SoochnaPreneur: A Women Social Entrepreneurship Model

“Before I became a SoochnaPreneur (Information Entrepreneur) and associated myself with DEF, ‘independence’ was just a concept to me, not a reality. Today I can say confidently that it provides me with a steady source of income that has sustained my family through the pandemic.” Read More


Digital Artisans of India Launching on Women's Day
While “pandemic” has been the buzz word since 2019, as a coping mechanism and a consequence, “digital” is the new way and sometimes the only way. Although the country is still on its journey to reach cent percent literacy rate, digital inclusion of people from different backgrounds is paramount in avoiding widening of the social and professional gaps. Cut off from the market dynamics, many artisans of India have faced the brunt of the consequences of the pandemic which has pushed them to welcome digital intervention with open arms out of necessity. As these artisans seek platforms and ways to work digitally, Digital Empowerment Foundation is launching Digital Artisans of India (DAI) with the support of the cohort of artisans from clusters set up by Digikargha to cater to this need. Read More

Digital Empowerment Foundation's teams on the ground informed the head office about some women in their communities who had been pushed to poverty as they had no one to support them and they themselves weren't able to find a stable source of income. The obvious answer was to digitally train them and provide them with digital tools so that they can serve their communities and earn a livelihood however, this didn't seem to be possible as the women were on the brink of going hungry and we needed to provide them immediate relief. Seeing no other option DEF decided to support them to become entrepreneurs though for the first time not digital entrepreneurs but just general store owners who could earn a stable income. The initial investment for a general store was made by DEF and since then these women have been running the store and earning an income every month. The plan is to digitally train them in the future so that they can improve their business even further.

Anisul Bano
Anisul Bano is a 62-year-old widow who has two daughters- one of them is married while the other lives with her. Her family is financially backward and doesn’t have anyone to support them. Her daughter does some tailoring work to earn some money and is in contact with DEF’s SoochnaPreneur Jamirul Nisha who runs a digitally equipped center in her village Mushki Nagar. Jamirul came to know about the dire situation of Anisul’s family and informed the district coordinator. DEF’s ground team in Barabanki visited Anisul and spoke to her about helping her start a small shop that would sustain her. Anisul was very happy and said she would do her best to continue running the shop successfully. DEF’s team bought items worth 7,000 rupees and set up a small shop for her. Read More
Sabira Khatoon
Sabira Khatoon is a 54-year-old from the village of Durjanpur Patti in Barabanki district of Uttar Pradesh. Her husband Saleem used to run a small general store in the village; unfortunately in an accident the shop caught fire and her husband and 12-year-old son were seriously injured. Sabira couldn’t afford to take her husband to a big hospital so she visited DEF’s health center in Mailaraiganj village. Her husband and son were provided treatment but her husband is still not capable of working. Sabira told one of DEF’s SoochnaPreneur (Information Entrepreneur) about this. SoochnaPreneur Eram Khatoon informed the district coordinator and the team in the district went to meet Sabira to find out what could be done for them. Read More
Rashida Bano
Rashida Bano’s husband divorced her and left her while her son was only 4 years old. Now Rashida Bano is staying with her Mother at her house in Saidanpur. She is extremely poor; in fact she has had to send her minor son to work as a laborer while she has been working as a cook in some people’s houses in the village. DEF’s team in Barabanki identified the need and started working towards empowering her. While DEF usually works through digital means, in this case Rashida needed immediate relief that would sustain her in the long run as well. It was decided that DEF would invest some money to open a shop for her, that way she would immediately start earning money and could further invest in the shop to buy more things and keep it running. Read More
Asha Devi
Asha Devi is a 57-year-old widow who doesn’t have any children. She doesn’t have anyone else in the family. She stays in her husband’s house that he had built before he passed away 17 years ago. The house is not in a good condition. Digital Empowerment Foundation supported her in renovating the house and then setting up a general store there as well. Asha Devi is a cook in a government school but her income was not enough for her to survive. The general store which she started with DEF’s support is now her main source of income. Before opening the shop, Asha’s house was in very bad condition. We painted her house and the room where she stored items from the general store. The size of her shop is 150 square feet. Read More
Shahar Bano
Asha Devi is a 57-year-old widow who doesn’t have any children. She doesn’t have anyone else in the family. She stays in her husband’s house that he had built before he passed away 17 years ago. The house is not in a good condition. Digital Empowerment Foundation supported her in renovating the house and then setting up a general store there as well. Asha Devi is a cook in a government school but her income was not enough for her to survive. The general store which she started with DEF’s support is now her main source of income. Before opening the shop, Asha’s house was in very bad condition. We painted her house and the room where she stored items from the general store. The size of her shop is 150 square feet. Read More

