Developing Digital Civilizations

Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) from 2002, has been working to bring unreached and underserved communities of India out of digital darkness. DEF, an 18 year old organisation, celebrates digital innovation through institutionalised awards like Manthan Awards, mBillionth Awards and eNGO Challenge Awards since 2005. This year, DEF organised 'Digital Innovation Fest' a merger of 10th mBillionth Awards and 6th eNGO Challenge Awards to honour mobile app innovators and digital civil society entrepreneurs across South Asia. The event was held at Eros Hotel, New Delhi on February 1, 2020. Read More

NGO’s NRC-related work recognised
Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), a pan-India NGO, has won the eNGO Challenge 2019-2020 for extending help and support to the people of Assam during the NRC process. The Mumbai-based NGO, headed by activist Teesta Setalvad, through its voluntary ground-level work reached out to about 10 lakh underprivileged people left out of the National Register of Citizens... Read More
Use tech for empowerment, not hate: messages and insights from the 10th mBillionth Digital Awards
Hosted by the Digital Empowerment Foundation, over 110 nominations across South Asia... Read More
Digital transformation: how civil society organisations are improving social impact
Hosted by the Digital Empowerment Foundation, over 159 nominations across South Asia... Read More
Educational intervention heralds a new era of girls’ empowerment in Rajasthan
Modestly attired Rukmina of Bidarka village is the proud recipient of an award given by the Kishangarh...Read More

