3i Infotech, a global information technology company, has announced the launch of I-SERV, a brand for its retail services to consumers in remote rural areas in India. These services are geared to empower people in these remote areas to carry out various activities and, improve their quality of life thereby closing the gap between the rich and poorer communities and to bridge the urban / rural divide. It is worth noting that supporting this public good can help to build market access to an untapped rural market in India worth an estimated $100 billion.

Rural India represents 70% of the population. The idea is to open 12,500 stores in several Indian States providing the technical infrastructure and manpower support to deliver banking, insurance, mobile, education, ticketing and utilities. There will be one store for every three to six villages covering between 300 and 3,000 people. Set up will cost roughly $1,250 to $2,500. Considering that 60% of rural Indians are unbanked and, under 5% have any form of insurance, potential is huge. About 50% of the outlets will be operated 24/7 by local entrepreneurs on a franchise model.

This iniatitive will empower local people and provide market access to a range of companies and brands. Take this a step further and it is easy to see how distribution and logistics companies will be given the information that can enable them to improve coverage and service into remote areas. This is an excellent example of how innovation in one direction can trigger a transformation in logistics and quality of life. Any other examples?