A few years ago, a job portal for rural India would have been unthinkable. Internet penetration was extremely low – even today, there are only 12.8 million Internet subscribers among the country’s 1.2 billion people, according to the Internet Service Providers Association of India. What’s more, a study by market research firm IMRB International found that there were 45.3 million active Internet users as of September 2008, of which 42 million were urban. Even given a growth rate of 30%, the rural numbers wouldn’t look very exciting today.
Yet several rural job portals have been launched over recent years. At the forefront was ruralnaukri.com, which began in 2001 by advertising job opportunities at corporate and non-governmental organizations in rural areas (see “Ruralnaukri.com’s Ajay Gupta: ‘Rural Jobs Can Provide Momentum to the Wheel of the Economy”). Its founder and CEO, Ajay Gupta, more recently went on to launch villagenaukri.com for village youth looking for jobs in urban areas.
These sites are now facing growing competition from established companies such as ITC, the tobacco and fast-moving consumer goods giant. ITC has partnered with global online employment firm Monster to set up rozgarduniya.com (roughly translated from Hindi as “employment world”). “I believe this market will grow explosively in a couple of years,” says S. Sivakumar, chief executive of ITC’s agribusiness division, which is spearheading the rozgarduniya initiative. Sanjay Modi, managing director of Monster in India, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, adds: “Rozgarduniya will act as a catalyst and play an instrumental role in the government’s vision of inclusive growth in India.”
Another competitor is Srei Sahaj e-Village, a subsidiary of Srei Infrastructure Finance, which recently launched chaakri.in. (Chaakri means “job” or “livelihood.”) “We believe in the potential of rural India. Its hour has arrived,” the portal’s CEO, Sabahat Azim, says.