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BOUs Thrive In The Age Of BPOs And IPOs

August 2007
BOUs Thrive In The Age Of BPOs And IPOs

While BPOs and IPOs, along with other well-known acronyms like MNCs and NRIs, are all the rage in the IT world, what's refreshing about BOU—a newer business label which may not be as buzz-worthy—is that it's solely about India's humblest entrepreneurs. It stands for Business Organizing Unit—an example being Project Sukanya, founded in 2005 by Aparna Banerjee of Kolkata. It's an empowerment group for women in the lower rungs of Indian society. With the help of Project Sukanya, they can become independent businesswomen and preside over pull-carts that are filled with carefully chosen handicrafts and handloom products. Given the demand for these carts in Kolkata and elsewhere, Project Sukanya, supported by a group called Women Entrepreneurship, expects to have 5000 mobile shops across the country within two years.

Some of these strategically located pull-carts also cater to commuters, children and homemakers by offering everyday products like spices and packed lunches. The Indian government, for its part, is stepping up efforts to promote women's self-help groups. The Department for Women and Child Development became a Central Government Ministry in 2005. Besides reducing the female poverty ratio by 15 percent by 2012, it aims to lower the gender gap in literacy.

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