These are the daily happenings of how digital interventions are holistically impacting the lives of people in rural parts of the country.

Digital Foot Soldiers Spreading Awareness About Internet Safety
The internet is an incredibly powerful tool and its importance in today’s world cannot be exaggerated. Information about all the topics we can think of exists on the internet. However, not all that information can always be trusted. Along with verified and credible data, there also simultaneously exists fake news and misinformation which, when consumed or spread, can be disastrous and potentially dangerous. Free and accessible as the web might be, it also comes with issues of privacy and cyber security. Those who have access to the internet but are unaware of digital literacy are particularly susceptible to the dangers of the internet. They are more likely to unwittingly disclose sensitive personal information, forward provocative WhatsApp messages, share unverified Facebook posts, etc. Read More
Providing Access
Mala Khatun belongs to the district of Murshidabad, West Bengal. She belongs to a financially backward family and she has had low vision since her birth. Life for her has always come with obstacles attached to her disability. However, her undying spirit to overcome all her difficulties has made her a strong individual. She always wanted to financially support her family but was not aware of the ways from where she could support them. To her luck, she was introduced to the power of digital literacy and the benefits through a campaign organized by the Digital Empowerment Foundation. Therefore, she enrolled herself in the digital literacy course offered by Digital Empowerment Foundation, where she learned about digital literacy. Read More
Achieving Financial Freedom
Marijina Khatun hails from a small village in Murshidabad district, West Bengal. Even though she has always wanted to support her husband who is a daily wage worker, she could not find anything suitable due to her disability. During one of the program interventions by the Digital Empowerment Foundation in her community, she came into contact with one of the DEF coordinators, where she shared how her family is struggling to make ends meet. The coordinator then enrolled her in DEF’s digital literacy program, where she learned about various digital tools. After successful training, she became a Samarth Soochnaprenuer and now runs her own digital centre in her locality. Read More
Career Counselling Camp in Kaithwalya Centre
We organised a Career Counselling Camp at our Kaithwalya Hub Centre on February 26, 2022. More than hundred high schoolers and middle schoolers attended the session and there was a fair representation of female students amongst them. Along with giving the students advice on career prospects and academic scope of the subjects they might choose to study, we also tried to motivate the students appearing for UP Board exams by giving them pep-talks and familiarising them with the test modules. Local school Principal Mr Ashish Pandey and Dr Vinod Yadav were present at the session as counsellors and the students approached them with myriad questions about their aims and career aspirations. Read More
Providing the Platform to Dream
Ankitha is a class 10 student of a government school in Allipur village, Telangana. DEF’s STEM for girls programme was initiated in her school a few years ago. Ankitha was unclear about her career path before the program. She had no idea about the career options in the field of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). The aim of the program is to motivate girls to pursue higher education in the field of STEM. STEM sessions are held twice a week in her school and they have really helped her. She said “earlier I was scared of talking to people, but now my communication skills have improved, I know how to talk to people and my stage fear is also gone now.” Read More
Smartpur: Establishing Access Points Across India
Ms. Kavitha, resident of a Cowdalli centre, Kollegal is jovial beyond limits to find a centre of Smartpur in her vicinity. Kavitha is a college going student who resides in Cowdalli village in Karnataka. She needed access to digital tools to apply for various competitive exams and scholarship schemes. It was the last day for applying for a scholarship scheme and there was an error in her Aadhar Card. The situation on her part got worse because there was no digital centre near her house that could edit the aadhar card. She planned to travel to the town of Hanur, 16 kilometers away from her village. The transportation charges were another issue, as it would cost her 350-400 rupees for one journey. Read More
