Women in remote villages of Nagpur district are joining the digital revolution unfolding there. On a visit to Kelwad and Ghorad villages in the district earlier this week, I met women (and men) doing all kinds of financial transactions digitally- making electricity bill payments, recharging their pre-paid mobiles, depositing or withdrawing money from their bank account and sending money electronically.
In one case, I learnt about the story of a pregnant woman who had to be hospitalized in the middle of the night. A digital funds transfer from her mother from the village directly to her which got immediately credited to her saved the day and help her get timely care.
Anyone familiar with the rural landscape of India would immediately notice that something quite extraordinary is happening out there. Who is driving this quiet revolution in the villages of Nagpur district?
Another service that Paramita offers is to apply for various e-governance services and entitlements from the government. A partnership with Haqdarshak enables Paramita to facilitate access to various government services at the doorsteps of people. For older men and women, it is nothing less than a boon that they can now for and receive their old age pension without going anywhere.
But all this didn’t happen overnight. Initially, people didn’t really trust Sindhu or other Grameen Mittras. But as they started seeing the benefits, more and more people, especially women, who have to constantly juggle between many priorities at home, are coming forward to use their services.
But what makes Grameen Mittras such as Sindhu or Paramita successful? More than anything, it is their grit and determination to do something, even fighting against all odds.The stark contrast that some of the most disadvantaged women from these Nagpur villages bringing the latest digital technologies to men and women, young and old people in the village is unmistakably noticeable. Even though being a “Grameen Mittra” does not get them a fixed monthly remuneration, they value the opportunity to become self-employed and change their lives. Support of her husband was another critical factor in Sindhu’s ability to pursue this work. Her husband Sachin did not shy away from taking care of their daughter when Sindhu became a Grameen Mittra and had to devote long hours to this work. Within two months, Sindhu is now processing over 600 digital transactions in a month, earning Rs. 2,500 per month. In a couple of months, she expects to start earning Rs 5,000, a critical threshold to help her meet her needs and become an equal contributor in her household finance.