The main aim of the Wireless Women for Entrepreneurship & Empowerment (W2E2) program is to create women’s micro-level social enterprises based on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and develop women entrepreneurs supported by wireless Internet in 4 backward districts of India and contribute to an enabling Internet environment and Internet for gender inclusion and women empowerment.
The objectives of the program are:
- To promote Internet-based social enterprises and entrepreneurship among women as change agents
- To have Internet and ICT for gender inclusion in social and economic empowerment
- To boost traditional skills among women in cluster-based environment, help them reach markets and ensure sustainability
Background support to the Program
The program is based on the strengths of the existing programme activities under the ‘Wireless for Communities’ (W4C) program, a joint initiative of Digital Empowerment Foundation and Internet Society. The W4C program provides low-cost high-quality Internet connectivity in remote unconnected and rural areas of India.
While it is apparent that W4C locations would have broadband available for usage, it is important to boost the usage wide across the regions. This is possible only through the showcase of Internet’s use for business and sustainability so that the maximum number of entrepreneurs takes advantage of Internet and shows its strength as required for social and economic development. On the other hand, it is also important to explore how mobile and other wireless based Internet connectivity like through data card impacts the usage of Internet if adopted for the day-to-day usage and creates demand for Internet usage.
The program comprised of the following components:
- Setting up a micro enterprise :- To set up of dedicated wireless Internet supported micro women social enterprises which may also serve as an entrepreneurially driven center to serve public scheme information, ICT services, ICT vocational skills and other supporting activities to socially and economically sustain the enterprise
- Training and Capacity building :- To select and train 50 identified women entrepreneurs in 5 locations to own and run socially empowering micro enterprises
- Website development :- To help develop websites for each of the individual woman entrepreneurs and train them to manage it constantly.
The W2E2 Program was launched in May 2014 in 5 locations of India namely Tura in Meghalaya, Ranchi in Jharkhand, Chanderi & Shivpuri in Madhya Pradesh and Baran in Rajasthan.
With 10 women selected in each location from across various domains of SHG’s, Agriculture, teaching, etc. the program took its first step towards computer training.
These women possess a basic computer education and thereby their training mainly included the following topics:
- computer hardware
- basic information on computer Operating Systems
- basic software
- importance of CPU, Keyboard, Mouse and Monitor
- the Internet
The training of all these women was held for 6 months. After 3 months of basic training they were engaged in a Google sponsored program Helping Women Go Online (HWGO) under which they provided basic computer and Internet training to other women. This activity is ongoing and they are now fully prepared to do some independent assignment. ICT equipment will be provided to selected women for this activity. It will help them strength their entrepreneurship skills and status.