Women Help Google to Spread Internet use in Villages



After a series of urban initiatives like providing free wi-fi in railway stations and creating a $20,000 start-up fund, software firm Google is now eyeing to increase its presence in rural India. Under a scheme christened Internet Saathi, the company is actively engaging rural women in the country enabling them to provide internet services to villages.

The software giant, in association with Tata Trust is providing a bicycle, mobile and tablet devices, training materials to women who are trained by these companies to become Internet Saathi or master trainers. These Internet Saathis, in turn reach out to people in the village helping them with web-based information apart from providing training to other women in the village to make them e-literate.

“The programme is not only aiding women access information and services but is also empowering them socially and economically,” Ganesh Neelam, head of innovation at Tata Trust said.

Google India is initially paying them Rs 1,000 a month for a period of six months.

“These women can also charge something from the villagers to whom she is providing the required information. They become the agents of change in rural India,” Sapna Chadha, head of marketing at Google India said here.

Already rolled out in nine states, around 500 women are being roped in this programme every week.

Under this rural connect initiative, Google is providing the requisite material in vernacular and is also engaging with other companies to develop content in local language.

As per Google officials, while this drive will help rural India adopt to the world of information and technology, the company will benefit if internet usage increases.

“There is a lot of potential in the rural areas. If internet usage increases, it will indirectly help us widen our advertisement revenue”, an official in the company said.

The Internet Saathi initiative is a part of Google’s Helping Women Get Online campaign which is aimed to generate awareness about the benefits of internet usage among women in rural India.

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