Uninor has teamed up with the India chapter of the international NGO, Hand-in-Hand, to launch a pilot project to encourage entrepreneurship in women in the villages of India.
Each selected woman was trained in the use of computers and given instruction in related livelihood opportunities.
A Citizen Centre was then set up for each woman entrepreneur from where she was able to conduct training sessions, offer commercial computer access and other IT related services thereby helping supplement her income.
The Uninor Hand-in-Hand Program is now working with the mWomen Programme which focuses on mobile inclusion of women and aims to halve the mobile gender gap from 300 million women to 150 million within three years. By increasing marginalized women’s access to mobile connectivity and services, the initiative aims at greater empowerment and improved quality of life.
The project was showcased today as a part of the GSMA mWomen initiative launch by Rob Conway CEO GSMA and supported by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Cherie Blair, founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women. This collaboration allows the Uninor Hand-in-Hand project to seek funding, technical assistance in running the program, assistance in developing specific products and VAS from the GSMA to support the Citizen Centres initiative.
“With women training others in their groups on these skills, this is a self propagating model that leads to the creation of many more Citizen Centres and Citizen Centre Entrepreneurs. We started with 50 centres and have already committed to setting up 500 additional centers by December. We will also take this program to other states,” said Rajiv Bawa, Executive Vice-President, Corporate Affairs, Uninor. “This project is now a part of a global goal supported by global leaders and organisations. With support from GSMA on this project, we hope to play our part in reaching this goal.”
“ The GSMA is pleased to see how forward thinking Uninor are being in their plans close the mobile gender gap by both engaging and empowering women through the use of mobile technology,” said Chris Locke, managing director GSMA Development Fund. “We know that mobile has proven to be a major driver for good in society, and in particular we know the ubiquity of mobile phones is bringing life changing benefits to those most in need in the developing world.”
Uninor works with Hand-in-Hand to identify women from their self help groups in rural India who demonstrate entrepreneurship potential. Citizen Centres are then set up in villages – each managed by a woman Citizen Centre Entrepreneur trained by Uninor employees in computer skills and business management.
From these Citizen Centres, that Uninor equips with computers, printers, internet access and a small library, the woman entrepreneur provides commercial computer and internet access online ticketing, conducts desk top publishing work, imparts trainings in HSSE, RTI, vocational training and certificate courses in computer education to the wider local community. The Entrepreneur also trains other women from her self help group in these activities, the use of which, equips such women with the ability to supplement their own incomes. These women can then lead Citizen Centres of their own.
“We at Hand in Hand have dealt with more than 30 corporates and we find the approach of Uninor in ensuring high quality outcomes through close monitoring and participatory functioning perfectly in tune with our standards of high levels of efficiency. Working for the poor women to bridge the gender gap and digital divide through ICT requires long term commitment and dedication and we hope that our partnership would be able to achieve that,” said Dr. Kalpana Shankar, CEO, Hand In Hand.