Sixty finalists showcase their innovation at mBillionth

mBillionth Awards is a platform established by Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) to identify, recognise and felicitate mobile-based initiatives that are striving to facilitate and enhance communities. Celebrating such initiatives, the 9th mBillionth Awards were held at Eros Hotel, New Delhi, on October 3, 2018. A 16-member Grand Jury, shortlisted around 60 Finalists out of which, 23 initiatives were announced as Winners, four received Special Mentions and two were felicitated with the Chairman’s Distinctions. A complete list of winners can be found here. This year, DEF received a total of 154 nominations from eight South Asian countries. As many as 60 finalists were handpicked based on strict but fair criteria. Each of these 60 Finalists showcased their innovations at the mBillionth Awards Expo, which was the hub of dialogue and discoveries amonng innovators and the audience. Read More

What does rural India think of WhatsApp?
Almost 70 per cent of the respondents rated their trust score on WhatsApp between 1-5 on a scale of 10. Read More
Take a Break, Every Day
Apps are designed to force you to hit ‘refresh’ after ‘refresh’, keep you glued to your screens and make you spend hours on the device Read More
The Game of Fake News
Get Bad News makes you drop all pretense of ethics and choose the path of an unscrupulous media magnate. GetBadNews is a game, designed by Cambridge Social Decision-Making Lab Read More
Building Smartpur
Smartpur is a rural entrepreneurship-based initiative to transform rural villages into digitally integrated holistic villages Read More

