Bride-IT- A Digital Entrepreneurship Training programme: Vimukti Pothnal

When one mentions INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY IN INDIA, the city that comes to mind is Bangalore in Karnataka. Known throughout the world as a leader in IT and innovation, our state’s most famous city is a synonym for “Silicon Valley” and information technology. But how many of us know Karnataka beyond Bangaluru? If we mention Manvi, how many would know that this under developed Taluka in North Karnataka also forms part of the vibrant, diverse fabric that is Karnataka? Not may, and that’s the sad reality of many of the neglected and backward districts, Panchayath, and talukas that exist in this beautiful state. Plagued by poor literacy, the devadasi system, caste system child marriage, migration, water scarcity, poverty and drought, Manvi Taluka, in Raichur district, is one of the most backward talukas in one of the most backward districts in Karnataka.

Development Focus (DF), in partnership with Vimukti Pothnal, is piloting an innovative Digital Entrepreneurship programme in this taluk. The aim of this unique initiative is to create rural e-entrepreneurs from socially and economically disadvantaged rural communities. The project, aptly named brigde- IT, is a micro entrepreneurship programme that attempts to brigde the IT gap between urban and rural India. It focuses on building the IT and entrepreneurial skills of rural youth from poor socio-economic backgrounds, providing them a pathway to earn a livelihood through e-entrepreneurship. By promoting rural entrepreneurship, the intervention aims to improve the rural economy, reduce illiteracy and provide academic inputs to both school going children and adults through computer education.

Over a period of two years they will undergo training in computer, internet, and entrepreneurial skills to enable them to become e-entrepreneurs. As in all our projects, community committees were formed in 6 panchyaths and sensitized about the project. These committees came up with criteria, which applied to choose the youth. The youth, despite having BA/B.ED, degrees, had never touched a computer before. They had no clue on how to use a computer, or what their careers would be. Three months into implementation however, the participants, known as facilitators, have already undergone training in basic computer usage, MS Word and MS Excel. Each of them has been provided with a laptop/ notebook, a DLP projector, speaker’s pen drive and mouse. They can operate a computer with skill and confidence. Using these tools, they have already made a remarkable start teaching higher primary school children using computer based educational software.

Over the next two years the facilitators will undergo intensive and innovative training in e-entrepreneurship, communication skills, and confidence building. They have already undergone training in rural micro business, use of internet, and life skills. Soon they will meet and learn from local entrepreneurs and leave their villages for the first time of visit the big city on exposure visits. By the end of the programme these 16 young people will have the capacity and the confidence to successfully run e-enterprises in their villages, providing much needed unique and innovative IT services to their communities.

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