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India's informal economy of casual workers could create 90 million jobs: BCG study

New Delhi, March 31, 2021:  According to a new report by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) the gig economy has the potential to serve up to 90 million jobs, add nearly 1.25% to India’s GDP, while creating millions of jobs for low-income workers.
While the ‘gig’ economy has grown significantly in the past decade with the advent of technology platforms like Ola, Uber, Swiggy, UrbanCompany, among others, it still has lots of room to grow. The report was developed in partnership with the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation.
The study titled ‘Unlocking the Potential of the Gig Economy in India’ provides a detailed look at the gig economy’s potential and sheds light on its dynamics, pain points and opportunities for action. In addition to identifying the potential to serve up to 30% of India’s non-farm employment, the report identifies nearly 5 million jobs in shared services roles and about 12 million jobs in households that could potentially be served via the gig economy. Most of the jobs served will be in the MSME and Households sectors.
The report also presents findings from detailed primary research with gig workers showing that they are not a homogeneous group. Instead, gig workers fall into eight distinct segments with each segment picking up gig work for different reasons and prioritizing different sets of job drivers. Depending on the industry and type of service, the report details pre-requisites from the workers’ perspective to engage with and continue using gig work as a source of livelihood and income.
Finally, the report outlines a roadmap for unlocking India’s gig economy at-scale and the roles that entrepreneurs, investors, non-governmental organizations, and policy makers must play to create an ecosystem that is vibrant, flexible, and inclusive of all workers. While many platforms have built compelling offerings on their own, unlocking the gig economy’s full potential will require an ecosystem of public policy, information and data flow architecture, and supporting services.
Says Rajah Augustinraj, BCG Principal and the lead author of the report: “The gig economy presents a real opportunity for India to drive job creation and economic growth. Technology platforms operating at-scale within an ecosystem of information and services can help unlock efficiencies, bring demand-supply transparency, and drive greater formalization and financial inclusion. Our work puts numbers, specificity and a roadmap to unlock this potential for India.”
Adds Rahil Rangwala, Director India Programmes, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. “During the lockdown, we saw a steady increase in the number of gig workers in India. People who had lost jobs were finding gig opportunities closer to home. The gig economy has the potential to help people in the unorganised sector learn new skills, and help them build a better quality of life for themselves and their families.” 
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What is a Gig economy?
‘Gig economy’ is among the most widely used terms in the business world today.
While gig work (which broadly comprises work delivered on-demand with little to no
ormal contracting) has been around for a long time, it has gained momentum recently
with the success of platform-based companies like Uber (in ridesharing), Swiggy
(in food delivery), and Urban Company (in personal services, home renovations and
repair). Today, thanks to the emergence of technology-enabled gig work platforms,
over 200 million people are considered part of the gig workforce globally.
Research studies have also indicated that participation in the gig economy is higher in developing countries (between five and 12 percent) versus developed economies
(between one and four percent); and most of these jobs are in lower-income job-types
such as deliveries, ridesharing, microtasks, care and wellness.
Gig work is not a new concept in India. With its large informal economy and
‘casual workers’ segment, India has always had the equivalent of gig work across
urban and rural areas - from temporary farm workers to daily-wage construction
laborers to household help.
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Full report here