Digital literacy in rural India is abysmally low. The ratio of internet users in rural India according to gender is three women to every ten men in 2017. However, this is an increase from an even low number in 2015. The survey was conducted by Kantar IMRB ICube-Rural Internet Report 2017
Google announced the expansion of the Internet Saathi initiative at Google for India event in New Delhi. Dubbed Internet Saathi 2.0, the initiative has partnered with the Foundation of Rural Entrepreneurship Development (FREND), an initiative from the Tata Trusts.
According to Google, the partnership with FREND is supposed to provide a medium through which women who are a part of Internet Saathi can find means of livelihood with the help of internet.
In the event Sapna Chadha, marketing head, SEA & India, at Google said, “In spite of the socio-economic challenges, thousands of Internet Saathis have gone on to do amazing things, once they learnt on the Internet. It was this winning spirit that inspired us to create a new sustainable framework with Tata Trusts, that aims to deliver employment opportunities to Internet Saathi.
Meanwhile, Raman Kalyankrishnan, head, strategy, Tata Trusts said, “For several years now, livelihood generation has been a core area for the Trusts. Given the progressive penetration of Internet Saathi program, it was only natural for us to bring income generating opportunities to these women so that they become self-dependant and further encourage women in their communities to emulate them. We are happy that several organisations have already tested the strength of this platform. We are confident that with Google we are establishing a very large entrepreneurship movement in rural india.”
Currently, 12,000 Internet Saathis have joined this initiative with the Tata Trusts.
Internet Saathi was launched by Google in 2015. It covers 300,000 villages across India. This program is meant to encourage digital literacy among women. It has been rolled in 12 states and is supposed to have benefitted over 12 million women in rural India. Around 30,000 Internet Saathis have been working in 110,000 villages to digitally empower women with the help of smartphones and tablets.