rural India. It is an organization that takes pride not only for possessing extensive information on villages but due to remarkable relationships with the rural opinion leaders – hence the name Rural Relations. Rural Relations has a formidable presence across 10 states: Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu...............

Challenges

Rural Relations believes that as an organization it functions differently as not only have they delivered time and again to leading corporates, but at the same time been a socially-driven organization. They aim at revolutionizing rural India and bring sustainable development to the villagers. What they pride themselves about today is their ability to interconnect both business and community profitably, managing both bottom lines sincerely and professionally..............

Assignment Questions

I. Will the present business model of Rural Relations be able to scale its business? Why or why not?

II. How can Pradeep measure the social impact of his initiatives in monetary terms? How would you approach calculating SROI for Rural Relations and what additional information would you need?

III. .........................

Exhibits

Exhibit I: Questionnaire Postcards Page 1

Exhibit II: Questionnaire Postcards Page 2

Exhibit III: A Sample of Developing Activities used by Village Developer Teams

Exhibit IV: Gyan Key an Initiative by Rural Relations

Exhibit V: Non-Resident Villager – NRV

Teaching Note Preview

Rural Relations: A Socially-Driven Organization

 

Synopsis

“India lives in its villages” – Mahatma Gandhi

About 65%–70% of the country’s population lives in rural areas. Pradeep was influenced early in his life by his own experiences and Gandhiji’s philosophy that India lives in its villages. Pradeep Lokhande, from Wai village in Satara District, Maharashtra, decided to dream big and reach out to the villagers to help them realize their dreams.

Rural Relations is a case study on social entrepreneurship with the twin objectives of creating social impact and being sustainable by being profitable. Pradeep demonstrates the importance of innovating along the way in the face of challenges in setting up field operations in rural India. Pradeep undertook a journey of his organization covering 40,000 villages of which he personally visited 4000. He tried to understand rural India’s administrative methodologies, markets and the bazaar-haat systems and the education system. In his journey, he established direct contact with opinion makers in villages and started recording details of the local economy. And in 1996, he got his first customers, Tata Tea and Parle, to delve into the data that he had collected. Since then there has been no turning back.

He also initiated the library movement, called Gyan-key, which aims to make a library in every rural secondary (middle) school a reality. It is a library of the students, for the students and by the students. To instill a sense of ownership, students are also encouraged to donate books, (regardless of their value) for ‘their’ library on their birthday, creating a feeling of belonging. The case study is poised at the stage where Pradeep opines that his goal is to reach all feeder villages of India in the next five years.

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • • Appreciate an entrepreneur’s determined journey towards achieving success
  • • Understand the critical outcomes for strategy execution in a ProSocial business
  • • Analyze how businesses can be socially relevant as well as being a tough competitor in the market and make profits
  • • Understand the concept of SROI and the possible methods that can be employed to calculate the value of the social impact of such businesses

 

Case Positioning and Setting

  • • This case study can be used in an ‘Entrepreneurship’ course where students appreciate the difficult journey the entrepreneur traverses before he achieves success. The difficulties of initiating ‘ProSocial’ businesses can also be emphasized at this stage.
  • • This case study can be used to illustrate the concept and significance of ROI in an entrepreneurial venture, and the constraints that go into evaluating the value of social businesses.
  • • This case study can also be used as a teaching aid for ‘Rural Marketing’, where student understands and appreciates aspects about tapping rural markets in developing countries and the challenges of competing in such markets.

 

Prerequisite Conceptual Understanding

  • • Students/Participants will be asked to have a pre-reading on ProSocial businesses – relevance and existence in rural landscape

 

Assignment Questions

  • I. Will the present business model of Rural Relations be able to scale its business? Why or why not?
  • II. How can Pradeep measure the social impact of his initiatives in monetary terms? How would you approach calculating SROI for Rural Relations and what additional information would you need?
  • III. Is the organization structure at Rural Relations adequate to drive growth?
  • IV. .....................

 

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Abstract


Rural Relations is a case study on Social Entrepreneurship with the twin objectives of creating social impact and being sustainable by being profitable. Pradeep Lokhande (Pradeep) demonstrates the importance of innovating along the way in the face of challenges in setting up field operations in rural India. Pradeep undertook a journey for his organization covering 40,000 villages of which he personally visited 4000. He tried to understand rural India's administrative methodologies, markets and the bazaar-haat systems and the education system. In his journey, he established direct contact with opinion makers in villages and started recording details of the local economy. In 1996, he acquired his first customers, Tata Tea and Parle, to delve into the data that he had collected. Since then there has been no turning back.

Pradeep also initiated the library movement, called Gyan-Key, which aimed to make a library in every rural secondary (middle) school a reality. Gyan-Key is a library of the students, for the students and by the students. The case study is poised at the stage where Pradeep opines that his goal is to reach all feeder villages of India in the next five years. However, the challenge now lay in how to scale in terms of both reach and impact. Would the present model continue to be a good business model? Would the years to come witness the scaling of business? In order to scale up should Pradeep aim at greater geographical reach or include more initiatives that would strengthen the organizations position as a 'Socially Driven Organization' Does Rural Relations have the organizational depth in terms of process and leadership to charge forward?


Pedagogical Objectives

  • To appreciate the hard road that an entrepreneur traverses before he realizes his dream
  • To understand the critical outcomes for strategy execution in a ProSocial business
  • To analyze how businesses can be socially relevant while at the same time compete in the market place and make profits
  • To understand the concept of SROI and the possible methods that can be employed to calculate the value of the social impact of such businesses

Case Positioning and Setting

  • This case study can be used in an 'Entrepreneurship' course where students appreciate the difficult journey the entrepreneur traverses before achieving success. The difficulties of initiating 'ProSocial' businesses can also be emphasized at this stage.
  • This case study can be used to illustrate the Concept and Significance of ROI in an Entrepreneurial Venture and the constraints that go into evaluating the Value of Social Businesses.
  • This case study can also be used as a teaching aid for 'Rural Marketing' where student understands and appreciates aspects about tapping rural markets in developing countries and the challenges of competing in rural markets.



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- Teaching Note (**ONLY for Academicians)


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