Rural Lives

During 2007, although the economic centres of Sri Lanka were seeing growth, there had been minimal activity in rural areas, even though talented and capable youth were in abundance in these areas. The rural BPO project is one of the major initiatives that were undertaken by the JKH Group’s CSR initiative, the John Keells Foundation. Infomate acted as the spearhead for this project, in collaboration with the John Keells Foundation, and the Foundation for Advancing Rural Opportunity (FARO): a non-profit organization that actively assists rural youth in Sri Lanka to find sustainable employment and career opportunities in the business outsourcing industry, without them having to relocate. Following this vision, E village of Mahavilachchiya was identified as a suitable location; the rural youth showed language proficiency and IT capability. The concept of outsourcing work to a rural hamlet was mooted and a pilot project with just two agents commenced. This was the beginning of Sri Lanka’s first ever rural BPO. Today, the project has been replicated in the villages of Seenigama and in Jaffna, creating job opportunities for over 40 youth. These youngsters are provided with exposure to world class ERP systems such as SAP, process training, soft skills and leadership training to enhance their skills. Many have gone on to excellent careers in leading government and private sector companies; especially female team members were able to find a good source of income without leaving their families behind. As a result a successful business model for rural BPOs has been formulated. This has the potential to address the human resources capacity challenges of the industry and unemployment at a national level.