Google-supported project to enable phone-based skilling outreach to 100,000 women entrepreneurs
To support the entrepreneurial aspirations of rural women, NASSCOM Foundation has announced the inauguration of two call centres under the 'DigiVaani' initiative in collaboration with the Indian Society of Agribusiness Professionals (ISAP). Based out of New Delhi & Lucknow, the 'Digivaani' call centers extend the Google.org-supported Women Entrepreneurship & Empowerment Program to reach 100,000 rural women in seven districts across six states - Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar - via a phone-based program in digital, financial and entrepreneurship skills free of any charge. In addition, the call centers will provide 30,000 women dedicated access to trained counselors to help them leverage their skills and further develop entrepreneurship and income generation opportunities.
The DigiVaani centers were launched by Anna Roy, Senior Advisor, NITI Aayog, who presided over the inauguration ceremony. Also present at the event were Nidhi Bhasin, CEO, NASSCOM Foundation and Sapna Chadha, Vice President, Marketing, India & Southeast Asia, Google. Anna Roy made the first call to a woman entrepreneur, Vinita Kumari who runs a small scale business enterprise in pickle and mushroom farming in Bihar. During the conversation, Anna Roy guided her on government-based schemes such as Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana available to help expand her livelihood opportunities.
Commenting on the launch of DigiVaani, Nidhi Bhasin, CEO, NASSCOM Foundation said that, "Women are catalysts for economic growth in India. Potential of women entrepreneurs needs to be unlocked for them to be able to create 150-170 million jobs by 2030. To achieve this objective, NASSCOM Foundation has received support from Google.org to enable women entrepreneurs to embrace digital solutions to break barriers and enable them to create digital-enabled businesses with help of DigiVaani call centres. We are also delighted to extend our partnership with ISAP to make the path to entrepreneurship easier for more women by providing them with all the necessary support; thus augmenting the existing efforts of uplifting women entrepreneurs as they play a critical role to the economic growth of the country."
Sapna Chadha, Vice President, Marketing, Google India & Southeast Asia said that, "Equitable access to knowledge and information is at the heart of our mission at Google, and drives our longstanding commitment to bridging digital divides, be they affordability, geographical, or gender, or any other. In India as the world over, women have lagged behind men on opportunities because of several barriers to technology. Our experience with the Internet Saathi program that reached digital skills to 30 Million rural women across the country demonstrated that when women get access to the internet, they utilize it to open up avenues for entrepreneurship and growth. This continues to inspire us in our WomenWill platform which is committed to provide skilling to 1 Million women entrepreneurs in India. Google.org is delighted to support NASSCOM Foundation and its collaboration with ISAP in this unique extension to our Women Entrepreneurship and Empowerment Program that will provide thousands of women comprehensive skilling and dedicated support for a solid start to their transformation journeys."
Anna Roy, Senior Advisor, NITI Aayog said that, "A considerable number of women in India lack awareness and substantial means to sustain or start their businesses as they are unfortunately not equipped with basic resources that we take for granted in our world. However, times are changing now with the industry understanding the need gaps much better. DigiVaani, is a wonderful step in that direction. It will empower rural women with resources and skills they need to succeed. Spearheaded by NASSCOM Foundation and supported by Google, this initiative will work on bringing together the key ingredients required to transform the women entrepreneurship ecosystem in India".
The ongoing Women Entrepreneurship & Empowerment Project (WEEP), supported by Google.org is being conducted for 20,000 beneficiaries and 1200 master trainers through a cascade model in 18 districts in 6 states across India. To further support and sustain the entrepreneurial aspirations of existing women beneficiaries within the project, the DigiVaani call centre was conceived to guide and further train beneficiaries and has been extended to those who may want to take up new sessions and scale their businesses. The call centre infrastructure has been set up in Delhi and Lucknow with a total of 19 women counsellors handling the operations of the call centre. The DigiVaani call centre project will culminate in March 2023.