eNGOGreen PrakriyaNeerjaaleHeritage ProjectDigital Cluster Development ProgrammeSoochnapreneur

Converting grassroots civil society organisations into validated entities with a global online presence, showcasing their accomplishments globally and boosting fund raising through digital means

eNGO, a flagship programme of Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) in partnership with Public Interest (PIR), aims to digitally empower the grassroots organisations by accrediting them with ICT tools across South Asia and Africa.

Since its inception in 2009, eNGO has digitally enabled more than 5,000 NGOs by taking them online through their exclusive websites with .org or .ngo domains.

Over the years, eNGO has efficiently made its mark by bringing diversified entities under one umbrella. In 2015, PIR, owner of the .org domain, unfolded the .ngo domain among other top level domains to create global validated digital identities, specifically for NGOs.

The .ngo domain provides an exclusive extension to NGOs and gives them a specific platform for validation. eNGO has taken a step forward in this new beginning of what is turning to be an evolution for NGOs by elevating their online presence and visibility. Additionally, eNGO offers exclusive .ngo domain to all verified NGOs of India, supported by OnGood Global Directory, the largest database of legally recognized and validated NGOs worldwide.

The objectives of the eNGO programme are
• To establish validated digital identities of the grassroots organisations
• To help them in maintaining their online presence
• To train NGOs, SHGs, CSOs, CBOs with digital tools
• To assist organisations in leveraging online donation to raise funds
• To increase the global outreach of grassroots contents produced by NGOs

Over the years, 130 ICT capacity building workshops have been conducted across South Asia and Africa; over 15,000 eNGO members have registered with the eNGO Network; 5,000 NGOs have been given an online; 4,000 NGOs have been trained in using digital tools for efficiency and empowerment

With its presence in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Bhutan, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, Cambodia, the eNGO has also launched NGONAMA, an online content and information repository of grassroots stories produced and published by NGOs.

Website: www.pirengo.org, www.ngonama.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


Contact Details


Sachin Ralhan
sachin.ralhan@defindia.net

Creating a knowledge eco-web of how information and communication technologies can play an instrumental role in empowering a sustainable habitat

Green Prakriya was a one-time project that established a functional and dynamic platform to initiate a continuous process of learning, sharing and collaboration among all stakeholders towards empowering a sustainable habitat.

It was an integration of all efforts towards the attainment of the goal of Green India and practicing optimal utilisation of the given natural resources as envisaged the Prime Minister’s National Action Plan for the Climate Change. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have had their share in being the victim, villain and hero in climate change and environmental sustainability. Advancements in technology over the years have brought about a tide of information influx and technology gadget era. However, this growth has also brought about its share of concerns towards the ecosystem.

An initiative of Digital Empowerment Foundation, Green Prakriya was envisioned to create a multi-stakeholder eco-web that would act as compendium of green ICT knowledge base for practitioners, policy advocates, policy makers, researchers, professionals and the masses:

• To tackle lack of information amongst various stakeholders in this sphere
• To facilitate communication for citizen monitoring and awareness of environment issues
• To encourage multi-stakeholder collaboration for building relationship between ICTs and environment
• To fuel the ongoing momentum of various ICT and environment mapping exercise
• To create a rich knowledge base of technology solutions for addressing environment issues
• To conduct awareness and outreach programmes through seminars and workshops
• To track and monitors the growth of technology waste in the society

Website: http://greenp.engo.in/


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


Contact Details


Sachin Ralhan
sachin.ralhan@defindia.net

Empowering communities to collect and share information about water resources in their vicinity

Neerjaal, initiated by the Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) and the Social Work Resource Centre (SWRC), in 2009, is a web-based water quality mapping tool that seeks to create a water management portal for grassroots communities.

The core aim of the project is to empower communities to collect information about water resources in their vicinity, create & share reports and to make informed decisions for water management. Another focus area of the project is to spread awareness about health and environment related issues; since effective water conservation and management have a strong positive correlation with those issues, as evidenced by the targets within the MDGs and SDGs.

The project was initiated in the Silora block of Ajmer district, Rajasthan in 2009. There were 16 villages covered under this project in first phase. Neerjaal has since expanded and is running in four blocks — three (Jawaja, Silora, Sri Nagar) in Ajmer and one (Dudu) in Jaipur. It has expanded to cover 150 villages and over 1100 distinct water sources as of now; hand-pumps, wells and tanks (circular and rectangular).The first activity in the rollout of the project was to map all the water sources in a geographical region that communities access: hand-pumps, wells and tanks. This was a participatory process with all members of the community aiding in the identification, mapping and codification of water sources.

