Open Spring of Ideas List

Middle Class Layouts : Business Opportunities As Old Age Homes For A Social Entrepreneur

  1. It is well known that India is a young country with about 550 million under age 25 years. About 650 million under age 30. But many may not realize that about 110 million Indians are senior citizens about 60 years of age. About 5 to 6 millions Indians get added to this pool every year. This size of population is bigger than the total population of many developed and developing countries in the world.
  2. As per the overall ratios in Indian demography, about 90 to 100 million persons among the senior citizens will be very poor or have very low incomes. Since employment in organized sector in India has always been very low (most Indians making their livelihood through their work in informal or unorganized sector or self employment), terminal benefits of pension, provident fund, medical facilities etc are not available to them. Only a small number of persons say around 10 to 15 million senior citizens will have some form pension or some income trough interest in bank accounts or shares etc.
  3. Often most such persons during their working life would have bought an apartment or individual house as a part of a cooperative housing society or a private society. One finds many such LAYOUTS or VIHARS in Delhi and other cities. For example I stay in ISRO Layout in Bangalore. Most of these layouts have a mix of old and young people. Most 'young people' waiting for retirement too in five to ten years. Another interesting factor due to general development of health care system in India, despite several deficiencies, is that many middle class Indians 'men and women' tend to live upto 80 years or more. Many of their children would have gone abroad or stay elsewhere in India. Most old couple have to live alone and also be ready to live singly if the partner dies earlier.
  4. For many of them, upper end old age homes will be beyond reach. Also many of them would prefer to live in the houses they have built. Typically many of these layouts will have about 100 to 500 houses each.
  5. Instead of uprooting them, here is a low investment business opportunity even while serving a good cause. Create a small office near or in such layouts general titled 'Senior Citizen Service Centre'. Have a young and well trained persons available in the office 24x7 throughout the year. Reachable by phone.
    Minimum Services:
    1. At least once a week go and visit each senior citizen in their home or at a common place. Just interact. Ask about any problem they face etc.
    2. Always be available to help in an emergency such as to admit to hospital, or to arrange for food because they suddenly got a fever etc.
    3. Help in payment of property tax etc.
    4. Or arrange for food services or ironing of clothes.
    5. One may add to the list.
    Business Plan:
    The minimum services are available only to those who pay a small monthly membership fee or say Rs.200 pm or more. This is where the real entrepreneurship talent comes in. judge how much they can pay for what services. Some time membership can be very low and for each service one can add more. Even to get things repaired. Or to send food when they are unable to cook at home; or get a house servant when the existing one goes on leave or organize night watching service etc.
    If the social Entrepreneur starts it with a partner (one male and another female) it will be better, as they can attend to gender specific problems of the senior citizens.
  6. In this type service in already existing layout or apartment complexes, one can start the business with very low investment. If the entrepreneur is imaginative they can tie up with nearby nursing homes, transport services, ticketing centres etc. All those services required for the senior citizens.
    If one is imaginative the entrepreneur can arrange for birthday wishes for each senior citizen or simple celebrations; arrange social gathering etc. Also tie up with business houses who serve the old age segments to sponsor some social events. On the whole the senior citizens should feel, they are cared for. Another the services should be prompt and ethical.
  7. Bigger Plans: If one has more resources, it could be a larger network of small centres at different parts of the city, all together functioning as a company. If such items can be done, the company can even arrange for special cars to suit the sitting constraints of senior citizens, arrange for special beds etc. There is so much to do. I can write a book on these!
  8. Is there some one around who is ready to enter this new field? You have a great growth possibility. And also would have the satisfaction of serving senior citizens and get their blessings. Senior citizens will love such services.

It is a win - win for all and a unique Indian institution.

Y.S.Rajan
05/12/2010