Mentorship & Entrepreneurship Empowering PwDs to Become Independent

India is a diverse country with multiple cultures, traditions, languages and religions. We like to call ourselves an inclusive society, a society which looks beyond differences and is equal to all. However, we don’t take into account the differently-abled population. India is home to nearly 27 million differently abled people; they constitute 2.21% of the total population. However, they are discriminated against at every stage, right from early education till becoming a part of the employable population. Many of the work places are inaccessible to them, so even if they manage to secure a job, continuing it becomes a challenge. Digital Empowerment Foundation through its various programs is making an attempt to provide opportunities to persons with disabilities. Read More


Circular Economy – Making good of what goes around, comes around
The number of new digital goods sold annually worldwide is over six billion, and it is increasing at a rapid pace. There is a prediction of 1.5 billion smartphones being sold before the end of 2021, alongside 126 million desktop computers, 659 million laptops, and 513 million Wi-Fi routers. The pressure of e-waste on developing countries like India is even more immense given the large population, increasing digital penetration and illegal shipment of e-waste to their shores from the developed countries. Read More
TypeRight Chapter Twenty Three: Shah Rukh Khan and Cadbury Ad- Love and Hate in the Times Social Media and Machine Learning
India is starting to celebrate the festive season which is around the corner. Advertisements of big brands wrapped in relatable content are appearing on our television and social media. Cadbury is known for its relatable advertisements. Cadbury released an advertisement that features Shah Rukh Khan, who is battling to save his son Aryan Khan in a seemingly vindictive drug case. Despite evidence that seems to be suggesting that his son, Aryan Khan, has not consumed drugs but was only present or invited at the wrong place at the wrong time, has been kept in custody till 28 October from 3 October 2021. The advertisement looks interesting as on its surface it promises to promote the local businesses ‘This Diwali, we helped hundreds of small businesses by making India’s biggest brand ambassador, their brand ambassador.’ The advertisement allows the local businesses, who have been badly affected due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, to promote their ventures by creating their own advertisement in Shah Rukh Khan’s voice over. Read More

