Digitally empowering handloom clusters and weaver communities of India since 2007

India’s craft traditions and living craft skills, passed on from generation to generation, are not just an important part of its cultural identity but a crucial means of sustenance for numerous communities. According to official figures, there are about 70 lakh artisans engaged in craft production for their livelihood. As per unofficial figures, there are about 20 crore artisans who form the backbone of India’s non-farm rural economy.

Keeping this in mind and inspired by the Chanderiyaan model, Digital Empowerment Foundation in partnership with various CSR groups initiated a number of projects under the Digital Cluster Development Programme (DCDP) that primarily involves inclusive and decentralised use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) and other digital tools in critical aspects of cluster development, especially improving and scaling up weaving skills, designs, marketing and entrepreneurship, besides creating sustainable livelihood options for the youth in the clusters.

Since 2015, DEF has adopted the handloom clusters of Saidanpur in Uttar Pradesh in partnership with Ericsson; Barpali & Nuapatna in Odisha, Kollegal in Karnataka, and Po­champalli in Telangana in partnership with Microsoft; Musiri in Tamil Nadu in partner­ship with Mphasis; Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu in partnership with Nokia; Warli in Maharashtra with UNDP; and more handloom clusters are in the pipeline.

In 2017, DEF established DigiKargha Foundation (North), a Section 8 company, to support its cluster under the Digital Cluster Development Programme (DCDP) in an effort to lead them towards maturity and sustainability through digital empowerment and socio-economic sustainability.

Read more about Digikargha at https://digikargha.in/ and DCDP at www.dcdpindia.org



  • 9 artisan clusters have been introduced to digital interventions
  • 10,000+ people have been trained in digital literacy in artisan clusters
  • 1,000+ youth from weaver clusters have been trained in digital designing
  • 100+ songs have been digitally archived

For more information, please mail us at info@defindia.org

eHeritage Project

Preservation of culture & heritage using digital media tools since 2014

Almost every Indian city is replete with rich culture, traditions, sacred spaces and historical sites that illustrate the country’s unique heritage. At a time of rapid mod­ernisation of public spaces in India — sometimes to the detriment of heritage sites and cultural traditions — it becomes critical to preserve the heritage, making it acces­sible to all for the sake of posterity. Since most heritage sites are not featured online, the e-Heritage Project seeks to collaborate with communities to bring heritage into the digital space with the following objectives to build capacity of the local community to document heritage in their area; educate and involve the local communities in the preservation of heritage sites, both physically and vir­tually; and utilise the Internet as an information platform for public education about the Indian heritage.

In an endeavor to achieve the same, Digital Empower­ment Foundation in partnership with UNESCO India and the Indian Heritage Cities Network first initiated the project in Chanderi (Madhya Pradesh) and then with UNESCO in Shahjahanabad (Old Delhi) to digitally enhance their heritage and showcase the potential of the areas through rich text, photographs and videos. The project has also supported Rajasthani folk musicians in digitally archiving their music on the Internet.

Read more about the project on www.chanderiheritage.org, www.olddelhiheritage.in and mewatheritage.khamayati.org



  • 400+ monuments across Old Delhi and Chanderi now have digital presence
  • 100+ songs have been digitally archived

For more information, please mail us at info@defindia.org

eNGO Programme

Digitally empowering grassroots organisations since November 2009

DEF initially rolled out the eNGO Programme in partnership with the National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) in 2009 with the objective of helping grassroots nonprofits working in the development sector set up their own websites and go online with .in domain. Since 2011, the eNGO programme has been further strengthened and expanded with support from global nonprofit Public Interest Registry (PIR) which operates and manages the .org top level domain globally. With PIR, the eNGO Programme conducted hundreds of workshops across South-Asia and expanded its reach to some parts of Africa. During this period, the eNGO team created digital identities of around 3,500 grassroots nonprofits from Across India, rest of the South-Asia and Africa.

In 2014, DEF took its partnership with PIR further and began working towards the launch two new top level do­mains—.ngo and .ong—exclusively for verified nonprofit institutions under its subsidiary ENSET. The new top level domains were rolled out in May 2015. This has enabled public and private sector donor agencies and global NGOs to readily find and identify genuine organisa­tions that they would like to support and fund. In 2015, DEF secured collaboration with Tata Trusts to digitally empower the latter’s 450 NGO partners over a year through strategic ICT capacity building workshops under DEF’s eNGO Programme. In 2016, eNGO took a leap forward and became a sustainable programme with more than 6,000 NGO members in its network, and a fixed revenue stream put in place through its tailor-made products and services exclusively designed for nonprofits across the world even as it continued to make websites for free for nonprofits in need.

The eNGO also works towards digitally transforming its network members through capacity building programmes aimed at improved outreach, quality content and sustainability.

