PeopleShores, a Public Benefit Corp., Focused on Serving African Americans in the Mississippi Delta
As an Asian Indian, you know that the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests are hardly a cathartic, final solution to the terrible reality of African Americans’ lives. The protests are but flashes of resistance surfacing against centuries of systemic violence, subjugation, injustice, and discrimination. As immigrants and minorities, we can relate to it. We know of the high levels of unemployment, lack of opportunities, lack of access to quality education and career skills for today’s service economy, poor nutrition and healthcare, petrified inner city development…. The list is long and we recognize that much needs to be done, beyond protests, to address the deep structural, organic problems.
Many Indians want to do something – out of empathy, a compelling sense of duty that they were brought up with, and a deep sense of gratitude they feel for African Americans whose fight for civil rights paved the path for them to immigrate here. There are many organizations under the Indian American tent through which one can serve. Few are as finely targeted, with a proven model of service delivery, and the backing of the cream of Silicon Valley as PeopleShores.
Built on the success of RuralShores in India that employed Rural youth in marginalized remote regions and later fine-tuned for North America in Silicon Valley as PeopleShores, the company set up a technology center in Clarksdale, MS in January 2019 with the express goal of training young adults and creating professional pathways for them. The Mississippi Delta region – despite a rich legacy of Blues music and once productive farms – is the poorest region in the country and hits low marks on every socioeconomic index. The choice of the location and the timing of PeopleShores’ move is as serendipitous as ingenious. What PeopleShores achieved and learned in this most distressed of communities can be smartly adapted to other communities across the country particularly in this distressed time for African Americans. Talk to us. We will tell you how we did it and why we think we have a tested model that is targeted, replicable, productive, and inclusive. We think you will be convinced to add your bit.
PeopleShores: The center and the program at Clarksdale, Mississippi
At its well-equipped 200-seat center in Clarksdale, PeopleShores employs local young adults in technologies and functions in high demand. The trained graduates are employed as process associates and assigned to projects/processes that PeopleShores wins from some of the top companies in the country. As of today, the center could seat up to 300 professionals on these assignments. Today, the Clarksdale center employs 85 people of whom 81 are African Americans.
The associates are trained on a variety of digital transformation and technology-enabled skills including Robotics Process Automation, Data Analytics, Machine Learning, customer services, and back-office support. The trained associates are delivering high quality services to PeopleShores customers in a range of functions including robotics design and development, AI/ML Augmentation, and back office processing.
PeopleShores approached the area’s problems by involving the local community right from the conception stage. The ground was set well before the first job fair on a cold and rainy winter day. The leadership team expected about 35 people but nearly 200 showed up. From those who attended that event, 26 people were hired for the first cohort. This team went through a 60-day internship program and 24 of them successfully completed the program. The high retention rate reflects the motivation of the associates and the center’s holistic approach to their training. They were treated with care and empathy. Each individual’s inherent qualities and abilities were respected. PeopleShores held them to a high standard but, because they were so often affirmed in the best way, the associates invariably lifted themselves to meet that standard. In addition to soft skills, these associates were taken through an intense development program on essential technical skills. Every one of the first 24 employees has been certified for advanced Robotic Process Automation by Automation Anywhere, a global leader in RPA Technology.
The impact of our training and employment model in Clarksdale goes beyond the associates. It radiates out to their families, their personal networks, and their communities in specific, tangible ways. It throws a beacon of hope, inspiration, and opportunity to many others. It is a truly transformative catalyst in a community that has been historically underserved. As is often said, success begets success.
Indian American Support
PeopleShores strength and confidence comes in no small measure from the success of the Indian American community in Silicon Valley. From the initial encouragement and investment to start PeopleShores as a Public Benefit Corporation to ongoing business and intellectual support, nearly 30 successful high-profile Indian American entrepreneurs and professionals in the Bay Area had our backs. They brought to us their own networks of influence and support thus truly reflecting one community reaching out to help another community, symbiotically.
Please consider joining us in our efforts to serve the African American community. Our model of service delivery is a proven, prudent approach that specifically targets people in underserved communities to give them access to opportunities in the new economy and lay the foundation for a purposeful and productive lifetime. Compared to starting new ventures and new programs with overheads and uncertain outcomes, we believe PeopleShores offers the “best bang for your buck” and an outlet to channel your sense of duty, resources, and expertise.
PeopleShores in the Homeland
In characteristic prescience, a group of Silicon Valley stalwarts including Raju Reddy, BV Jagadeesh, Vivek Mahadevan, MR Rangaswami, and Sundar Kamath saw the value of importing the successful RuralShores model to the USA to address the unemployment problem in the underserved communities in the USA. “We knew clearly, very early on, that we wanted to create job opportunities for not just opportunity youth in inner cities, but also for veterans, and young adults in the depressed rural communities,” says Murali.
PeopleShores was launched in San Jose in 2017 as a Public Benefit Corporation targeting about 20,000 local youth stuck in a vicious cycle of poverty, a lack of social support and access to education and employment, and inadequacy of social skills. The success of this center soon attracted attention from public officials in other parts of the country. One was Jon Levingston, Executive Director of the Coahoma County Economic Development Authority in the Mississippi Delta region. PeopleShores team was convinced of the value they could bring to the area and decided to start a center there. The rest, as they say, is history…well, history in the making, waiting for people like you.
“We are grateful for what we have achieved so far but we stay hungry for more,” says Murali.
As expressed by Raju, “Indian Americans have built a reputation as great tech entrepreneurs and PeopleShores is a wonderful example of applying that expertise to address a critical social challenge by creating jobs in underserved communities across America. As an ethnic group with the nations highest per capita income, it is also important for us to become more visible as positive change makers and PeopleShores initial success will hopefully inspire others to participate and help realize its vision.”
For further information and enquiries about PeopleShores, please contact
Murali at email@example.com
Murali Vullaganti is the Founder and CEO of PeopleShores, a US based Public Benefit Corporation (PBC) focusing on empowering and transforming young adults in under-served communities in the US into knowledge professionals through Impact Sourcing. Prior to PeopleShores, Murali founded RuralShores, a similar social enterprise set up in 2009 in India with a vision to bring technology-oriented jobs to the rural youth. RuralShores now has 18 centers spread across 9 states employing 4000+ rural youth managing 80+ complex processes for 30+ reputed clients across 4 continents. RuralShores success story is a case study at Oxford, Harvard, IIM Bangalore and other management schools.