Companies who are catering to rural market or willing enter to this segment, are looking for professionals who can measure the pulse of rural market aptly. Prof. Swati Sethi and Prof. Rachana Patil write how rural management education can be a win win situation for the companies as well as for the students

About 70 per cent population of India resides in rural areas, 90 per cent of these depend on agricultural as main source of income. With agricultural incomes out of the purview of income tax, rural India is witnessing rising disposable incomes. Due to favourable government policies there is an improvement in the socio-economic status, rising aspirations and ability to spend of rural consumers.

Government is also focusing on rural economy. Interim Budget 2019 laid extra emphasis on the farm and rural sector with enhancing the outlay by over 43 per cent year-on-year to Rs 2.89 lakh crore for 2019-20.

The rural economy contributes close to half the GDP in India. As per estimates, the rural market for FMCG goods alone will cross $100 billion by 2025. Rural households contribute to approximately 50 per cent of the GDP, 40 per cent FMCG sales, 50 per cent two-wheeler sales, 30 per cent four-wheeler, and 45 per cent telecom contribution, according to a report by Deloitte and FICCI (2018).

In this present era, all the companies are competing with each other for endurance. Large corporate houses are making their products keeping in mind the rural population of India. There is a need for marketers to train themselves about the new rural India rather than educating the rural customers. Marketing strategy for rural market would be different than the urban market.

Tapping the Indian rural markets would be considered as the most important marketing marvel for the companies to do business. It’s a demand of the economy to mould yourself to the rural culture in order to get access to the rural market and this is applicable for all kinds of sector and industry. Rural market is lucrative choice for the corporates. Along with the private sector, cooperatives, development agencies and government entities also have a huge footprint for rural growth and development. These agencies are also working closely with rural communities for wealth creation and development.

However, one of the common challenges many companies are facing and which is affecting the profitable growth of businesses in the rural areas is limited talent. To manage this huge untapped market, companies are looking for professionals who can measure the pulse of rural market aptly.


Rural Management Education in India
Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA) initiated the first ever such programme in response to need for management professionals for cooperative and development sector. However, today rural management education is increasingly becoming diverse and vibrant. Currently, many institutes run Rural Management as a specialisation programme across the country like WeSchool-Mumbai, IIRM-Jaipur; XSRM-Bhubaneswar; KSRM- Bhubaneswar: IIHMR to name a few.


Key Competencies’ for a Rural Manager
The Rural Manager should have leadership abilities, innovative mind-set and a willingness and ability to work effectively in the emerging rural economy. The student should have Tenacity – Determination to pursue career in rural sector, Empathy – Ability to understand people and situations they are in, Willingness to travel extensively in rural areas, appreciate growth trends in rural sector and multilingual capability is desirable. To create such managers learning tools play vital role. The transformative pedagogy should include lectures, on-field rural projects, industry visits and research experience through rural internships. Practical exposure to the needs and aspirations, lifestyle, culture, and beliefs of the people residing in the smaller towns of India, such experiential learning plays major role in budding these managers.


Career opportunities for Rural Management
Rural management is the study businesses for and of rural in the areas of agribusiness and allied fields, FMCG, banking and finance, manufacturing, technology and innovation, development and many more. It merges the knowledge of management studies with rural context.

Rural Managers have bright and accelerated career prospects, lie in sectors  growing in the rural space like Banking & Finance, Insurance, FMCG & consumer durables, IT & ITES, Telecom, Manufacturing, Agribusiness and allied services, Healthcare, Energy, Retail, Infrastructure and many others.

There is need for a large number of rural managers who have the requisite skills and competencies to create, manage and grow rural businesses for rural facing companies, cooperatives, development sector organisations and government agencies and thereby become potential agents of change for rural India.


Post graduate Diploma in Rural Management (Emerging Economics)WeSchool PGDM-Rural Management programme is a 2-year full time management programme focussed on “Creating Corporate Managers with Rural Insights”.

The programme provides a perfect platform to such determined individuals with skills and competencies of expected of a young professional in the ever changing rural sector.

(Prof. Swati Sethi is the Associate Dean-Rural Management at Prin. LN Welingkar Institute of Management Development & Research (WeSchool) and Prof. Rachana Patil is teaching Rural Management in the Institute. Views expressed in the article are authors’ own.)