February 2018

Gaining by training

The internet has become a powerful tool amongst women in villages. It has sparked their entrepreneurial journey and continues to lead them to the path of success

Internet is bringing rural women closer to their community and to their dreams

Spreading internet literacy
Mridula from Andhra Pradesh, fondly referred to as Saathi Akka (Saathi sister) by women and children in her village, has helped many children look for coaching classes and exam results on the internet. Many women in her village have visited online sites and learned to make chicken pickle and mysorepaak (a sweet) — thanks to Mridula, who got acquainted with the internet through the Internet Saathi programme and has been assisting people in her village since then. Intrigued by technology, a school headmistress, who is also Mridula’s student, says, “I have started using the internet to keep my students interested in their lessons because the material available on the internet makes their learning more fun.” As a Saathi, Mridula has been spreading internet literacy in her village and making a significant difference by helping people access online information.

Generating business by accessing information
Asiya Gawandi from Maharashtra has trained a number of women to use the internet, and they are now able to access it deftly. With the help of recipes available online, Shabana Mulla learnt how to make popcorn using only oil and maize seeds which they have in abundance. Talking about her entrepreneurial journey, Shabana says, “My learning led me to start a venture along with my daughter, and our business is now beginning to yield profits.” Another enterprising woman, Rajeshwari Gaikwad, has mastered the art of making amla supari, a popular kitchen item in Maharashtrian households. She endeavours to grow and nurture her business as much as possible.

Women have gained the confidence to step out of their homes and embark on new journeys. This has led to a unique local market concept called Apna Bazaar, where all women come forward with their best offerings — be it food items, mehendi art, sugandhi uttan, jhoolas, etc. Apart from the platform to showcase their talent, they also get guidance on making better products by getting tips from the internet. The women then identify the best products from the lot and take bulk orders for them. This has set a great example for all womenfolk on how information and mutual support can make them self-sufficient and help overcome all odds in life.

This story has been taken from the Sir Ratan Tata Trust and Allied Trusts Annual Report 2016-17.