The Government formulates policies, programs, projects and schemes to accelerate the rural development. All these programs and schemes being implemented by the concerned ministries and departments of the union and state governments in the area of education, health, women empowerment, sanitation, transport, agriculture and infrastructure at the grassroots level, The schemes, policies and programs of rural development aim at alleviating rural poverty, generating employment and removing hunger and malnourishment accompanied by the enrichment of the quality of human life as reflected by significantly improved human development index. The objective of rural development, however, is not merely one of development of rural areas but of the development of rural communities to dispel ignorance and poverty and assist the process of creating a self-reliant and self-sustaining community. But lack of timely and relevant information, the objectives remained unattainable.
DEF believes that Information is the most dynamic tool which propels empowerment of the marginalized sections of the Society. It is a great enabler for the educated as well as to act as a blocker due to which hindrance is caused in the participation rate of people in any of the development Intervention at the village level. Availing benefits of the government schemes is a part of our constitutional rights irrespective of caste, class and religion. The main problem is that people are hardly aware of the schemes and benefits run by the government. Hence, there was an urgent need to serve the community with the amount of information they are entitled to and this could be only achieved by strengthening and democratizing the environment of public schemes information dissemination, services and final entitlement gains for focused groups and beneficiaries. Thus, institutionalizing the role of information agents can clear such clog of corruption and exploitation at various levels.
“SOOCHNAPRENEUR” program started in 2016 under which selected women from rural areas were trained with necessary information and technology so that he or she can make them available to the needful mainly from rural areas. Their prime responsibility is to make information regarding various schemes and benefits available to the needy; in return, they are expected to charge a nominal amount to sustain their livelihood. This is the initiative which will develop and inculcate entrepreneurial abilities and qualities of a Digital information entrepreneur. They will steer the process of empowerment by making the information regarding government schemes and benefits available to the communities.
This is an initiative which hones and incubates entrepreneurial abilities and qualities of a person. “Soochnapreneurs” are community information agents those who will bridge the gap between government and citizens and will make information available to the last mile rural beneficiaries. They operate both at Panchayat and Block level by empowering his/her immediate surroundings.
The approach focuses on social entrepreneurship in rural India using wireless technology and mobile devices where the information society and economic ecosystem is still underdeveloped with vast sections of society still unreached. It also focuses on livelihood, skill development and employability of rural youth in information economy while serving public and private information services to rural clients on need-based, relevant and affordable manner.
Dissemination of public schemes and private utility based information to ensure rightful citizen entitlements is still a major public service delivery challenge. Thus, Soochnapreneur is one such unique approach which has created rural information entrepreneurs as change agents of the society those who will cater to larger public schemes information services and entitlement needs for those living especially in difficult social and economic environment by using wireless technologies.
These social entrepreneurs can be seen as deviant economic actors those who want to serve the poor or disadvantaged segments of the population.
Social entrepreneurship can commonly be defined as “entrepreneurial activity with an embedded social purpose”. The concept has thus become a large umbrella encompassing activities and processes to enhance social wealth. It has multiple approaches. One approach offers a more idealized view of social entrepreneurs as change agents in the social sector and it also gives them the opportunity to earn money in the pursuit of social change.
The program adopted the Social Entrepreneurship model with an approach that “Soochnapreneurs are more likely to operate in a local area connecting with internal and external delivery system bringing benefit to a powerless segment of the population. Using the approach, Information Entrepreneurs are being created. These information entrepreneurs connect people of last mile with the benefits of government welfare schemes, digital and financial services.
Under this program, a pool of rural information entrepreneurs will strengthen and democratize the environment of public schemes information dissemination, services and final entitlement gains. Vision The goal of the project is to strengthen the poor information ecosystem in rural communities of India that have alienated a majority of India’s population from social and economic entitlement gains.
It is a social entrepreneurship programme which is catalyzed using android based multilingual app “MeraApp which has a scheme based repository to serve scheme based entitlement need and also it has in-built feature to track the entitlement delivery progress & revenue earned.
The project aligns with the larger goal of the organization in bridging the information poverty gaps through digital ways and addresses the wider information asymmetry in Indian society. It also aligns with the national global agenda of better governance in tune with the national flagship program “Digital India” flagship program.
The project fulfills the core components of Digital India-flagship
- Creation of digital infrastructure
- Delivering services digitally
- Digital Literacy
- It also aligns with the employment and entrepreneurship objectives of the country i.e. skill training of youth.