Definition of Livelihood

Livelihood is defined as the means to sustain and support oneself financially and vocationally.

Who needs livelihood?

Those at the top of the pyramid who are well served with products, brands and services have access to many avenues that offer sustainability to their livelihood aspirations. But this segment comprises of only 2 billion people across the globe….the 4 billion people who are under served and lack avenues for sustainable livelihood are the ones who need attention the most.


Almost 3 billion people, and even among them the youth in particular need avenues for managing their livelihoods successfully and gainfully.

These are the under served class and comprise of populations in rural regions.

The above holds true in India as well…..

But what are these avenues?

While government jobs are much sought after, they are few and far between, especially in the rural areas where the target segment resides. The best avenue for sustainable livelihood in these regions possibly are

1. Agriculture

a. Cash crops

b. Floriculture

c. Poultry/Piggery/Cattle rearing

d. Water resources management

2. Retail

a. Telecom products and services


3. Distribution

a. DTH services

b. ISP

4. Financial services

a. Micro credit

5. Construction and infrastructure development

a. Housing

b. Roads

Given the limitation in availability of power in rural India, manufacturing even in a small scale looks impossible, however it can be added to the list above if the power infrastructure improves with time, which in fact will add to the avenues available.

Off course EDUCATION and SKILLS become important factors when deciding whether these avenues will indeed provide the livelihoods to their intended target groups…if there is lack of the necessary education and the skills required to manage a successful business/enterprise, then the avenues would be available on paper only and no positive outcome can be expected.

Stakeholders (Government at Central and state level) have to understand the educational and skill requirements of the large target segment and based on a clearly understood framework decide on the right curriculum (vocational centric or theory centric?) that meets the requirement in full.

If done right the following issues can be addressed

· Employability of the rural work force

· Alignment of education to the needs of the local markets

· Educated and skilled workforce pool can be created to exploit the avenues available

· Technology can be understood and then used by the skilled and educated workforce to create an enabling business centric environment in their communities

YES an appropriate BUSINESS MODEL that is SCALABLE and can be DUPLICATED across rural India needs to be developed , but that is easier said than done because growth across India is not seen at the same rate- regional differences are a major challenge mainly because different states follow their own programmes based on their own individual understanding of their regions and these programs will differ from those of other states.

Therefore a COMMON SCALABLE BUSINESS MODEL may not be a reality soon, but will require tremendous powers of persuasion and consensus building among different state bodies and governments to build one common model that can be deployed across the country.


The following are identified as the enablers of the above theme

  1. Education
  2. Employability
  3. Innovation and;
  4. Entrepreneurship

While the relationship between education and employability has been addressed in the last section, we need to understand that there exists a close relationship between innovation and entrepreneurship as well.

BUSINESS FOR LIVELIHOOD- a case for “co-operative” business models

Perhaps one needs to look at the following types of “co-operatives” that can be deployed successfully in cash starved rural economies for sustainable livelihood avenues

1. Credit Cooperative – promotes thrift and savings among its members and creates funds in order to grant loans for productive and provident purposes. FINANCIAL SERVICES
2. Consumer Cooperative – the primary purpose is to procure and distribute commodities to members and non-members. DISTRIBUTION BUSINESS
3. Producers Cooperative – undertakes joint productions whether agricultural or industrial. AGRICULTURE COMMODITIES
4. Marketing Cooperative – engages in the supply of production inputs to members, and markets their products. SALES,MARKETING AND DISTRIBUTION SERVICES
5. Service Cooperative – engages in medical and dental care, hospitalization, transportation, insurance, housing, labor, electric light and power, communication and other services. INFRASTRUCTURE
6. Multi-Purpose Cooperative – combines two (2) or more of the business activities of these different types of cooperatives.



clip_image005clip_image006clip_image007clip_image008clip_image009clip_image010clip_image011Rural INNOVATION ECO-SYSTEM

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