Meet Rajmani O., one of the recipients of Gigs that Give connectivity in Jharkhand State, India
Join us as we follow our impact from a mobile plan in the US to a woman's mobile phone in rural India. The phone is her first, provided to her through an outreach program of The/Nudge and JSLPS (a government agency in Jharkhand focused on social and financial empowerment). Read on to see how Gigs that Give is impacting lives with the gift of connectivity.
The/Nudge, based in Bangalore, India, improves lives by addressing the many challenges of poverty impacting women, men and families in India. One such challenge is the lack of access to digital resources and communication channels, otherwise known as the digital divide.
To reach the women of rural Jharkhand, The/Nudge works closely with JSLPS (the Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society), a government-funded agency. Together, the organizations conduct many outreach efforts (such as recurring Self Help Groups) into the poorest areas of the state to promote social mobilization and financial inclusion.
"Either the women are illiterate and hence cannot use smartphones, or they don't have enough money to purchase one."
One of the women attending a farming-focused Self Help Group, Rajmani O., never had a mobile phone before joining the program. She shared some of the ways the phone has already added value to her life: "My awareness about many things such as farming, cooking practices, Facebook, etc. has improved. I use these learnings in my day-to-day life."
Enabling these women with a mobile connection was the sum of many parts. JSLPS provided smartphones, Reach Mobile's Gigs that Give initiative funded and coordinated the connectivity, and The/Nudge will provide ongoing training and accountability.
With limited exposure to mobile devices or the internet, Rajmani is not unlike her peers. She explains, "either the women are illiterate and hence cannot use smartphones, or they don't have enough money to purchase one."
Yet, even the enormous gift of a free smartphone doesn't fully address the challenge. After all, a smartphone without connectivity holds little value. And a connected smartphone without the knowledge of how to use it falls short of potential. That's why the Self Help Groups place a strong focus on education and tangible skills, and why the Gigs that Give workshop provided hands-on training on how to use a smartphone, download useful apps, and explore resources like YouTube and governmental resources in the local language.
In addition to online tools, Rajmani found that something as simple as a calculator could be remarkably empowering.
"Before I had a phone, the local shopkeeper would charge an incorrect rate for the items I would purchase from him. Now he can't, as I have a calculator on my phone."
While her days are defined by balancing household duties and supporting her family through modest farming efforts, having a smartphone and a connection have made both a bit easier. "I have learned new farming techniques through YouTube that I use at my farm. YouTube also helps me tutor my kids at home, and when they are bored they can watch entertainment or educational shows on the mobile device using internet." (A simple fact of parenthood that mothers in any part of the world can appreciate.)
When it comes to having a smartphone, Rajmani shares: "I am most excited about reading inspirational stories of people." Ironically, Rajmani could now access this blog post to read her own story, which needless to say has inspired us.
The Gigs that Give mission is to connect the unconnected, which simply couldn't happen in isolation. Thanks to our partners like The/Nudge - and their local partners like JSLPS - we see firsthand that solving the digital divide truly will "take a village". We look forward to doing our small part and following Rajmani on her journey towards social and financial mobility.