Where There is a Will, There is a Way
Twenty two year old Ambika Kumari was born in a financially backward family. She was diagnosed with locomotor disability, after her birth. As a child, Ambika found it hard to mix with her peers as they rarely cared to involve her in while playing games. This led her to depression and exclusion at a very young age. But she was well determined not to get drowned in her own thoughts, but to find a solution. She wanted to lead a normal life and had come to terms with her disability when her father passed away. This surfaced a new set of problems for her and her family- the responsibility of running the house was on her shoulders completely. Read More
Case Study – A Ray of Hope
35-year-old Zubair Ahmed Shah, a resident of New Delhi’s Madanpur Khadar has locomotor disability. Despite completing his primary education, Zubair has been denied any livelihood opportunities due to his disability. He came into contact with Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) and its Virtual Livelihood Resource Centres (VLRC) program. In partnership with Leonard Cheshire, the programme aims to generate livelihood opportunities and improve skills of Person with Disabilities (PwD). Zubair wanted to share the burden of his elder brother, who has a responsibility of four family members, but he was unable to find a job. Read More
A 24-Year-Old Specially Abled Conquering the World
She couldn’t walk due to disability, but this didn’t stop her from standing against all the odds. Nunita uses her hands to commute. She has completed her graduation in arts with the help of a scholarship. There was a time when she went through severe depression and exclusion. She had lost all her confidence and had given up hope. During COVID-19 lockdown, Nunita came to know about Digital Empowerment Foundation and visited the Ramgarh Digital Center in Jharkhand. There she started learning computers and enrolled for the GOAL Samarth program. Nunita also got a chance to be mentored by Sneha Chandana, founder of Planet Able. Read More
Stronger, Faster & Better
Amanat is 22-year-old mentee from Malab village, Nuh, Haryana. Amanat lost her right leg three years ago in an accident and stays with her parents and two younger siblings. She has completed her bachelor’s degree and holds a diploma in JBT (junior basic training for teaching), but still unable to find a right job. Amanat’s mentor Annudita conducts weekly sessions with her in a group as well as individually to keep her motivated and high on energy. During the session Annudita supports her in career guidance, tips to stay focused on her goal, make friends and more. Knowing about Amanat’s dream of becoming a teacher, Annudita gives her tips on how to become a good teacher. Read More
Breaking the Stereotype
Livelihood is critical to combating poverty, especially for people with disabilities. Dalima Kumari lives with her family in a small village in Bihar. Dalima grew up as an ambitious girl who wanted to work. Her disability was not the only hurdle to cross; being a girl had its challenges. When she wanted to complete her education, she was burdened with household work. When she wanted to be independent, she was bounded by the tie of marriage but, her destiny had something else planned for her. One day, she visited a workshop organized by DEF. She showed her interest in volunteering for the Samarth SoochnaPreneur programme, after listening to the beneficiaries... Read More
Disseminating Information as a source of Income
Being a differently-abled person, he didn’t know which way to go and how to support his family. This story is of Khusiram, a 28-year-old from Alwar, Rajasthan. Kushiram wanted to support his family, but his disability always pulled him back. One day, DEF’s coordinator Shalu Yadav met him and learned about his situation and aspirations. She asked him to enroll for the Samarth SoochnaPreneur programme. After several interactions with the coordinator, Khushiram gained the confidence to take up any task and digital training helped him to start his entrepreneurship journey. Nowadays, he is running a digital center and disseminating information and services to the community people.
Embracing Abilities
Pratap is a true inspiration for people with disabilities and others. Once a school dropout, he now holds a postgraduate degree in Computer Applications. His mother always encouraged him to pursue his studies and build a career. When he was in class 8, he had to leave school. The school infrastructure was ill-equipped and teachers were very demotivating. However, a few years later, he resumed and completed his education successfully. But after completing his studies, he found it difficult to find a suitable job. He was rejected in many job interviews because of his disability; places that accepted him had an inaccessible workstation. Read More
Ensuring the Right to Live
The socioeconomic index of people with disabilities isn’t very encouraging in India, it worsens in case of people from marginalized background. Sudama is an example of that, in the past he faced many hardships, couldn’t find a stable source of income, didn’t have a social status and people always looked at him with pity. Sudama is an educated man, but with no possible job opportunities he started working in a small grocery store. In spite of his disability, he supported his family all through. Asha, one of DEF’s field coordinators met Sudama. Upon hearing about the Samarth SoochnaPreneur program Sudama showed his willingness to be a part of it. Read More
It’s All About Perception
"I’d feel included if others around create such an environment,” says Aftab. This is his story of change. Aftab is from the capital of Jharkhand– Ranchi. He was diagnosed with polio in his childhood and struggles to walk without crutches. Despite the circumstances, he feels blessed to have friends, teachers and family who always support, motivate, and encourage him to overcome the challenges he faces in his daily life. After completing his graduation, he wanted to build a career in Mass Communication. He was not able to make it to the merit list even after his best efforts. He felt his hopes and aspirations disappearing. Aftab waited a year to find a suitable job. Read More
Shaping her own Destiny
Bandana was married off at the age of 18 to an older man; she lost her husband just three years after the marriage. Left with a child to take care of without any financial support; her life came to a sudden stop. With no options left, she tried to find a job, but that too was not easy. In rural areas, jobs for women are very limited and selecting a woman over a man is unusual. Soon all the resources went dry and, there were days when she fed soaked rice to her child and went to sleep on an empty stomach. “Those days were the worst days in my life”, she recalls. Bandana was a bright student and her interest in education earned her a job with an institution registered under Bihar Education Project. Read More
What Confidence Can Unlock is Limitless
She couldn’t walk because of her disability, but this didn’t stop her from standing against all odds. 24-year-old Pappu Kanwar has been using crutches to walk since childhood. Overcoming the social and physical obstacles she completed her graduation in arts with the help of a scholarship. During the COVID-19 Lockdown, she came to know about Samarth SoochnaPreneur program run by Digital Empowerment Foundation and visited the Barmer Digital Center. She saw this as an opportunity to be independent and start something on her own. During the program she learnt using computer, smartphone, internet, government schemes and entitlements and more. Read More
Where There is a Will, There is a Way
Gajo Manusri is a SoochnaPreneur who lives in Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand. Before joining the program, he ran a small grocery shop, earning just enough to cover the family expenses. He wanted his children to study well and thus admitted them into city school. But, paying the high fees was another mountain job. He approached the SSP program team and sought their support. Gajo underwent a two the digital training programme to advance his knowledge and skills. Soon he opened up a centre to provide the digital services to the community, like govt. entitlements, aadhar card, pension scheme, online form filling, printout, photo copy etc. Read More
A guide to the circular economy of digital devices
A guide to the circular economy of digital devices: The Association for Progressive Communication has developed a guide to the circular economy of digital devices. Digital Empowerment Foundation is one of the partners. This guide is divided into 13 modules, and illustrated through case studies. It describes the concepts, processes and some of the major challenges to circularity, summarises the key challenges and opportunities, including for policy advocacy. Read More
Power and Counter Power Around Internet Regulations
Asheef Iqubbal of Research And Advocacy department analyses India’s Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 that aims to regulate user generated content within the context of power between citizen and state. The paper focuses on the anxiety of controlling information flow, accumulation of power through regulations by the state, and emerging counter power around it.
Community Networks: Documenting and Celebrating Wireless Barefoot Engineers
Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) has been working on digital access, governance and information poverty by instrumentalising Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for decades now. Asheef Iqubbal of Research And Advocacy department has compiled the story of multiple barefoot wireless engineers with their perspective that puts light on the necessity of meaningful connectivity in order to bring cultural as well as social changes across the country.
TypeRight Chapter Twenty: Revisit Covid-19 Pandemic and its large impact
COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the existing inequalities of the society in the form of scarcity of food, broken health infrastructure, gender divide and so on. And, this was further confirmed when we at DEF along with US India Policy Institute conducted a social survey across the states of Bihar, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, and Telangana. The findings revealed that 24% people are facing food shortage; 25% people are facing shortage of masks; the coverage of hospitals in rural areas is poor and limited; lacking awareness of the disease itself; extensive usage of ICT tools in disseminating COVID-19 related health information. Read More
TypeRight Chapter Twenty One: Digital War and Peace
When was the last time you heard the word Pegasus? The manner in which human beings consume information, the manner in which news organisations present it and the interests of many powerful stakeholders ensures that some developments in the world are removed from our attention, no matter how important they are for our safety. Pegasus may have vanished from your social media feeds, your newspapers and your TV news channels, but it remains a serious threat that many in the world continue to draw attention to. Even the Israeli company which created the software finds itself compelled to at least pay lip service to the dangers of snooping. Read More
TypeRight Chapter Twenty Two: What goes around comes around
As one looks around herself, the first thing to notice about the immediate surroundings is the number of digital devices. Mobiles have become a necessity and a common device with many people owning multiple devices along with devices like laptops, smart TVs, Pods, video games, earphones and other digital devices. On top of it, all digital companies are in a race to launch newer and better products every year. The consumerism culture has people desiring for the latest device for faster and improved services and thus there is discarding of many digital devices that go unchecked. With all that we have increasing digital waste which is fast becoming a main problem for developing countries like India. Read More