Arun Kumar: Digital COVID Warrior & Social Worker
“These kids don’t have access to digital devices, I have been trying to support these 8 families here by raising funds with my friends to distribute food to them every couple of weeks but I don’t know how to support them in their education” said a 24-year-old Arun Kumar. It was heartening to see the effort he was putting to support a group of families who are facing political, social and economic exclusion due to their nature of work. Arun joined the UNICEF-supported “Risk Communication & Community Engagement” (RCCE) program of DEF in September 2021 and he has been working regularly on spreading awareness about COVID-19 and how to stay safe. Arun has been visiting this group of families who belong to a gypsy community of Tamil Nadu. Read More
COVID Warriors in Uttar Pradesh
At the onset of the pandemic in 2020, nobody could have foreseen how long it would last, how quickly it would spread, and how many lives it would claim. Two years have passed and in 2022, we are now witnessing the third wave due to the Omicron variant. The spread of the virus is so absolute that no one is assured protection. In such a scenario, being careful is no longer enough. One must also be aware. Therefore, the Delhi-based Digital Empowerment Foundation is working tirelessly in around 18 states where volunteers are going door to door to equip people with the right information about the virus. Their efforts, undertaken at great risk to themselves, have resulted in more than 5 million people becoming aware of the severity of the pandemic. Read More
Ramadevi: A COVID Warrior
Early that morning around 8 am we started from Pondicherry to visit our RCCE (Risk Communication Community Engagement) volunteers in Chennai. As we didn’t know the exact location, Sindhu DEF’s local coordinator helped us reach there. We met Ramadevi as she mobilized people to come; she made some calls and told them “yes yes the meeting is now, please come.” She was confident, energetic and knew exactly what she was doing. We observed as she conducted a community meeting with some people from the locality. Most of them were elderly, and they maintained distance, wore masks and at Ramadevi’s request also sanitised their hands. Read More
Covid Vaccination under Mission Corona Vijay Campaign undertaken
This report presents the campaign taken up by the SMARTPUR team in Nuh from the Tain Hub Centre. This campaign aimed to support the Government efforts of COVID-19 vaccination among the people of Nuh.The campaign was run by American India Foundation and Common Service Centre. SMARTPUR team has a good hold in the community and hence they were successful in this campaign. The team worked closely with the District Collector’s office and acted as a catalyst to speed up the vaccination process. The SMARTPUR team also managed to generate income from this vaccination drive, an amount of 170 rs. per dose was provided to the team. Read More
Governance & Finance Awareness Camps in Ghazipur, Uttar Pradesh
Since the establishment of a DEF Centre at Vikrampur two years ago, we have worked tirelessly to organise activities and drives that help us remain true to the vision of ‘Smartpur’. Many noteworthy activities have transpired in the past and, with our most recent events, we are determined in our efforts to carry the endeavour forward. On 17th February 2022, Vikrampur Hub Centre organised a governance camp where two retired government doctors, Dr Jagat Narayan Singh and Dr Mukhtar Singh, informed the attendees about various government schemes that they could avail. This session was attended by thirty-two of the most senior inhabitants of the village, among others. Read More
Sonia; a Digital Entrepreneur in a Weaver’s Cluster
Sonia runs a Community Information Resource Center (CIRC) in Vitchanthangal village, Kanchipuram district. She helps her customers gain access to online services like government documents, pan card, aadhaar card, lamination work and aadhar linked payments. She also takes computer classes for students of her village. She works the whole week and even during the various lockdowns she helped people with emergency registration work. Sonia receives about 20 to 30 customers per day and she doesn’t believe in fixing prices for her services as some people can afford them and others can’t so she adjusts the price in accordance to her customer, sometimes even does it for free. Read More
The Blessing Gypsies of Chennai
