Women in 32 villages across Maharashtra are all set to go digital with the aid of ‘Digital Sakhi’.
This pilot programme aimed at digital financial inclusion has been initiated by L&T Financial Services. The project was launched in June and saw LTFS partner with Action for Agricultural Renewal in Maharashtra (AFARM- an NGO working to promote rural livelihood). ‘Digital Sakhi’ has already made great progress.
Subhash Tamboli, Executive Director at AFARM shares his thoughts about the project. “Promoting digital financial literacy in rural communities is vital for the socio-economic empowerment of women in Maharashtra.
“We hope to enable educated but unemployed rural women so they can act as Ambassadors for digital transformation. So, we’re imparting training for entrepreneurial development, business development and management.
Sunil Prabhune, Chief Executive of Rural Finance and Chief Human Resources Officer at LTFS tells us more about the year-long project to be run in 32 villages of Pune, Solapur and Osmanabad districts.
“Literacy in today’s world is beyond formal education. When India is moving towards a cashless economy and digitization, digital literacy is imperative if we are to have women as change makers. So, equipping them with knowledge, skills and a digital device in hand, is our way of empowering them.
He reveals that the Digital Sakhis were identified at awareness programs in gram sabha meetings where the project garnered a lot of interest. “We received a lot of applications after which we conducted focus group discussions and personal interviews. The selected Sakhis then went through TOT (Training of Trainer) program at a district level.
Touching upon the idea behind choosing only women as ‘Digital Sakhis’, he shares, “Women are careful, sincere and very meticulous about household finances. As the saying goes- ‘Educate women and the complete household gets educated’,” he beams.
The trained Sakhis are to conduct digital camps for 1,000 women micro-entrepreneurs belonging to villages and target grossly 1,00,000 villagers across the three districts. The women shall learn to make daily transactions using digital payment modes to further financial inclusion.
“Sensitizing villagers about government initiatives on digitization is another goal, as we seek to strengthen their ability to use digital tools,” Prabhune explains.
Tamboli agrees, adding, “The camps shall also help link these women with intermediaries and market players who shall give them lots of opportunities for business expansion. This will effectively increase the income of rural women over a period of three years,” he completes signing off.
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