Tata Trusts and Google India expand the ‘Internet Saathi’ program by enabling cashless transactions through MobiKwik, with an aim to drive digital economy in rural parts of India. Internet Saathi initiative aims to transform the lives of over 200 million with digital literacy in India. The initiative focuses on training communities to go online, whilst providing them access to internet powered devices and educating them about cashless payments.
Speaking about the collaboration, Raman Kalyanakrishnan, Project Director, Tata Trusts said, “As a part of the Digital India initiative and Tata Trusts’ overall digital strategy, our aim is to drive empowerment with a focus on digital innovation to create a revenue opportunity for the communities at a larger level with sustainable impact. Enabling digital wallet is a big step towards ensuring that the community benefits from services with great amount of saving in time and cost. Tata Trusts sees digital livelihoods as an opportunity that is truly path breaking and in line with the ethos of “Lead, not follow”.
Tata Trusts and Google India launched the Internet Saathi programme with an objective to reduce gender barrier for access to the internet and its benefits. Launched in July 2015, Internet Saathi program is now live in 10 states reaching out to over 26,000 villages. Close to 12, 00,000 women have benefited from the programme by getting trained on digital and internet literacy.
Speaking on the partnership, Upasana Taku, Co-founder of MobiKwik said, “Demonetization has encouraged millions of Indians in rural villages to adopt the new way of wallet payments. However, most of them do not possess a smartphone and cant download & operate an app by themselves. Internet Saathi shall help resolve this issue at a grassroot level, which is the need of the hour. Earlier this month, our government marked the beginning of a cashless revolution and this initiative is our contribution towards making wallet payments a reality for masses in India.”
The digital awareness and internet literacy campaign carried out by the Internet Saathi (enablers of change, employed under the initiative from each village), enables the village communities get acquainted with the smart devices with the potential of sourcing information from the devices and making wallet payments through MobiKwik. The community members are encouraged to actively seek information related to the daily livelihoods activities through the platform established in the village and adopt MobiKwik payments for their local or internet enterprises by the Internet Saathi programme. Critically, the platform provides internet enabled devices and a trained person in Internet Saathi at the village. This transformational campaign is launching in Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh today.
“We are thankful to Tata Trusts and Google India for extending their support to our vision of making mobile wallet payments ubiquitous.” Upasana added.
Understandably, most of the services will be introduced for the first time in the village communities. In this context, a credible source such as the Saathi will be in a position to pioneer the digital services’ delivery and maximize the reach of the services in the village.
In today’s changing world Tata Trusts see digital based livelihoods as a key to significantly change the lives of people. The Trusts believe that focused, innovative and replicable interventions are the future of sustainable development. Digital based livelihoods are repeatable and scalable hence they create favorable entrepreneurship environments that will significantly changing the lives of the communities.
In order to drive empowerment and create revenue opportunity, the Internet Saathis are being equipped to the ‘Digital Agents’ of change, the Internet Saathis will be equipped to offer digital services in a wide range of domains.
Financial inclusion and digital payments: Internet Saathis are going to be trained to be able to provide services such as online payment of utility bills, mobile bills and recharges of all leading telecom service providers, and to undertake mobile wallet transactions. Tata Trusts is partnering with Mobikwik, a leading mobile wallet, for delivering these services.
Digital citizenship services: Another such digital initiative is to provide access to information on social schemes for rural households with the help of an intelligent algorithm that maps households to eligible schemes. Tata Trusts has partnered with Haqdarshak for enabling the Internet Saathis deliver services in villages through a mobile application.
Frequently used services: The Internet Saathis are also being used as effective field functionaries by a leading mobile operator to serve as retailers of SIM cards, connections and top-up products in rural areas.
Digital communication agents: The potential of the extensive platform of Internet Saathi on the field is also being leveraged by engaging the Internet Saathis in developmental programmes, such as Swachh Bharat Mission, driving behavior change in communities.