The path to empowering and profiting off India’s next wave of online users
By Denis Bedoya
The Omidyar Network’s latest report offers entrepreneurs valuable tips on how to access India’s next gigantic wave of online users.
Profit can be an ugly world, and especially so when used in conjunction with alleviating the miseries of the underprivileged, of which India has many.
Yet, the sad truth is that even after 70 years of independence, the country has failed comprehensively in lifting the bulk of its people out of poverty and providing them with basic amenities such as decent education, health care and financial inclusiveness.
That said, profit-seeking solutions for this have also failed spectacularly. It was not so long ago that a wave of microfinance agencies that flooded India sought to do exactly this, but ended up imploding due to hare-brained business models that pushed every rural Indian to take on loans in order to transform themselves into mini-entrepreneurs overnight.
India is now poised at a critical juncture in its history as the vast bulk of its hinterland begins to access the internet via mobile and smartphones — 500 million or so in the next decade. Data costs have plummeted, and the majority of its 1.2 billion population are now enrolled under Aadhaar, a national program that issues a unique number to every citizen linked to biometric information — Orwellian in its proposition to its critics, but hugely important in delivering basic government services according to its supporters.