Kajal, the first woman CSC entrepreneur in Jhansi, was inspired and supported by an established udyaME Kiosk entrepreneur, Sappu Pandey, from a neighbouring village. Sappu shared his CSC user ID with her to let her start her own enterprise. This helped her understand the business better. She now has her own udyaME Kiosk and also has an apprentice, Rakhi, who too has her own udyaME Kiosk.
Their opportunities have increased, thanks to udyaME, a one-of-a-kind digital platform that caters to the needs and aspirations of micro-entrepreneurs (see box). Thus, for those apprentices who decide to open their own udyaME Kiosk business, their employers can let them use their CSC user ID to render services from their establishment as informal micro-franchises till the apprentices get their own IDs activated.
This is beneficial for both CSC entrepreneurs and apprentices as both are able to expand their businesses. There is, however, an additional risk for the CSC as it is responsible for activities that take place under its user ID. The micro-franchises model, therefore, requires a high level of trust between the two before they set up such a revenue-sharing partnership.
Sanjay, a recent graduate from Mirzapur district of Uttar Pradesh, was still availing training from an Industrial Training Institute in electrical engineering when he started to spend a few hours each day at a nearby CSC. He was drawn to technology right from his childhood and was well-versed in using computers. When he came to know about the udyaME business model, he liked it and opened his own udyaME Kiosk using the credentials of his former employer, paying him a small commission fee, while he was awaiting his own ID to be activated. Today, Sanjay has his own CSC ID and thanks to his services, people in his village have better access to key government services.
Before opening their enterprises, many new entrepreneurs started as apprentices and franchisee operators. Apprenticeship and micro-franchises have helped expand the reach and acceptance of the udyaME Kiosk not only as a mode of e-governance but also as a job opportunity for the youth and women in Eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bundelkhand. Given the lack of clarity in the terms and conditions,1 many CSCs see opportunities in sharing their registered IDs with the people they trust.
Going forward, policies can be further fine-tuned after studying how people innovate and use such schemes. Digital India, thus, can help people not only build capacities but explore larger possibilities as well.
1CSC E-Governance Services India Limited. 2022. Digital Seva Terms and Conditions. Last accessed on 20 May, 2022 at https://digitalseva.csc.gov.in/web/legal