The village entrepreneur and hero
Standing between dozens of charging cell phones and the open air of his shop window, Ranjeet Kumar may not look like a hero. But to his family and the people of his village, he is. "I always thought that to be successful, I’d have to leave my village to secure a good job. But thanks to Microsoft and my training, I don’t have to do that. I can make money here. And I can do it with confidence because I have my new skills."
The eldest of seven children, Ranjeet lives with his family in the remote flood- and famine-prone village of Rampur Mainat, in the Muzaffarpur District of Northern Bihar in India. Dirt roads lead to the dirt floors of thatched huts, normal living conditions for so many here. And like others in Bihar, where half of people in the state live below the poverty line, Ranjeet’s family has struggled to eke out a living.
Despite the challenges, people in this area look to Ranjeet as a testament of perseverance, entrepreneurial spirit, and family ties. “I’m responsible for taking care of my family,” he says. “Whatever needs to be done, I will do it.” Out his shop window is an expanse of flood plains and farmland, with villagers stooped over to inspect budding gourds, cucumbers, and other crops.
“My father is a farmer, but he knows the value of an education,” says Ranjeet. “He’s always said, ‘We will find the money for your studies.’ So I studied and worked alongside my father. We saved and saved for my courses.” Ranjeet’s family worked hard to support his studies, but even with their combined effort, their monthly income amounted to only 3,000 to 4,000 INR (US$45 to US$60). Most technical college courses were too expensive to pay for without neglecting food and other necessities for the family. Yet Ranjeet remained determined to gain access to higher education.