It is not uncommon to associate big cities with the ideas of ever increasing employment opportunities and a sense of freedom that the young seek and a notion of security and comfort sought by the old. One such city, Chennai, welcomes you with its busy commercial streets, high raised buildings, restaurants to cater to every kind of taste palate and crowded roads decked with so many street lights that one could easily conclude that the city never sleeps. Traveling around the city, if one ends up on the small streets of Ayapakkam, they are in for a surprise as they see a small community of 40 people have been living on a public piece of land for half a century. Read More
Voter Awareness in Barabanki
The 2022 Legislative Assembly Elections are underway in Uttar Pradesh and they are being held in seven phases. After the completion of the first four phases, voting in the fifth phase was scheduled for February 27, 2022, in the Awadh region that includes Barabanki. In this political climate, DEF’s Digital Foot soldiers visited many villages to urge the members of the community to cast their vote. The locals were given detailed descriptions of the process and were made aware of the importance of voting for the development of their state. We designed posters and took them along with us to thirty villages; the idea was to instil curiosity amongst the villagers. Read More
The Journey from "connecting all" to #DeleteFacebook
In 2014, Mark Zuckerberg was travelling to different parts of the world and was intentionally visiting remote locations to find out what connectivity means to people. He visited our digital centre in the same endeavour. The background of his plan to visit our rural digital resource centre located in Chandauli in Alwar was hectic, tedious, complicated and stressful; on many occasions, it seemed like it was not worth getting so much attention. However deep and impactful the work you are doing, if there is a visit of any VIP, then the whole idea of showcasing the natural ecosystem goes for a toss - everything becomes an event. Read More
Budgets, Inclusion and the Digital
Internet is not a safe place. It is toxic, full of hate, and social media consumes the consumers more than the latter can consume Internet. That makes celebrating "Safer Internet Day" important on February 8th. We spent the whole day connecting with our thousands of digital foot soldiers spread across 24 states of India located in rural geographies and had discussions about the importance of safe internet. But it is the masses of India who are also curious to know what the government of India announced in this year's budget and what role digital had to play in the annual budget of India. So, this issue of TypeRight is dedicated to digital context of Indian citizens vis-a-vis the budget. Read More
Love, Hate and Freedom
On February 14th, the world celebrates a day marked for spreading love. All the longstanding political positions on the commercialised nature of Valentine’s Day aside, any celebration of the day in India has, for several years, been marred by several incidents of violence, hate, and even attempts at further communal polarisation. While it must be noted that there have been events and attempts to use the day to spread messages against violence on women: - or on questioning how India sees the day beyond a usual heteronormative lens- - however, for most parts, what India has seen was violence and policing: However, this year, there are reports from Hyderabad and Chandigarh of the cities deploying more police to prevent mob moral policing. Read More

This month we have produced the following two videos. One of them is about a campaign that DEF’s 1,000 SoochnaPreneurs conducted across India to make people more aware about being safe online and knowing about the evils of fake news and misinformation. This was done on the occasion of Safer Internet Day. The second video is a Thank You message from DEF’s students who received online education from Accenture’s volunteers.

Safer Internet Day!

Thank You Accenture!

Nothing spurs innovation and productivity like the need to confront a global pandemic and geopolitical shifts all at the same time. Technology may be the most important connective tissue that links the financial world’s power and influence to the inclusive aspirations of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). How can we ensure that no adult or child is left behind in this increasingly digital and data-driven world? Read More

Apart from guarding the line of control, Indian army in remote areas of Kashmir has taken up a nobel task these days - to connect new generation with rest of world, so that tomorrow they have a brighter future. Apart from guarding the line of control, Indian army in remote areas of Kashmir has taken up a nobel task these days - to connect new generation with rest of world, 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. |