DEF shares rural India’s journey of digital inclusion at MozFest
In a proud moment for the organisation, DEF was selected last month to speak to a global audience at Mozilla Festival 2018 about its efforts at taking rural India online. The MozFest is a week-long celebration for, by, and about people who love the Internet. Tech enthusiasts come together on this platform to showcase world-changing ideas and technology through workshops and interactive sessions. DEF had the opportunity to host two sessions here. The first session, titled Local to Global, showcased how artisans in rural India are learning computers, designing on CAD/CAM, marketing on social media, and making sales on eCommerce portals. Read More
Recognising digital excellence in the public library system
Digital technology is becoming the central axis, rapidly redefining the ways and means of interaction in the communities and social space. DEF along with IPLM is set to launch the India Public Library Innovations Award, which aims to recognise and honour excellence in innovations in digitally transforming public libraries across India to meet 21st century needs and challenges of digital, knowledge and information society and economy. The award provides all the stakeholders an opportunity to connect and become a part of a network to gain a greater understanding of social and digital channels. More information can be found about this award-based initiative here.
Providing digital marketing training to mini entrepreneurs
Since the launch of the three month-long project Facebook DOST, DEF has been delivering trainings to micro and nano entrepreneurs from five states, namely Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha. With a vision to enable more and more businessmen and businesswomen to become trained in digital marketing and have access to digital tools, the month of October saw two trainings of the trainers in New Delhi and Bettiah, Bihar, respectively. While the training in New Delhi saw participation of 40 trainers from four states, the training in Bettiah had participation of 60 trainers from Bihar.
Finding the missing link to connectivity
Community Information Resource Centres (CIRCs) are community-oriented infrastructure and information hubs built to create digitally literate, information-empowered and equitable communities across the country. The CIRCs primarily offer digital literacy, digital services, information services, citizen services and business development services to create information-rich society under a sustainable model. With support from Oracle and the Missing Link Trust, DEF has established a new CIRC in Madhya Gurguria, Kultali block in West Bengal, to provide life skills to the first-generation computer learners.
A congress for smart villages
Smartpur is bustling with its expansion activities, which are taking place at a country-wide level. After the pilot in Nuh (Haryana) and Asoor (Tamil Nadu), Smartpur has now reached Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh, and Bharatpur and Alwar in Rajasthan. To ensure everyone is aligned with the mission and mission of Smartpur, a week-long orientation programme was organised for the team on October 29 in New Delhi. It was attended by the staff from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh. Last month, Smartpur also got a chance to showcase its efforts at the India Mobile Congress (IMC) 2018. Read More
Blooming handloom
Under DEF's Digital Cluster Development Programme, all artisan clusters are blossoming with the marriage of digital technology and handloom weaving tradition. October started off with the celebration of Daan Utsav (Joy of Giving week) in Saidanpur, Uttar Pradesh, and ended with two cluster-special multi-national platforms to showcase the perfect amalgamation of their calibre and tradition. On October 19, Technology Day was hosted at a Nokia factory in Chennai. On October 24, weavers of Kaulava got the opportunity to exhibit their products at the Microsoft campus in Bengaluru during the latter’s annual Giving Campaign.
Fighting fake news
In light of the increasing virality of misinformation, DEF in collaboration with WhatsApp has been leading a series of workshops across states that are due for Assembly elections this month or the next. Following a kick-off workshop last month, DEF has hosted workshops for the police department and other community members in Balaghat and Seoni in Madhya Pradesh, Kolasib and Aizawl in Mizoram, Baloda Bazaar and Janjgir in Chhatisgarh, and Alwar in Rajasthan. The workshops focus on differentiating between fact, opinion and fake; understanding the “other” perspective; learning techniques to verify information; and leveraging WhatsApp’s features for restricting unwanted communications.
Creating barefoot wireless engineers
A 12-day residential Barefoot Wireless Engineers training, hosted by Digital Literacy and Services for Women of Madhya Pradesh, was organised between October 5 and 16, 2018, in Guna. Under this training, 15 individuals were trained to become wireless engineers. The training covered components of computer & internet literacy, functional digital literacy, media & information literacy and wireless networking engineering. This training has digitally enabled the participants and made them professional trainers for others. Through this training, each participant has enhanced their personal skills, capabilities and has also increased the job opportunities for them.
Digitally mentoring young tribal girls through GOAL
GOAL or Going Online As Leaders is a digital literacy and mentorship initiative by DEF seeking to link urban empowered women, known for their leadership skills or roles, to five tribal girls each, in an effort to make them digitally literate and well-rounded with life skills. With this vision, the first training of trainers was organised in Betul, Madhya Pradesh, on October 11, 2018 for rural women trainers who will be responsible for the girls’ digital literacy. Urban empowered women, meanwhile, will connect with their mentees every fortnight via video calls to create a pool of agents of change at the local level.
Building a force of women digital change-makers
An initiative of Google and Tata Trusts, implemented by DEF in Madhya Pradesh and Bihar, Internet Saathi aims to train rural women in digital literacy. In October 2018, 477 Internet Saathis were trained through a workshop. Women from varied backgrounds of caste, economic status and educational qualifications and most of them first-time digital users participated in this workshop. Every Internet Saathi, equipped with two smartphones, has a target of four villages with a door-to-door approach during a six-month period to impart basic mobile literacy to other women, eventually reaching out to three lakh rural women and girls.
Reaching out to the last mile with digital services
DEF is reaching out to communities at the last mile with the help of Aadhaar Enabled Payment System named DigiPay to provide villagers a hassle-free service. This service has been praised by the villagers for the very ability of bringing end-to-end government services at their doorstep. Apart from this, a residential training was also organised with 16-youth from Tata Pradan team in Guna, Madhya Pradesh, to train the young generation in basic knowledge of computers as well as introduce them to the world of the Internet and, particularly, social media in an effort to enhance their livelihood options.
Hope restored
Kamlesh, living with her husband and mother-in-law in Khedi village of Alwar district, Rajasthan, has for long seen grey days, marred by extreme poverty. The family survives on her husband’s meagre income. Meanwhile, Kamlesh conceived and the prospect of an additional family member added extra financial burden on the family. While dealing with their plight, Kamlesh met SoochnaPreneur Manju. Listening to this, Manju took Kamlesh to Alwar and got her registered under Anchal Prasuti Yojana and within 10 days Kamlesh received her ration and iron folic acid tablets free of cost.

mBillionth Awards 2018

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Five-step guide to mobile innovation
Madanmohan Rao
Research Director, YourStory
Charter Member, TiE
The journey for innovative social entrepreneurs and mobile technology wizards can be full of ups and downs and riddled with obstacles such as management or scalability issues. Three key ‘chasms’ or deep valleys that digital innovators must jump over are, from concept to prototype; from prototype to a sustainable model; and significant scaling up from early users to segments of society. Here are five ways in which mobile innovators can scale up their offerings. Product managers must be experienced in at least one of the four key areas... Read More
How emerging technologies are creating a race for insights on innovation

In an increasingly digital world, a common denominator for successful organisations is the ability to empower its workforce and customers with the right information at breakneck speeds. With IDC forecasting that at least 50 per cent of global GDP will be digitised by 2021, putting data to good use is no longer merely important, but a genuine prerequisite in order to compete. This represents both a challenge and as well as a (significant) opportunity Read More

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Digital Empowerment Foundation aims to connect unreached and underserved communities of India to bring them out of digital darkness and empower them with information access through last mile connectivity, digital literacy and digital interventions. Established in 2002, with the motto to ‘Inform, Communicate and Empower,’ DEF aims to find sustainable ICT solutions to overcome information poverty in rural locations of India.

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