Google and Tata Trusts’ ‘Internet Saathi’ program now live in 2.6 lakh villages
Launched as a pilot in Rajasthan in July 2015, Google and Tata Trusts announced the ambitious plans to scale the program to cover 3 lakh villages across India in December 2015. In its four year journey, the program has reached the length and breadth of the country, covering 20 states in India. 70,000 fully trained Internet Saathis are using the Internet to drive positive change in their communities and have already benefited over 2.6 crore women.
Talking about the socio-economic impact of the initiative in India, Neha Barjatya, Chief Internet Saathi, Google India said, “Internet Saathi program has shown us that with the right opportunities, there is no limit to what women can achieve. It is remarkable to see the passion of women in rural India, who are learning about the Internet, not just for their own needs but for their families, kids and their communities.
While some have gone ahead and started their own micro-business [stitching, honeybee farming, and beauty parlour], many others are empowering their families and communities with new skills to enhance their livelihood, and then there are those who are driving awareness for issues like girl child education, menstrual hygiene and more.”
Raman Kalyanakrishnan, Head – Strategy, Tata Trusts said, “For inclusive growth and societal progress, it is imperative that women in rural India are provided with adequate opportunities and knowledge. This has been made possible through the Internet Saathi program. We are really proud of this achievement. The Trusts have increasingly been using technology in all its programmes across 29 states in India.
Punjab and Odisha being a geography of focus for several Tata Trusts’ existing initiatives gives us an added advantage in planning and implementing the Internet Saathi programme in these regions.”
In a recent study with Kantar, we interviewed over 2500 people across rural India to understand the impact that providing access has on their livelihood.
Over time, women start to become more confident, becoming a key source of information for her village, and also help empower the next generation:
· About 70 per cent of Saathis believe they are seen as a source of information in their village — people are coming to them consistently for answers to help children with schoolwork, to learn new cooking recipes, search for jobs, or to run a business.
· 8 in 10 Saathis and their beneficiaries believe people in their village respect them more.
· 9 in 10 women beneficiaries believe in a woman’s right to express herself, and earn a living for her family.
· That’s not all, 7 in 10 women who attended the trainings with the Saathis have seen an improvement in their children’s education.
The study showed increased confidence leads to a level of independence that creates financial opportunities for women to pursue their dreams:
· 3 in 10 Saathis and 2 in 10 beneficiaries have set up some form of business. This, in turn, has provided economic growth, with the business often earning between Rs. 3000 and Rs. 5000 every month.
· 5 in 10 Saathis have seen positive impact on employability.