Digital Literacy helping pave the way for strong aspirations
A 10th standard student , Armaan studies in Government Boys Senior Secondary school and works as a compounder in Royalty path lab in Ghazipur. At the path lab he learns and creates reports of the tests. For the same, computer literacy has proved to be an added advantage in making test reports accurately to an extent that now he guides his fellow colleagues as well. “Working at labs give me hands on experience in medicine at a pathology which will help in my higher education. I wnt to be an inspiring figure for my two siblings.”
Enabling access in the National Capital
At the newly inaugurated digital center in Ghazipur an awareness camp was conducted for the deprived community. Despite an area which falls under the National Capital, the community is excluded from access to information. Hence, DEF with United Way Delhi regular conducts digital literacy, functional literacy and skill building opportunity. So far, 300 community members have been imparted with information on digital inclusion and 50 of them are taking regular digital classes. Soon the banking services will also be activated at the center.
Enabling last-mile access to information
Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) supported by US India Policy Institute (USIPI) has set up eight community information resource. Most of these places do not even have a motorable road or direct transport. But the coordinators of these digital centers with the help of their laptops and internet ensure access to information to them. One of the centers in Muzaffarnager in Tavli panchayat region was recently inaugurated. The center coordinator, Abdullah and his team went through a rigorous two days training under the guidance of Shallu who is looking after all the pillars of the digital center. Read More
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation visits Smartpur Center
Members from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation visited DEF Smartpur’s Tain Hub Centre. The team included Anjani Kumar Singh, Sr. Project Officer & Country Lead and seven more members. The delegation reviewed the work taking place under the six pillars of Smartpur. They also visited the shop run by one of the beneficiaries under the banner Radio Frequency Systems which clearly defined diversified micro entrepreneurship. They also visited the Spoke centre in Bhainsi and were impressed that same services as the hub center were being provided in the remote village. Singh was overwhelmed with the sustainable model led by entrepreneurs.
Rukmina’s role towards women empowerment through digitisation
About 78 girls from Alwar district completed their schooling and have started their higher education. An abysmal 10% literacy rate a decade ago to creating this ‘first batch’ of girls has been the result of a continuous educational intervention. Out of the batch of 78, Rukmina, received an award by Sub-Divisional Officer on Republic Day for her contribution to women’s empowerment. Currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree, Rukmina also runs an e-governance centre in the non-descript village with the support of DEF. Apart from encouraging girls to pursue formal education, the center provides counselling on reproductive health and digital education.
GOAL Mentees harnessing social media tools
In West Bengal, mentor Sneha conducted a session about the role of Social media and shared some impact stories with the mentees to help them understand how individual and collective efforts can be recognised easily with the use of social media tools. With this background and practical examples, the mentees were trained in uploading the videos of their community. This was followed by another assignment where the Mentees were educated about the role and major function of each ministry. Sahina Tahmina and Ehira are actively posting relevant videos about the villages, the activities going on and tagging the relevant ministry.
Internet Saathi: Making women financially independent
Hasnehena Ruhida from Birbhum district, West Bengal, with a master degree, couldn’t find a job due to widespread unemployment. However, she got herself enrolled in DEF’s Internet Saathi programme which proved to be a lucrative employment opportunity. “Being an Internet Saathi I have benefitted much. I am interacting with my neighboring women about the usefulness of internet,” she said. She learned about the basics of smartphones and how to download useful applications to help her in the day to day routine. She is now adept in using smartphone and internet so much so that now she establishing her own business.
STEM FOR GIRLS: Encouraging girls to step into the tech world
STEM for Girls (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) is an initiative of IBM, supported by QUEST Alliance and DEF. It is a school based programme focused on life skills, career guidance, digital literacy and coding skills. Teachers from 53 schools across districts of Guwahati attended a training programme from January 21-22. They were trained about the project and its key components. This will then be taught to students of class 8 and 9 in 63 schools across 4 districts. Read More
TeG moves into Phase-II, now for communities
Technology Empowering Girls is a project by Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) in partnership with NASSCOM Foundation. It was launched on the occasion of International Women’s Day in 2019 with the aim of empowering women in Soft skills and Digital / financial literacy. After successfully completing the first phase by reaching 560 beneficiaries in three locations, the project will now be rolled in 10-District Central Libraries across the Telangana State in Phase-II- Technology Empowering Communities. The project, which also got the permission from Directorate of Public Libraries, will aim to service the community as a whole.
Community enablement through SoochnaPreneurs
Brij Kishore Kazi belongs to below-poverty line family from Mandiha, Bihar. His livelihood depends on the rice seller machine which he takes to surrounding villages to extract rice from paddy. While doing so, one day he came across people campaigning about the ‘Pradhan Mantri Kisan Maan Dhan Yojana’. It is an old age pension scheme by the central government for all land holding small and marginal farmers. Although Kazi was aware about the scheme but he didn’t know how to avail it. This led him to DEF’s digital center where the whole process was taken care of by the SoochnaPreneur.
Skill building and livelihood enhancement in Musiri
Fifty kilometers from Trichy is a town called Musiri which is home to over 5000 weavers. They make silk and cotton sarees or veshti. However, many shifted to powerloom and those who could not afford are struggling to make their ends meet. So much so that, a powerloom weaver earns around Rs.65 per saree and make five sarees a week, but a weaver who makes sarees on handloom earns around Rs 350 per saree and is only able to make three sarees a week. Read More

eNGO Challenge

mBillionth Jury 2020

Digitally Enhancing Livelihood Opportunities

Mobile Revolution and Youth
Abhjeet Mehta
Chief Operating Officer,
Quest Alliance
Young people across the world see mobile and by extension the app ecosystem, as a symbol of progress, upward mobility and status. In India, Quest Alliance, a not-for-profit, has witnessed the rise of smart phone adoption among large cross sections of youth-from school dropouts enrolled in a short term vocational course to thousands in the Industrial Training ecosystem studying to become welders, draughtsman and computer operators. Through our research and practice over the past five years, three primary areas keep cropping up among youth as far as the mobile ecosystem goes: Access, Affordability and Awareness. While there... Read More
For e-champion

Hellotask App, based out of Dhaka in Bangladesh, was selected as the winner for 10th mBillionth Awards under the Inclusion and Empowerment category. Hellotask connects the nearest free and freelance domestic helpers with customers based on time, location and type of work. The app allows users to hire domestic help for any duration of time, be it a few days, weeks or even a month. With an option to freelance, the workers have more flexible hours along with an option to earn more than their regular income. The platform also provides information of a worker’s training and experience. It also allows the user to rate the services and provide feedback. 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.

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