On April 14, 2018, DEF in collaboration with Qualcomm took its SoochnaPreneur initiative to Barabanki district of Uttar Pradesh. The Barabanki leg of the initiative was launched amid much celebrations in Saidanpur village, where 25 newly inducted all-women SoochnaPreneurs had gathered in the presence of DEF Founder-Director Osama Manzar, FLO chairperson of Lucknow Chapter Jyotsana Habibullah, businessman Amar Habibullah, Gram Pradhan Rajesh Kumar Verma and others. On this occasion, the SoochnaPreneurs were handed over a tablet and printer each so that they could kickstart the information services they have to deliver in their communities.
On Day 2, the women SoochnaPreneurs were trained in using MeraApp that comes preinstalled on the tablets given to them. Developed using cutting edge technology, the Android-based app provides rural India’s vulnerable population with a catalogue of welfare schemes, with comprehensive information on entitlements, in an effort to empower them with access to rights and benefits. Users, assisted by Soochnapreneurs (Information + Entrepreneurs), can either view the information categorised by provinces and welfare area or enter their socio-economic details to allow the app to display a list of schemes that suits the information fed into it. Soochnapreneur is a rural entrepreneurship-based project initiated by DEF in partnership with Qualcomm and EU to empower the youth in the villages of India to sustain their livelihood by providing information to those living in information darkness. A multilingual app that runs on online and offline modes, MeraApp has been envisioned as a platform to empower rural and remote populations with access to information and bring them closer to their rightful entitlements, thus bridging the digital divide and encouraging social and financial inclusion. Further, the app also allows users to submit grievances directed at various government portals and track the status of the complaint. Mera app is medium to get one step closer to the last mile beneficiary and reduce rural poverty. The application is designed to increase and improve the access, delivery and quality of public schemes and services aimed at social and financial exclusion, mainly by bridging the gap between community rights and entitlements and state responsiveness to them successfully through timely information and channels. In its second phase later this year, the app will be made available in a third, regional language and a larger group of rural entrepreneurs will be trained in using the app.