Fourteen-year-old teenagers these days own mobile phones with nominal information of privacy and cybersecurity. Then there are forty-year-old mothers who own the latest smart-phones but do not know how to use it to their benefit.
Recognizing the need to educate these two generations about cyber safety and digital effectiveness, the team of Binita Karki, Kuldeep Bandhu Aryal, Churamani Pandey and Niladri Parial have come up with a new innovative initiative Digital Sathi.
1. What social problem are you trying to solve with Digital Sathi?
We primarily want to reduce the technological gap that is found among generations through Digital Sathi. Secondly, we want to look out for children’s safety in an online platform.
With Digital Sathi, we also want to inspire children to create some social impact by teaching the skills they have learned. This initiative also helps with value transfer; when young students teach adults they learn to be sensitive about their actions and also become better learners.
2. Tell me about your journey for starting this venture.
Digital Sathi began with Kuldip who was involved in a human development sector innovation project. The aim was to design and create a platform to solve the challenges faced by women in rural areas.
The idea was to support them by providing them access to finance, information and connecting them with agencies. However, the project was unsuccessful, as it failed to identify the basic challenge which was making women use this technology. When Kuldip came in contact with the Team of Triyog, we recognized a similar problem with students; they knew how to use the technology but were unaware of its correct and safe usage.
We know children learn technology much more easily than adults. Hence we thought of teaching adults through children? Say mothers through daughters! This is how Digital Sathi was born.
3. Could you tell us a bit about Digital Sathi?
Digital Sathi literally means digitally connecting two people. It is about empowering women and children through digitization. We want to reimagine school as a community organization impacting not only children but also adults.
Women and children below the age of 15 are vulnerable in this digital era. Thus, we teach mothers the basics of technology and how they can use it safely. With this initiative, we want to sensitize the students to secure their digital life.
We are focusing on women because not every woman is aware of how technology can be used in a productive way. Women have huge potential when it comes to leadership and entrepreneurship. Through technology and digital platforms, women can promote themselves and their products online.
Similarly, Digital Sathi can also be used by teachers. As teaching can get monotonous sometimes, the teachers can use Digital Sathi to create a social impact.
4. How did you raise funds to start your pilot project and this venture? What is your current staff strength?
The funding and infrastructural needs are supported by Triyog School. There are four members of our team.
5. What legal status and the stage is the company in?
It is an individual entity that is treated as a product, created by the mutual effort of Triyog and RDI.
6. What challenges did you face initially, and what are the challenges you foresee coming?
Our pilot project took a longer duration to get completed, due to the children being involved with other school activities and events. The mothers too were engaged in other activities to free their time. So, bringing in two groups together successfully was quite challenging.
In the future, we might have a problem with financial sustainability as other schools might not have adequate resources to work with. We might also face the problem of convincing the schools to implement this idea.
7. How will you overcome your challenges? Who are your target customers?
In the future, we could collaborate with potential investors to sponsor the program to address our financial challenges. Groups of mothers and parents of children can invest too. We surveyed about 60 women and among them, 80% of women were willing to pay for such programs, and we recognized that there was a need. We are trying to create small videos, testimonials and also to market ourselves through national newspapers.
This initiative is targeted towards late adopters of technology and also towards a generation that grew up using technology.
8. What is the business model? Is it for self-sufficiency or profit-making? What is the future plan with your company?
The venture will be provided by Triyog besides other services it provides. We select 7 teachers from Triyog who will empower the students who then will empower the women. We will have 7 teachers who will teach in 14 schools. If each teacher educates 30 school students, it will empower 30 mothers.
It is a 16 weeks program that runs after school. We have 16 modules, and we charge Nrs. 100 per module for each student and the mothers. There is a pre-screening, digital competencies test which all students will go through. There are five levels of eligibility derived on the basis of the test. For example, a student should be at least at level three to be eligible to teach the mother who is at level zero. When they come to the same level, the mentors will teach the students and the women together. Our plan is to reach out to other schools as a social business venture.
9. Do you consider yourself as a Social Entrepreneur? Do you measure the impact of your product/service?
Not yet. We are a group of educators trying to navigate through our entrepreneurship journey.
Yes, we do. At the end of the provided course, we have a testing mechanism. The course goes through 5 competencies test to determine if they have achieved the required learning or not, unless they do, they have to go through the program again and will be certified if they complete the test.
To know more about Digital Sathi you can write to them at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Transcribed by Sadikshya Shrestha
Edited by Shambhavi Singh and Sanjit Samant