Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India], November 20: Microland Foundation, in collaboration with its implementation partner Technology Informatics Design Endeavour (TIDE), hosted the felicitation ceremony of their first cohort of 20 fellows called Digipreneurs on November 17, 2023. The ceremony celebrated these Digipreneurs, who are young people from the last-mile villages of Tumkur, empowering their community by acting as a bridge between them and the dream of Digital India. Distinguished dignitaries from both the government and private sectors graced the occasion, highlighting the collective commitment to transforming communities through digital empowerment.
The Digipreneur program aligns with the nation's digital transformation goals and addresses the potential social exclusion of vulnerable groups, ensuring no one is left behind by leaving no one offline. The program has served as a proof of concept in Tumakuru and is now looking forward to expanding its scale in different geographies. The felicitation ceremony not only celebrated the exceptional journeys of Digipreneurs but also further solidified the program's vision and achievements, embedding them into the program's design for the new cohort. The commitment is to strengthen Digipreneurs' capacity, allowing them to address community priorities and inspire local support for long-term sustenance.
Kalpana Kar, Trustee, Microland Foundation, said, "Witnessing the journeys of the Digipreneurs and their impact on communities has been a source of immense pride. This initiative aligns with our vision of empowering individuals and fostering resilient communities through sustainable digital interventions. We look forward to scaling these efforts and continuing to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those we serve."
60% of the Digipreneurs' cohort comprises women who have shattered societal barriers, redefining their sense of independence and freedom on both financial and personal fronts.
This growth was possible because prioritizing the self-development of fellows is a critical aspect of the program design, in which fellows are supported through different certifications, online courses, etc., helping them nurture their entrepreneurial and interpersonal skills. At many kiosks, the spirit of entrepreneurship has helped the entrepreneurs multiply auxiliary income opportunities. The Digipreneurs have embraced the ethos of "each-one-teach-one", giving rise to Buddy Digipreneurs, who, under the program's comprehensive support framework, assist fellow Digipreneurs in day-to-day kiosk operations.
Salma, a Digipreneur, while expressing gratitude said, "From the confines of my home to the realm of digital opportunities, the journey with TIDE-MLF has been transformative. The continuous on-ground support and faith in my capabilities have helped me evolve my family's perspective, flourish my income, and most importantly, helped me develop confidence and find acceptance."
T.R. Raghunandan, a consultant, trainer, and author of decentralization, anti-corruption, and heritage conservation was the Chief Guest during the event. He expressed, "It is heartening to see initiatives like the Digipreneur Fellowship contributing significantly to the Digital India vision. The fact that this initiative has recognized the importance of bridging the digital divide by making government benefits accessible to communities opens new doors of opportunities for creating an inclusive, digitally empowered society. There is a need for panchayats to work in tandem with local communities by understanding their needs to bring the transformative change that we aspire for. Such programs can become an important bridge to understanding this need and thus empower communities."
An inspiring panel discussion transpired during the ceremony, featuring key stakeholders. The discussion delved into the program's alignment with Digital India, the challenges faced by Digipreneurs, and the significance of leveraging technology and digital literacy for community change. It also centered around how the richness of data can serve as an exemplar for understanding and uplifting communities. The panelists included representatives from Microland Foundation, TIDE, Haqdarshak, local community leaders, and Digipreneurs.
During the discussion, Gautam Lahiri, Executive Director, TIDE, reflected on the power of partnerships. He said, "The program's holistic approach and commitment to building sustainable communities aligns perfectly with MLF-TIDE's mission. Strategic partnerships and collaboration with diverse stakeholders have the power to empower communities sustainably and become self-reliant. We look forward to further collaborations with government and other key stakeholders in the space to amplify the impact of the initiative."
The success of the program not only highlights economic empowerment but also underscores the program's commitment to building a network of empowered individuals supporting each other in their journey towards sustained growth and prosperity. The program looks forward to expanding the horizons of digital literacy by leaving no one behind in the journey and building a truly inclusive and digitally empowered India.
About Microland Foundation
Microland Foundation is the CSR arm of Microland Limited, an IT services company. The foundation was established in 2016 with a commitment to a paradigm shift in the arenas of Employability, Health, Education, and Environment. In each of these thrust areas, the foundation has identified the intended impacts which are reflective of the needs of the communities they work with. Their projects leverage technology to deepen the impact and are not in silos but intersect with one another. All projects are guided by the principles of Incubation, Ownership, Replicability, and Scalability as an approach to enabling social change.
TIDE (Technology Informatics Design Endeavour) is a 30-year-old Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) based out of Bangalore. It is a development organization that leverages technology to conserve the environment, create livelihoods, and address societal issues. TIDE's work encompasses energy access and biomass-based cooking solutions, energy conservation and renewable energy promotion, environment management, and technology based on innovative livelihoods, particularly with a focus on rural women.
Read more here: https://www.microland.com/relationships/communities
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