BPO turns tribals’ fortunes amid pandemic

Technotask Business Solutions came to the rescue of local residents, Adivasi youths and aspiring women in Rajnandgaon district of Chhattisgarh by offering them full-time and part-time employment during the difficult pandemic period. A report by Deepanwita Gita Niyogi

Suraj Kumar Mandavi’s stint at a business process outsourcing company has made him confident, but before he landed in the job, Mandavi, a tribal youth from Mohla-Manpur in Chhattisgarh, was afraid of interacting with people. Mohla-Manpur, a somewhat backward tribal area in terms of educational opportunities according to Mandavi’s own admission, may soon become a new district of the state after being part of Rajnandgaon.

A job boom is attracting youths like Mandavi and his friend Narottam Sahu, also from the same place. The latter came to know about the opening through his village-level Whatsapp group and qualified after appearing in an interview through video conferencing. Technotask Business Solutions, which has offices in Bhopal, Mysuru and Lucknow has turned around the fortunes of Tedesara village in Rajnandgaon district of Chhattisgarh. With no prior job experience just like Sahu, Mandavi who is a B.com graduate now earns Rs 8,000 per month with an incentive of Rs 2,000, for a decent 10 am to 7 pm shift.

The company appeared on the scene last year in March during the lockdown and went live in August. After the initial success, a second window shift post 7 pm is now being considered. “Ours is an e-commerce process which involves customer service and handling,” said Sai Kiran Patnaik, who takes care of training and quality of the employees.

A nudge from the administration

Thanks to the active support of the Rajnandgaon district administration which wanted to boost local employment opportunities, the company started with just 28 employees and reached the 300 mark within three months. At present, it takes care of 800 employees through 80 supervisors. During the pandemic period, 50 percent of the employees worked from home.

Though the selectors admitted of a little bit of compromise in the skills set of employees keeping in mind the specific region, they are happy with the overall performance of youths like Sahu and Mandavi.

Apart from these two, there are three other tribal youths working here from Mohla-Manpur, said operational manager Vikas Pandey. “We had interviewed 160 and 35 got selected. Many also left midway, but we are now hiring again. There are 150 part-time employees who work till 3pm and draw a salary of Rs 5,000. Many people want part-time jobs, especially a few women who have to look after their children.”

Technotask, which functions from a government building named Aarohan BPO, offers inbound calls and email support to customers. During the height of Covid-19, its employees also updated the health department about positive cases through a special helpline number. Currently, a lot of calls are related to the second dose of vaccination.

Boom in trade, accommodation

Both Patnaik and Pandey admitted the initial difficulty of motivating and grooming the youths who had no idea about how a BPO centre runs. In the beginning, 20 people were trained intensively and after that things picked up. The scenario in Tedesara has changed for the better.

“Now, 200 people working here are from Tedesara village and a lot of outsiders are living here on rent. People’s financial status has improved thanks to more than one member of a family engaged in a job at our company. Other trades have developed because of the BPO like small shops selling items outside or local auto drivers doing brisk business,” Pandey added.

The general perception of people is that Chhattisgarh is a tribal state, but many employees who initially joined the company have been promoted at senior levels like Raksha Baghel who joined in September last year and is now a quality auditor. Her job is to listen to calls and give feedback.

Currently, hiring is on as 250 more people are needed to run the show. The most satisfied employees are some women from Rajnandgaon who work here as part-timers. Tikeshwari Shukla, Dineshwari Sahu and Kavita Nirmalkar came to know about the BPO centre through women self-help groups in Tedesara and promptly appeared in interview calls.

The BPO also fulfils the need of married women like Bhubaneshwari Vishwakarma who has to look after three children but did not want to completely sit at home as she has a previous job experience.

As Tedesara is fast attracting outsiders, two Adivasi girls from Mohla-Manpur, Lochni Usare and Reena Ramteke, are enjoying their time away from home here by working and living as independent women. Usare, who holds a post-graduate degree in Arts and knows English, came to know about this unique opportunity through the gram panchayat. She was interviewed in Manpur and got selected for voice support. Now, she visits her family on her off day and has settled down near the office. Ramteke studied veterinary science and the degree came to her rescue. Many customers post photos of animals and giving them correct information is part of her job.