“We are the digital designers fighting information poverty”

The Legatum Center at MIT has been conducting research on Innovation-driven enterprises (IDE) that are unlocking significant business and societal value by solving systemic problems that conventional business models have not been able to solve. In that research, Legatum Center included the Digital Empowerment Foundation as an example of IDE’s. Following is a compilation from the interviews with Osama Manzar, founder and director of Digital Empowerment Foundation, by Valeria Budinich and Adeeb Qasem from LC on April 6, 2021 and April 16, 2021.
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A Conversation Between Ashoka Fellowship and Osama Manzar

It’s interesting that we must share and narrate this story with so many friends throughout time. It is hard to begin with describing who I am, especially when there has been an evolution of thinking and applying and a growth of consciousness over time. One is never the same person they were yesterday, and they will never be the same person tomorrow, in a mixed manner. It could be good or bad. But interestingly, people are very kind when you are evolving under twenty or under thirty years of age, people are still kind, they don’t blame you and tend to take it easy and refrain from judging.
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An Article by Social Work India on the Digital Empowerment Foundation’s Effort to Bridge the Digital Divide

“Getting into the world of internet was like losing your way as a traveller. I had nothing to do with computers. But I could see the internet as a change maker. So while I saw internet as a big opportunity, it was obvious that we were not prepared to embrace it. And thus began Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) in December 2002. There was no office, no staff, except my spouse and me.” The words of Osama Manzar indicated his journey…
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How Digital Empowerment Foundation is using technology for COVID-19 relief in India

Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) was started in 2002 with the aim of connecting “unreached and underserved communities of India in an effort to to bring them out of digital darkness and equip them with access to information.” The organization has responded instantaneously to the pandemic, providing digital relief to various communities across India.

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An Article About the Founder & Director of DEF Osama Manzar by Civil Society Magazine

As India goes digital, equality in access becomes crucial. It is what makes the difference between giving people the benefits of growth or letting them fall behind. It was with this thought that Osama Manzar founded the Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) in 2002 and has since worked with craftsmen and microenterprises to help them reach markets and customers. DEF has through annual awards encouraged digital initiatives that have promoted inclusion and helped shape an ecosystem in which technology is used to serve the marginalised.
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