Using portable water testing kits, communities then test water sources on a regular basis. The results of the test as passed onto the field centre representative who then transcribes the raw data onto an online reporting and documentation portal. The main centres for this project are in Tilonia, Chhota Narena, Kadampura, Brijpura, Kotri, Bhirawata and Jawaja.

The parameters that are in excess of the standards laid down in the Indian Standards of Drinking Water created by the Bureau of Indian Standards are identified and then an assessment of the quality of water formulated and attached to the water source.

The field centre representative also aids in the creation of a qualitative report that is available for the communities and is forwarded to local government officials, politicians and policy makers. The project incorporates strong online and offline components that aid the community to have strong evidence-based information about water quality in their region and allows them to make well-informed decisions on water resource management.

The future plans for the project include creating a mobile app to make it even more accessible to grassroots communities, and to generate graphical and customised reports, besides map-based reporting.

Website: www.neerjaal.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


Contact Details


Rajat Kumar
rajat.kumar@defindia.net

Preserving and promoting culture and heritage using digital tools through the involvement of communities, and helping living heritage become vibrant and integral

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 real heritage, making it accessible to all for the sake of posterity. This is all the more important because often those living around such sites of heritage and cultural importance are unaware of its significance and even its name.

Since most heritage sites are not featured online, the e-Heritage Project seeks to collaborate with communities to bring heritage and oral history into the digital space with the following objectives.

• 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
• Utilise the Internet as an information platform for public education about the Indian heritage

In an endeavour to achieve the same, Digital Empowerment Foundation in partnership with UNESCO India has launched two pilot websites for Shahjahanabad and Chanderi to digitally enhance their heritage and showcase the potential of the areas through rich text, beautiful photographs and interesting videos.

Shahjahanabad: In 1600s, when Emperor Shah Jahan decided to shift the Mughal capital from Agra, he decided to build a walled city on the banks of Yamuna. Today, we know that city as Old Delhi or Purani Dilli. So far, the studies on the history of Old Delhi and the Mughal empires have been conducted mostly by academics or travellers, with minimal participation of the local communities. The e-Heritage Project aims to involve the local community in documenting the heritage and oral history of Shahjahanabad. For the same, we host an annual fellowship for youngsters from Old Delhi and heritage enthusiasts from New Delhi to carry out research on various topics that included havelis, koochas, katras, markets, festivals, culture, personalities and cuisines, among others, with significant reference to the Mughal era and the revolt of 1847. As part of the research, team DEF also regularly organises various events and activities in Old Delhi to involve the community, besides video interviewing residents, researchers and observers of Old Delhi.

Chanderi: Located in Madhya Pradesh, the town of Chanderi encompasses within itself several layers of cultural efflorescence. Divided into outer and inner sections, the town is composed of a labyrinth of lanes, full of archaeological remains, both religious and secular, beckoning one to unravel the realms of the historical fabric that envelops it. The e-Heritage Project was started in Chanderi in 2013 to give digital presence to the many monuments in the town by documenting the stories behind them and publishing the same on an exclusive website. This online visibility of the heritage of Chanderi played a key role in the decision of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to undertake the preservation and protection responsibilities of 40 monuments in Chanderi. A boom in tourism can also be credited to the e-Heritage Project in Chanderi.

Websites: www.olddelhiheritage.in, www.chanderiheritage.in


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


Contact Details


Udita Chaturvedi
udita@defindia.org

Villages of India Network Pvt. Ltd

Facilitating Internet connectivity to underserved villages through low-cost wireless network

Villages of India Network Pvt. Ltd. (VOIN) is a social enterprise that is facilitating Internet connectivity services to connect many under-served villages using the low-cost wireless network. The project runs on a community-based approach, providing services on the basis of user demand and need with qualitative customer-care service.

VOIN facilitates customised Internet service plans to wide range of users from single users, business enterprises, micro, small and medium enterprises and institutions, among others, on the basis of their needs. It also facilitates wireless set-up and management training programmes, digital literacy programmes and other entrepreneurship programmes to create local entrepreneurs.

