Digital India

How startups are helping rural India go digital?

The digital revolution in rural India was underway for a long time, but only after demonetization, did technology pace up. Over $11.8 billion has been raised by startups in the first quarter of 2022, 186% higher than Q1 of 2021. With an improved lifestyle and overall development, people in rural areas can access benefits like the internet, financial dependence, and so on. Rural India has accelerated the pace of internet adoption and is moving towards digitization with this change – passionate entrepreneurs and startups have started investing in remote areas of India. The new startup ecosystem has found its way on the bumpy roads of remote villages. The growth rate has become more than three times faster than in urban India, and digital adoption has clocked a 13 percent growth in Internet users in the past year, according to a report released by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and consulting firm Kantar. 

A startup should understand that before entering into the rural market they have to make people literate in terms of technology, then only the rural population will have trust using the new tech such as smartphones which was never available to them before. Take an example of UPI transactions – it makes transactions very easy, one does not have to go all the way to their respective banks to get the job done in any kind of payment. Everything is available with one touch but to use this kind of payment transaction application one has to have good knowledge about it before using it. With rural accessibility, shopping hassle is depleted with rural startups providing doorstep delivery to the people, this not only improves delivery of products but also gives employment opportunities. These Startups through their smartphones have photographs of their products with country like India having 60% of the population residing there. This bridges the gap between rural and urban India in terms of poverty, infrastructure, health care, and economy. Development in rural India means a development in the country – it will boost the Indian economy if the startups become successful in developing the remote parts of  online customers and close transactions using digital payments that will build a sustainable ecosystem. 

One more way to make people tech-savvy is through spreading knowledge- if someone has a rural startup, maybe a departmental store, they will know how to use a smartphone and to do this they might teach the same technique to their friends – this becomes a good tool to understand the changing technology. Being in an Urban setup it was still easy to adapt to this change fast – but what about the people in villages, the education system saw a change where students had to take their classes online. To help their children attend their online classes, parents had to somehow understand the basics to operate a computer. This gave a lot of parents a reason to connect and understand the world of digitization – hence making them a little more upgraded and making them tech-savvy. A lot of startups understand the necessity of education and started giving online courses to people. This gave the rural population an edge and now they can learn any sort of a language or course from teachers all over the world. Previously people had to travel several kilometres for basic household necessities. It is not only time-consuming but involves extra expenses of travelling back and forth.

When Covid was at its peak, many healthcare workers across the country were unable to treat patients in the rural region. However, since the startup ecosystem has evolved in India there are a handful of startups that are using various innovative techniques to help rural India fight Covid. As India moves towards digitalization, there has been a significant change of shift to the virtual setup becoming almost necessary.


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