Do not disturb

Posted on October 24, 2010 by Tara Thiagarajan in Uncategorized. 4 comments

One very eye opening fact that is emerging time and again in our research is that rural microentrepreneurs access very small markets. Our first survey found that about three quarters do not buy or sell beyond a 5 km radius and only 2% venture beyond 20 km (the ‘middle men’?).

Here’s a view from Google Earth of a region of rural Tamil Nadu that is 5 km across. It has a cluster of about 12 villages with a population roughly between 4 and 5,000, typical for most of India. That’s a really small market to be limited to. Contrast this with a view of Chennai which has 100 times that in the same area.

Unfortunately in this first survey we did, Turns out even 5 kms is way out there for most and it’s an even more fragmented … Read More »

The Madura Experiment (more refined)

Posted on September 12, 2010 by Tara Thiagarajan in Blog, Writing. 2 comments

It’s been a bit of a busy month for me and I haven’t had time to post. After years now of reading, surveying, observing and thinking, we (meaning Madura) are finally putting together the pieces of our socioeconomic transformation strategy. We’re taking quite a leap from the run-of-the-mill microfinance, so we’re operating like a start-up again, which is fun. But, with profits to take some chances with, so that’s even more fun. We’re looking at a massive, for profit experiment in reengineering the socioeconomic system dynamics of our members – about half a million poor women in rural Tamil Nadu, moving rapidly to a million. This involves putting in place a large scale smart phone driven data collection system, a mobile phone rollout for our members that will support a host of applications in the future, and development of a … Read More »