Under this project, the objectives include:

• To develop and refine viable technological solutions for affordable rural network infrastructure
• To set-up, install, manage, build and provide infrastructure for internet access
• To create a network of local entrepreneurs for community driven distributed rural networks
• To create business models that boosts local entrepreneurship and shared enterprises of community empowering networks
• Providing training on wireless technology, set-up and management of wireless infrastructure to manage the wireless network
• To provide wireless network set-up, management training, digital literacy skills and other entrepreneurship training programmes so that community members can access internet connectivity for their livelihoods and daily activity
• To conduct user community workshops on usage of wireless network and services
• To carry out research and development with a focus on community networks and technological solution suitable for rural areas

So far, VOIN has helped establish and provide wireless connectivity services in more than 40 locations; establish, manage and provide troubleshooting services in more than 20 locations; train and skill 20 community members and transformed them as barefoot engineer; and provide Internet services to more than 500 institutions (PHCs, NGOs, schools, anganwadi centres and individuals).

Website: http://voin.in


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


Contact Details


Shahid Ahmed
shahid@defindia.net

Introducing inclusive and decentralised use of ICT and other digital tools in critical aspects of handloom cluster development in an effort to improve and scale up weaving skills, designs, marketing and entrepreneurship, besides creating sustainable livelihood options for the youth

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, Digital Empowerment Foundation in partnership with various government bodies and CSR groups has initiated Digital Cluster Development Programme, which primarily involves inclusive and decentralised use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) and other digital tools in critical aspects of handloom cluster development, especially improving and scaling up weaving skills, designs, marketing and entrepreneurship, besides creating sustainable livelihood options for the youth in the clusters. The development focus of the model allows us to integrate both the social and economic capital needs of the targeted artisan communities towards inclusive growth.

Adoption of the following handloom clusters provides easy access for decision makers and policy makers to have a look at the changes that have taken place or would take place as a result of the digital interventions.

Chanderi: Located in the Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh, Chanderi is rich in heritage, culture, tradition and art. At present, there are about 4,500 weaver families in Chanderi, which has a population of approximately 40,000. However, the brand Chanderi was facing a stiff competition from powerlooms that were manufacturing fake Chanderi sarees until project ‘Chanderiyaan’ was launched by DEF in partnership with the Ministry of Information Technology in 2009. From being worth Rs 65 crore in 2010, the Chanderi handloom industry has grown over the last five years to be worth over Rs 150 core today. Today, average household incomes have more than tripled due to various consequences of ICT intervention (it has gone up to Rs 7,500 from Rs 2,500). Almost all weaver families have at least one digitally literate person in the household; weavers, especially the younger generation, are now using CAD/CAM software to develop new, more accurate designs based on modern aesthetics to appeal to the sensibilities of the upmarket global and domestic customers. A variety of ICT-enabled training programmes have helped people in the community learn new vocational skills relevant to the learner's environment as well as English language skills. Tourism has been promoted as another revenue earning stream by digitally documenting the many historical monuments in the area, apart from the stories of art and craft. All 13 schools in the area now have computer labs using Wi-Fi connections and the town even has a Wi-Fi enabled health centre that is linked to the Ashoknagar District Hospital through telemedicine facilities.

Barpali: In 2015, the success of Chanderiyaan encouraged several CSR groups to adopt handloom clusters in partnership with DEF. Located 340 kilometres north-west of Bhubaneswar, Barpali is a densely populated block in Bargarh district of Odisha. In Barpali, there are more than 2,000 handlooms spread across several pockets of clusters, each at a distance of five kilometres from the other. Weavers in this part of Odisha are known for their original ikat prints on cotton and Tasar silk. However, machine-aided printing is damaging the market for handloom products as the former can be produced in minutes and costs much less. Project DigiKala, initiated in partnership with Microsoft Corporate Citizenship, is trying to change that.

Nuapatna: Another cluster adopted in partnership with Microsoft in India is a cluster of most talented weavers and national awardees. Nupatna is located in Cuttack district of Odisha, about 70 kilometres from Bhubaneswar. It is home to more than 5,000 weavers who make the most intricate tie-and-dye ikat designs using mostly natural dye on sarees, stoles and dupattas. However, lack of awareness and lack of direct access to the market has restricted the household income of weavers at Rs.1,500-3,000 only. Besides, the numerous cooperative societies established in Nuapatna have failed to have a desired impact. Project DigiKala hopes to change the scenario.

