Emerging peer to peer networks,
enabling job creation


“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.” says an African proverb.

Peer to peer networks are not a new concept and have been a fundamental part of human society. Especially in terms of business, the market has always been driven by peer networks that find synergies and profits through relationships and generate livelihoods. India needs to generate 120 million new livelihoods in the 2021–2030 decade to ensure near full employment for its 610 million labor force by 2030 . In light of the current pandemic situation, the need for dignified jobs will further increase as more than 41 lakh jobs were reported to be lost by the pandemic in 2020. The policy landscape presumes that large enterprises can generate this gamut of jobs and thus favours them. This resulted in a strong peer to peer connection amongst large enterprises, formalised through institutions like FICCI which facilitates amicable relations. But the concentration of efforts at the large enterprise scale while commendable, misses the crux of India's livelihood problems. Building micro-enterprises at the grassroots, with efforts to build peer connections between them, as well as theirs with stakeholders can build up local entrepreneurial ecosystems, deepening local socio-economic well-being and solidarity, especially in uncertain times such as that of the pandemic. From the perspective of sustainable growth, it is really the micro-enterprises that hold the promise to address India's uncertain future with respect to generate dignified livelihoods. Micro-enterprises, which comprises of 99% of total enterprises in the MSME and employs 10.7 million individuals , can therefore not only spark activity in local economies but peer to peer connections between entrepreneurs at the local scale can also spark solidarity in meeting local needs, providing support services for new entrepreneurs, and leveraging upcoming opportunities in new sectors such as e-commerce, organic farming, agro-processed and allied services and so on. Such possibilities are crucial as employment and enterprises of the most marginalised have been adversely affected by the pandemic, and thus finding new ways to revive socio-economic well-being is the need of the hour.

In order to strengthen the local rural micro entrepreneurs, re-building the peer to peer network can open alternate and sustainable supply chains. Through peer to peer networks, individuals are connected with underlying goals such as earning profit, supporting fellow businessmen or networking, irrespective of any sectoral differences. Peer to Peer networks allow autonomy to all its stakeholders and also ample scope for non-linear (and often unconventional) flows which promotes innovation as well as resourcefulness.

Development Alternatives, across multiple of its enterprise development programs, have built evidence around the power of peer to peer networks at a micro and meso (district) level. One of the approaches which have helped Development Alternatives in strengthening the peer to peer network is the social innovation approach in which deep listening exercises assisted by co-creation tools and prototyping methodology is helping rural micro-entrepreneurs to leverage existing local relations into peer to peer networks for business sustainability and reach economies of scale. They are doing so in the following ways:

  • a) Developing supply chains and aggregation channels: Asha Devi, a vermicomposting entrepreneur in Mirzapur best example of peer to peer network. She not only encourages and motivates her peers to do something on their own but also give them training on composting and helps them to set up an enterprise. Asha Devi aggregates the bio compost from them and sells it to nearby nurseries. This has enabled development of supply channels within the community. This network now sustains 14 enterprises which includes vermicomposting, nursery, cattle rearing and generates 35+ livelihoods. Asha Devi herself has become a role model for her sister-in-law Mamta who has started her own ice cream manufacturing business which directly employs 15+ youth.

  • b) Local support system and mentorship: As mentioned, the main focus of peer 2 peers is learning and growing together. Kajal Parihar in Bundelkhand is the first woman to run an information kiosk. She observed the needs of her village and got the idea to open an info kiosk. She visited nearby villages and collected information on how to run an information kiosk from one of the existing entrepreneurs, Sappu Pandey. Through her help 2 more women have also started their info kiosks. This way peer to peer network enables exchange of knowledge and learnings, sets up enterprises and also creates a chain of impacts.

  • c) Digital outreach: As the penetration of internet and mobile connectivity increases in the rural areas, peer networks are also evolving fast through digital platforms/ networks and thus generating livelihoods. Platforms like WhatsApp groups, Facebook pages etc. are being used for linking rural youth with new age livelihoods. In line with this, the development of an innovative technology, which uses raspberry pi technology to connect more than 53+ young women to digital livelihood opportunities like web designing, content developer etc.

The above approach uses various social innovation tools like Kaun Banega Market Leader which is a public level competition aimed at gathering ideas on innovative marketing models. The competition was aimed at seeking innovative marketing ideas from women and youth to overcome barriers of market access for rural entrepreneurs and unlock opportunities for expansion of their enterprises. Likewise, the current form of peer to peer networks work within informal networks, yet this informality is creating networks and connections which is enabling livelihood creation and supporting each other for skills enhancement. Thus creating a discourse that enables an entrepreneurial ecosystem that works in harmony with livelihood generation.



  • https://livelihoods-india.org/publications/all-page-soil-report.html

  • https://www.bloombergquint.com/economy-finance/41-lakh-youth-lose-jobs-in-india-due-to-covid-19-impact-ilo-adb-report

  • https://msme.gov.in/sites/default/files/MSME-ANNUAL-REPORT-ENGLISH%202020-21.pdf

Debasis Ray

Roopali Gupta


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