𝐆raam Shakti 2021 - Unlocking Rural India's Potential for Economic Recovery

Job Seeker to Social Entrepreneur

Pappu Kanwar: Digital Entrepreneur Becomes Trainer for Other Entrepreneurs

We are the digital designers fighting information poverty
Twenty or twenty-five years ago, the internet enrolled into our everyday lives, and its primary objective was a tool to make communication more efficient and easy. While that was the primary objective, acknowledging it was not enough. It was important to realise the dependency of life on communication and information sharing rather than the transformation of technology. For example, it is not the food itself that has to travel to fill stomachs, but it is the information of availability of food that can be accessed with ease. Read More
The Digital Stories of Fishermen Community of Chirala

Chirala is a municipal town in Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh. Chirala is driven by the word Chir which means saree as Chirala is a hub of large textile and handloom weaving clusters where cotton silk sarees are weaved; mostly driven and influenced by the Ikat designs of Pochampally. Chirala earlier used to be known as Kshirapuri and nicknamed as mini Mumbai or Chinna Bombay. It is a coastal town with beautiful beaches attracting tourists from Hyderabad, Vijayawada and Ongole to its two famous beaches called Vadarevu Beach and Ramapuram Beach. At Vadarevu Beach there is a big fishermen’s village of about 2000 fishermen, mostly Christian. They are poor, active, busy, and happy. Read More

Donate for Digital Daan
Subscribe to our mailing list

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. |