Uninor and Hand in Hand Citizen has established 58 citizen information centres across the Indian state of Tamil Nadu bringing the life-transforming benefits of mobile phones to more women. At the same time women entrepreneurs get the opportunity to run the centres.
The information centres are micro-enterprises designed to allow female entrepreneurs to deliver information communication technology services, training and support to other women in their communities. Tamil Nadu is one of the states of India where a study* identified that women are 31% less likely to own a mobile phone than men, a fact that represents a significant ‘gender gap’. Due to this gap, women have less access to life-enhancing and empowering products and services.
The centres function as Internet kiosks and the women entrepreneurs sell Uninor top-up cards and other accessories, thus giving the women a sustainable source of income. The women entrepreneurs receive start-up support and training. At the same time, these centres give Uninor access to the rural market and provide an invaluable point of contact with underserved customers.
Providing local women with training
Mohanapriya is an entrepreneur working at a Uninor Hand in Hand Citizen Centre. She is 22 and lives in rural India. When her father died, she and her mother were left surviving on INR 1000 (USD 22) per month. