Digital Empowerment Foundation
Grant Start Date
22 December 2021
Grant End Date
21 March 2023
OBJECTIVE OF THE PROJECT
The project seeks to leverage the aspirations and capacities of local entrepreneurial youths as ‘Soochnapreneurs’ (Information Entrepreneurs), leverage and upgrade the mobile data networks in their garden setups, run Internet access points in the Community Internet Libraries (CILs) in gardens, boosted by mobile data network and Wi-Fi zones, and serve local needs for access, information, linkages, opportunities, Internet skills and others.
WHY IS THIS PROJECT IMPORTANT?
The tea tribe community (adivasi community or aboriginals) constitute 20% of Assam State’s population in India. Around one million people work in around 1000 tea gardens, more than 70% women workers. The community has one of the lowest social and economic indicators: one of the worst per capita income and purchasing power, a literacy level of less than 40%, a largely oral community speaking the local ‘Sadri’ dialect, and the community is an example of “Internet and information poverty”.
Given the remoteness of the gardens and the specificity of the terrain, the tea tribe regions are facing one of the lowest access and digital coverage. Further, due to the high cost of setting up Internet infrastructure, the tea regions are low-interest areas for the telecom and Internet service providers. Due to adverse social and economic conditions of the community, even community network solutions are difficult due to cost and sustainability. The only way to address this Internet vulnerability without delay is by leveraging existing limited mobile data networks in the garden, data boosted by mobile phone signal booster devices and channelling in concentrated Community Internet libraries (CILs) with access to network, information and resources. Mobile signal boosters support will provide strength to network signal in gardens and, help overcome the presence of numerous dead spots with no signal or very poor signal, and help wireless reach and coverage in such areas.
The project helps to take the Internet to the tea tribe community members (specifically women), mostly without smartphones or personal devices; to make the use of the Internet more meaningful; to equip the community to have essential Internet skills for empowerment; and to have access to critical public information.