On February 24, 2018, DEF in partnership with Qualcomm launched the second phase of the SoochnaPreneur project in Alwar (Rajasthan), this time with a women-only team of 100 information agents. This phase of the project is supported by Ibtada, an organisation that has been working towards women empowerment for the last 20 years in Alwar. Several women selected for the initiative are leaders of self-help groups nurtured by Ibtada. Women SoochnaPreneurs were formally introduced to the project on the occasion of the launch in the presence of Ramgarh BDO Pradeep and Ibtada Executive Director Rajesh Singhi.
Every woman SoochnaPreneur was given a mobile tablet, with an especially designed app called MeraApp pre-loaded to help them carry out their roles and responsibilities. In this phase, 100 trainee SoochnaPreneurs, including five ASHA workers, from Bihar, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh have been divided into four groups of 25 each to undergo a comprehensive training in delivering information services and using the app.
BDO Pradeep encouraged the women SoochnaPreneurs to work for their community and serve them information that can empower and enable their lives towards betterment of not just the households, but also the community and the village. He also promised to make room in the local Atal Sewa Kendra to allow these SoochnaPreneurs to work from there.
Singhi shared his views on how years of work with women of Alwar have empowered women to take the lead in the community, so much so that today they are seen as changemakers in the community who are working with zeal to enable access to information and entitlements for community members.
Meanwhile, SoochnaPreneur project has also extended its services in Barabanki district of Uttar Pradesh where DEF has been working with the weaver community in Saidanpur and nearby villages. DEF believes, this particular project will scale up the services that DEF offers in the region, with a more targeted approach towards ensuring weaver households are able to access services and entitlements guaranteed to them by the government. For this purpose, an orientation workshop was organised for women SoochnaPreneurs in the region on February 16, 2018, to engage and motivate them to become changemakers for their society. The session started with an understanding on the importance of Internet in our daily lives, and how timely access to information services—and subsequently government schemes and entitlements—can improve the quality of life.