A part of the government’s Digital India programme, the number of Common Service Centres (CSC) has increased from around 83K in 2014 to 3.6 Lakh now across India and act as access points for delivery of various services.
With the growth in the network, the government has asked village level entrepreneurs (VLEs) to aim for a turnover of $43.58 Bn (INR 3 Lakh Cr) in the next five years, from around $10.16 Bn (INR 70K Cr) annually.
Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Electronics and Information Technology, said the government intends to promote self-help groups, and added that CSC could act as a catalyst for such a movement.
Prasad said the target set is “achievable” given the network and service delivery track record of CSCs. CSCs provide a platform for essential government and public utility services, as well as deliver a range of social welfare schemes, financial services, education and skill development courses, healthcare, agriculture services and digital literacy training.
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In an attempt to support women-village level entrepreneurs, the government will honour the best women VLEs who can be an example to the rest of the CSCs. Prasad said they would be awarded a cash prize of INR 10,000 each and also a chance to travel to the Silicon Valley (California) so that they can learn how startups work there.
In addition, the CSC Academy has partnered with Facebook to jointly design and develop a digital curriculum, and provide digital training to 2.5 lakh rural entrepreneurs in over 3,000 villages.
Under this, Facebook and CSC will provide training to 5,000 women Village Level Entrepreneurs in ten States — Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Telangana, Bihar, Kerala, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
CSC has also partnered with Facebook to train 2.5 lakh women entrepreneurs in digital marketing across the country. Facebook in association with 5,000 women CSC owners will help women in rural areas to leverage from various marketing tools on Facebook to increase their earnings.
CSCs have also tied up with HDFC for providing credit card to such small and medium entrepreneurs, to expand their businesses in rural India.
During the interim budget 2019, then finance minister Piyush Goyal had said, “The Common Service Centres are expanding their services and also creating digital infrastructure in the villages, including connectivity, to convert the villages into Digital Villages. More than 3 Lakh Common Service Centres (CSCs) employing about 12 Lakh people, are digitally delivering several services to the citizens.”