Aiming to build on their mission to improve digital literacy amongst women in rural India, Google India and Tata Trusts announced a new sustainable framework that would establish an entrepreneurship movement in rural India.
Under the new initiative, Google will jointly work with the Foundation For Rural Entrepreneurship Development (Frend) — set up by Tata Trusts as an extension of the Internet Saathi programme, which imparts digital literacy to millions of rural women. Frend would create digitally enabled livelihood opportunities for the Internet Saathis.
“In spite of the socio-economic challenges, thousands of Internet Saathis have gone on to do amazing things,” Sapna Chadha, Marketing Head (South-East Asia and India) at Google said in a statement. “This winning spirit inspired us to create a new sustainable framework with Tata Trusts, that aims to deliver employment opportunities to Internet Saathis,” Chadha said.
Through the Foundation, companies and institutions would utilise the Internet Saathi network to disseminate information and services in the rural areas, thus creating newer avenues of income for these women in rural India. Over 12,000 Internet Saathis across India have voluntarily signed up to take up projects in their villages as part of this next phase of Internet Saathi programme, the statement said.
“We are happy that several organisations have already tested the strength of this platform. We are confident that with Google we are establishing a very large entrepreneurship movement in rural India,” Chadha said.
“Given the progressive penetration of Internet Saathi programme, it was only natural for us to bring income generating opportunities to these women so that they become self-dependant and further encourage women in their communities to emulate them,” added Raman Kalyanakrishnan, Head (Strategy) at Tata Trusts.
Launched in 2015, the Internet Saathi programme aims to expand to cover 300,000 villages across India and enable women across villages to benefit from the Internet. The programme has been successfully rolled out to 12 states benefiting over 12 million women across rural India.
Over 30,000 Internet Saathis, armed with smartphones and tablets, are now working across 110,000 villages helping women in their own and in neighbouring villages to learn how to use and gain from the full potential of the Internet, the statement said.