Barabanki: Saidanpur village Barabanki district of Uttar Pradesh specialises in zari and applique cut-work on sarees, scarves and shawls, among other products. Barabanki and its adjoining area is home to around 50,000 weavers and 20,000 looms. Most of these weavers have not completed school, and live in joint families where almost every member is involved in the process of weaving. These weavers receive wages from middlemen and master weavers, and their average daily income is less than Rs. 100. Project Baank-e-Loom, initiated in partnership with Ericsson India, aims to improve the livelihood of these weavers.

Tiruchirappalli: Five kilometres from Tiruchirappalli (or Trichy) is Musiri panchayat town. There are more than 5,000 weavers in this area but more than half the weavers have shifted to powerlooms. Those who could not afford powerlooms are struggling, witnessing a slow death of their skills. While powerloom weavers earn about Rs. 65 per saree, and make five sarees a day. However, the weavers who make sarees on handlooms earn anywhere between Rs.700 to Rs.900 per saree but it takes one person about three days to weave a saree. mPhasis and DEF are trying to bridge this divide and improve the livelihood of weavers in the area.

The objectives of project include:

• Technological enablement of artisans to bridge the digital divide
• Preservation of traditional designs while incorporating contemporary elements
• Creation of one design cluster resource centre, which will be equipped with computers, hardware, design software and training facilities
• Setting up of one design library as a repository of traditional and new designs
• Training of youth as ‘Core Master Digital Designers’ for providing design services as entrepreneurs to weavers
• Creation of self-help groups for the weaver community
• Provide digital literacy to locals for increased knowledge and employability
• Train locals to turn into digital entrepreneurs
• Ensure benefits to locals through access to government entitlements and other government to citizen services
• Focus on primary skill development of cluster occupants to enhance their employability, livelihood, income and living conditions
• Capacity building and tertiary skill development to encourage entrepreneurship and self-sustainability of cluster members
• English speaking training and skill will be imparted to youth

Website: www.chanderiyaan.net, www.digikala.net.in


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


Contact Details


Dr. Shahid Siddiqui
siddiqui@defindia.net

Strengthening the poor information ecosystem in rural communities in India especially in the backward districts that has alienated a majority of India’s population from social and economic entitlement gains.

‘Information’ is the most dynamic tool, which propels empowerment of the underserved sections of the society. It is a great enabler for the educated as well as the illiterate. For many, Internet is the biggest junkyard of information. Yet, for many, the junkyard is a source of empowerment. Invariably, dearth of information is observed as a hindrance to the participation rate of people in any of the development intervention at village level.

One of the most important government schemes to be ushered in recent past is Mahatma Gandhi rural employment guarantee act or more commonly known as MGNREGA. This act aims to increase socio-economic status of our country by providing employment opportunities to rural people for 100 days whether or not they are below poverty line or are skilled or un-skilled. Despite having its objectives and motives at the right place, the success rate of this scheme remains a highly debatable discussion. The age old problem related to lack of awareness and misuse of money for developmental purposes makes this discussion against MGNREGA. MGNREGA is just an example, lack of awareness and misuse of funds for development plagues every other scheme introduced in our country. Worst affected are real people in real need.

So, why do such problems arise? What is the missing link? The answer is pretty simple, its information dissemination or lack of information or information gap. It’s the basic problem of breakage of information flow between the sender and receiver.

Hence it is imperative to say that there is an urgent need to serve the community with tantamount of information they are entitled to. And this can be only achieved by strengthening and democratising the environment of public schemes information dissemination, services and final entitlement gains for focused groups and beneficiaries. Institutionalising the role of information agents can clear such clog of corruption and exploitation at various levels. Integrating a sustained model of social entrepreneurship at grassroots can really help in systematize the representation of information service providers.

For the smooth flow of information, Soochnapreneur is an initiative introduced by Soochna Seva; where selected personnel from rural areas will be trained with necessary information and technology, so that he or she can make them available to the needful mainly from rural areas. Their prime responsibility is to make information regarding various schemes and benefits available to the needy; in return they are expected to charge a nominal amount to sustain their livelihood.  This is an initiative which will hone and incubate entrepreneurial abilities and qualities of an Information entrepreneur.

We believe Soochnapreneurs are the necessary information agents to bridge the gap and make information available to the rural to most rural areas.

Website: soochnapreneur.in


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


Contact Details


Deepshikha Sharma
deepshikha.sharma@defindia.org