Empowering Rural Women Through Digital Literacy: Internet Saathi

09/17/2018 |


Google and Tata Trusts came together to increase digital literacy among rural women. Their initiative, Internet Saathi, develops local women trainers (Internet Saathis) to train other women on how to use the internet, which in turn helps them improve their income and overall quality of life. Now, Internet Saathi is rolling out the initiative’s second phase: expanding from digital literacy to digitally enabled livelihoods, by empowering women to become entrepreneurs and service providers in their communities.

This profile is one in a series of eight that illustrate several unique roles that bold philanthropy can play in surmounting India’s many social challenges. Though identified in the Indian context, these roles are so foundational to the global philanthropic ecosystem that they can be thought of as archetypes of bold giving. You can learn more about these archetypes in our report Bold Philanthropy in India: Insights from Eight Social Change Initiatives.

Primary Philanthropists:

Tata Trusts (in partnership with Google)

Grant Amount:

> INR 68 crores (USD 10 million)

Primary Focus:

Rural Livelihoods—women and girls


Build innovative solutions: Internet Saathi adopts an innovative model (training of community members) and unique approach (tapping into technology to promote livelihoods) to bridge the digital divide and empower rural women.

Key Partners:

  • Tata Water Mission
  • Nonprofits working at the grassroots level

Why Bold?

Internet Saathi adopts a novel approach to addressing a white space in internet literacy and usage for rural women in India. This approach empowers rural women to serve as trainers and helps to break down social barriers facing women in these areas. The initiative has expanded to more than 15 million women across 150,000 villages; over 80 percent of the women who have been trained by Saathis say they have a better understanding of the internet. Finally, Internet Saathi has grown out of a unique partnership between the social and private sectors.

Key Learnings:

  • Channel philanthropy to test high potential but risky solutions that others would not consider
  • Build partnerships based on common values and goals but distinctive capabilities
  • As on-the-ground conditions change, evolve the initiative’s approaches for deeper impact
  • Engage champions in the community to increase the initiative’s scale and deepen its impact
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