Bangalore, Aug. 31: Hes lost a limb to bone cancer, grows export-quality anthuriums and runs a mini hydro-electric power station. Now, Narayana Bhide has pulled off in his native village what has probably never been seen in Karnataka before.
The 43-year-old law graduate with a prosthetic leg, who drives around in a Bolero, has set up in south Karnatakas Mundaje village a BPO, which is generally seen as the exclusive preserve of metros and big cities.
This is my village and Ive nowhere else to go, Bhide told The Telegraph, explaining why he had zeroed in on Mundaje, some 300km from Bangalore, as he toyed with plans to tap the burgeoning BPO market.
Bhide was aware that setting up a BPO in a village was fraught with risk. But for the man who trumped cancer after being struck by the disease 15 years ago while working in Mumbai, there was no looking back.
Powered by his determination and the Rs 10 lakh he had in hand, Bhide started chips.ework in July 2011 in the village few thought would be suitable for a tech-sector enterprise.
Certainly, this is not some village youd find in Jharkhand (in terms of basic amenities). But we have a massive task at hand to make it profitable and self-sustaining, Bhide, who chose not to marry after his leg was amputated and lives alone in his village, said.
He wouldnt reveal much about the work being done at his fledgling BPO, citing a non-disclosure agreement all outsourcing units are bound by. But he said there were 25 computers manned entirely by youngsters from his village who worked from 9am to 5pm filling in application forms for a US-based client.
Its a tough grind, he said.
Having paid the first months salaries from his pocket, Bhide is now waiting to see how things pan out financially. Its not that I have suddenly come up with a new success formula by taking BPOs out of the city and straight into a village. But it would be good for all stakeholders, including the employees and the village itself, if this works, he said.
According to a recent survey, the top 20 BPOs in the country have posted revenues of Rs 32,246 crore in 2010-11, maintaining the 13 per cent revenue growth as in the previous year. But Bhide is not competing yet; he is simply hoping to cash in on some basic assignments to break even.
Its not that we are trying to compete with the biggies. In fact, we are currently doing only some filling of applications for a US-based client, he said.
The BPO is, however, equipped to handle jobs like conversion of PDF and JPEG files to other formats as well as translation work. His aim is to move into the profitable field of medical transcripts, which would raise revenues and spawn a self-sustaining model.
Bhide started the business with help from cousin Ullas Bhide, a human resources professional in Bangalore. The BPO operates out of the home of his brother, Colonel Nitin Bhide, who is posted in Ladakh but is not directly involved with the venture. One of its directors is Gazanana Vaze.