“The rural poor are the best entrepreneurs – across diverse geographies”

SWASTI PACHAURI                                        

PMRD Fellowship has been the most satisfying professional and personal journeys, thus far because not only has this Fellowship offered me the platform to apply management & social research to community contexts, but has also encouraged me unleash my creative potential in the context of rural development.

My corporate/management consulting experience revolved around strategy, impact assessment projects, and different global discourses on development. An amalgamation of all these convinced me that in addition to process improvements required for effective program delivery, a focused community demand driven approach was imperative for successful translation of developmental goals. PMRDF appealed to me primarily because I wanted to implement these very managerial and social research applications with communities in focus. Additionally, I wanted to travel the unexplored territories of India, and consequently contribute in my own capacity.

At the onset, therefore as a PMRDF, in addition to my work with various stakeholders & beneficiaries at the grassroots, I have been working in the rural marketing space.

Till date, my work has included conceptualization of a product catalogue titled ‘Indigenous Talents’- for urban consumers. The central idea was to reveal the ‘invisible hand’ behind the aesthetics and crafts that the rural households of hinterlands make.

Towards this I have undertaken several initiatives on product promotions strategies for handicrafts, forest herbs procured and developed by  SHG women and artisans. Additionally, I am working on diverse projects such as understanding the Mahua economy, convergence with CSR, and livelihood diversification plans for villagers.

My work for SHGs at the moment, supported through DPIP/SGSY/SRLM includes the development of an e commerce driven portal for the Government of Madhya Pradesh which would provide a one stop shop for tourists, online shoppers and customers thereby taking Madhya Pradesh arts and crafts to the global map of art and craft. 

Individually speaking, as a PMRDF I have had several moments of personal realizations and reflections. At the inception of this esteemed Fellowship Program, I felt that it marked a watershed in one of the most significant areas of human capital enrichment. The field and ground experience offered by this fellowship serve to hone the demographic dividend which India boasts of today, while also addressing developmental constraints in micro & macro-economic contexts. The multi stakeholder approaches and perceptions one unravels while also understanding implementation related challenges through an administrative and a grassroots lens are the defining attributes of this program.

Most importantly, however, I feel that PMRDF has provided me with greater depths of humility, patience and other daily life skills thereby adding hues of depth to my personality.  I would recommend PMRDF as a life changing experience to every young professional looking forward to making a difference!


Swasti Pachauri is based at Seoni in Madhya Pradesh. She is a gold medalist in Economics at graduate level from Hindu College (University of Delhi) and a post graduate in Development Studies from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. Swasti worked for five years in social sector consulting before joining the PMRD Fellowship


4 thoughts on ““The rural poor are the best entrepreneurs – across diverse geographies”

  1. I am working with National AIDS Control Organisation on specific issues related to migration and increasing HIV risk in your district. How you think this can be addressed. The gram sabhas, VHND meetings, Zilla parishad meetings can take up these issues.Migration is surely related to poverty, lack of livelihood opportunities. Do let me know, how we can work together.We have a office at Bhopal as well. Thanks and best wishes for your hard work there.
    Dr. Subash Chandra Ghosh

  2. Iam really glad with the work you guys are taken up. Hopefully i’ll also join you guys, by the next batch
    I have a suggestion on Mahua Economy which you wrote. Since they are commercial crops people might not get interest on this task. Of course it also depends on how we strike its future aspects into their minds. So, why we cant try new crops which gives more output than the regular food crops, with the collaboration of ICRISAT and other crop research institutions. It may lay the seeds of hope in their minds for growth in future.
    And one more thing i would like to suggest you that..
    people nearer to coast or at banks of rivers chooses a business in fishing n its related; who are nearer to farm lands obviously choose agricultural farming; in hill areas people go for animal farms…what iam trying to say is Geography plays a key role in making the decisions on their future aspects. We shall have to focus on growth aspects in respective fields according to their geography.
    And I have one thing to ask you, dint you faced agony anger or any sort of divertation from the local leaders or heads of communities. Please kindly share

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