Read more about the project on www.engoindia.org



  • 6,000+ nonprofits join eNGO network in South Asia & Africa
  • 10,000+ NGO representatives trained in ICT tools across South Asia & Africa
  • 5000+ websites being hosted by eNGO programme at its servers
  • 200+ workshops conducted across Asia and Africa to train NGO representative in leveraging digital tools and ICT

For more information, please mail us at info@defindia.org


Enabling Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises for efficiency and em­powerment since 2010

This one-time programme was packaged and designed by DEF to meet market access and expan­sion, information and promotional needs of micro, small and medium enterprises, self-help groups and other small enterprises in India. The project provided web-enabled facility to MSMEs, SHGs and other small enterprises at minimal cost. It aimed at providing maximum number of entrepre­neurs a virtual identity and visibility in front of a global and national audience. Lack of affordable Internet solutions from reliable vendors has been a major hindrance for micro and small enterprises to expand their businesses using the Internet. The eMSME programme proved to be a boon for several enterprises which function at a low scale at the grassroots and helps them get a worldwide presence.

While the deliverables have been met and the project closed, the vision of the project— of bring micro and small & medium enterprises online— is being carried forward by projects like DigiKargha and Smartpur.



  • 1,350 digitally empowered by enabling them to have their own websites and online presence
  • 135 clusters spread across 5 districts in 3 states now online

For more information, please mail us at info@defindia.org

Facebook Dost

Building digital capacities of micro and nano entrepreneurs in rural India since 2018

Facebook Dost is a project that aims to instill digital marketing skills in 50,000 micro and nano entrepreneurs across four backward Indian states — Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Odisha. Under this project, DEF delivers an especially-designed curriculum through a series of workshops to groups of micro entrepreneurs, MSME representatives, artisans and self-help groups.

The project seeks to digitally empower micro and nano entrepreneurs in rural India to reach out to the larger audience base to sell their products in an effort to help them improve their livelihood by leveraging the benefits of a leading social networking platform. The trainings and interactions with micro and nano entrepreneurs also serve as a resource to create a comprehensive database of village-level entrepreneurs and document case stories and success stories of best practices in various audio-visual formats.

Status: Closed

For more information, please mail us at info@defindia.org

Creating livelihood opportunities for rural women through experiential tourism since 2019

SHE Hosts stands of Sustainable, Hospital and Entrepreneurial. SHE Hosts is a project that seeks to enhance livelihood opportunities for rural women through the promotion of local art, craft, culture, tradition and history.

People in rural parts of India, especially women, still lack awareness regarding various livelihood opportunities because of low level of literacy and limited realisation of surroundings. Local attractions and grassroots experiences often go unnoticed due to low hospitality standards.

Under this initiative, in partnership with Airbnb, DEF will train 15,000 rural women across India in digital literacy, hospitality skills and entrepreneurial abilities, encouraging them to operate and maintain home stays and other activities in their respective regions to promote sustainable and experiential tourism.

The objectives under this project aim at nurturing rural women into women entrepreneurs for improved households incomes; supporting rural economy through appreciation and promotion of local art and culture; and creating digital knowledge pool by documenting indigenous art, history and culture. At the end of the six-month training, 15,000 women are expected to be skilled in hospitality management, functional digital literacy, communication skills and entrepreneurial abilities.

Efforts would then me made to ensure as many women as possible see the potential conversion into an entrepreneur who can either open our home to global tourists or offer them experiential tourism. The conversations would lead to economic upliftment of the household, as well the village through promotion of local tourism. The states identified for the roll out of this project include Arunanchal Pradesh, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

Status: Closed

For more information, please mail us at info@defindia.org

VOICES OF RURAL INDIA- a curated platform for rural storytellers

The Covid-19 induced lockdown has brought India’s tourism industry to a grinding halt. Rural communities have lost their livelihoods, supply chains have been disrupted and alternate income streams have thinned. Experts anticipate that the effect will be felt for up to a year or longer.

Voices of Rural India (VoRI) is an effort to turn this unprecedented crisis into an opportunity to create alternate livelihoods by upgrading digital skills in rural India, while also preserving grassroots knowledge that is slowly disappearing. VoRI is a not-for-profit digital initiative to host curated stories by rural storytellers. Unlike most existing online platforms, the stories of rural India will be told directly in rural voices.

In the short-term, Voices of Rural India aims to create a revenue stream for affected communities through digital journalism. It will help develop digital storytelling skills using basic tools at the grassroots level, with a focus on women and the youth. In the long run, Voices of Rural India aims to become a repository of oral traditions, local folklore, and the culture of rural India, documented in local voices. The digital skills thus acquired can be used to support rural entrepreneurship ventures.

VoRI is an independent not-for-profit supported by Digital Empowerment Foundation.

Website: https://www.voicesofruralindia.org/

For more information, please mail us at info@defindia.org

Markets & Social Enterprises

This programmatic area ensures greater integration of grassroots markets with the global market through digital interventions. Projects under Markets & Social Enterprises seek to enable and empower grassroots businesses to access global markets and vice versa. They also seek to promote and strengthen entrepreneurship within marginalised and digitally-excluded communities through digital interventions and, thereby, serve the cross-cutting goal of society-wide digital inclusion. Projects in this area also help non-profits and civil society organisations working for digital inclusion or contributing to preservation of culture, heritage, environment and natural resources.


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