Asiya belongs to a small village. She was married at a very young age and thus, couldn’t fulfil her dreams of doing something of her own. In 2009, however, she decided to become an entrepreneur – against her family's wishes. She explained to them that she could provide her children with a better education through her business and eventually, they relented. She started making pickles, papad and ladoos to sell. Although educated, the Internet was alien to her – until she joined Internet Saathi, a Tata Trusts-Google initiative. The initiative aims to create livelihood opportunities for rural women by teaching them the utility of the internet – encouraging digital literacy. Under this programme, women from villages are trained to use the Internet and are equipped with data-enabled devices. These women are known as ‘Internet Saathis’ and work as trainers, to help other women in their village to get started on their Internet journey and benefit from it.
Asiya learned to use a smartphone. Initially, she used the Internet just to chat or engage on social media, but soon she began to take product-related orders and transact through it. She further started to explore the various Gram Panchayat schemes using her smartphone and began creating awareness about them in her village. Today, she is a member of the Gram Panchayat, a beacon of hope to the women in her community (with whom she shares recipes and stitching techniques) and is also respected by her family and friends for how successful her business has become. She has also trained more than 1,000 women in her village and neighbourhood, spreading the joys and power of the internet. Asiya is, however, not complacent. She says, "I am proud of the start Internet Saathi has given me. Hopefully, I will someday run a mall, where my products can be accessed by everyone.”
This story has been taken from the Tata Trusts Annual Report 2019-2020.