Guest post by: Karthik Pai, Manager of Finance, Reach Mobile
The team at Reach Mobile is fortunate to work for a socially responsible tech company, and be given the opportunity to make an impact around the world.
Reach Mobile is a brilliant idea. The concept of helping someone in need, somewhere in the world, by just doing what we are already doing everyday- i.e. using our phones. It can't get much easier for us to make a difference.
I am part of the finance team here, and in any normal company would not have gotten the chance to experience this act that I am about to describe below. The experience has influenced me a lot and made me very glad that our company decided to take this initiative forward.
I was asked to accompany Rania Chawla, one of our Customer Success Representatives, to visit Ranchi, Jharkhand (India) for a Reach-sponsored "Get a plan, Give a plan" event. We would be joining hands with "The/Nudge" and the "JSLPS", two organizations whose main goals are to make a difference in the lives of people who have been disadvantaged financially and/or socially. Our objective at the event was to enable connectivity for at least 100 women entrepreneurs, who are leaders of various "Self That Give" (self-help) groups facilitated by The/Nudge and JSLPS. Providing them with cellular data connectivity would go a long way in improving each individual's life, as well as the lives of other “Self-Help Groups” members. The women would leave the event with the power to increase their knowledge in their areas of work, such as Agriculture, Goat-rearing, Entrepreneurship, and furthermore help them educate their children by allowing access to the “Internet” (even though many of them wouldn’t have had the opportunity for a formal education).
We all know that the "internet" is a very powerful tool, and I believe that when people get access, it can propel them on the expressway to make a better life, and bring them out of their current situations to a much preferred one.
This event was spread over 3 days, out of which our team would be participating in the first 2 days and for the 3rd day, The/Nudge would be taking it forward on our behalf. My role was to help with any technical difficulties the women faced in connecting their new cellular devices (which were donated to them ahead of time by JSLPS).
After a long drive on the not so easy road from Ranchi to Gola, a small village in the state of Jharkhand, we reached the first venue (a JSLPS office located in the center of the village) at about 10am and were surprised to find no one at the venue. After speaking with the JSLPS representatives, we learned that the women were late because they would be completing their household duties such as cooking meals for their children and husbands, cleaning theirs homes, washing their clothes, cleaning utensils, and then walking long distances to the JSLPS office. These women, who face many challenges and have a strong will to come out of their current situations, sacrificed a lot to attend this event. I'm so pleased that we achieved our objective to empower these women with the most important tool in today’s time- the Internet.
Already an Impact
At the start of the session, many women did not even know how to send a WhatsApp message, they didn’t know that Google has answers to almost any question, or that on YouTube they could watch educational videos about farming, cooking, stitching and living as well. We also helped connect them to various government sponsored applications in their local dialects aimed to educate them and foster connections with people from different villages across the country. I was amazed to see that after just a few hours, these women had started sending WhatsApp messages to the groups they had formed among themselves. Everyone was so engaged, they even opted to skip lunch. It was amazing, and only possible due to Reach Mobile customers that fuel the Get a plan, Give a plan initiative.
It would be really nice to meet these women again after some time has passed, to see what long term changes Reach Mobile has been able to make in their lives. I am also looking forward to more of such ways in which my esteemed colleagues and friends here at Reach Mobile will be making a difference in this world by bringing "Better Mobile, Better World, In Reach".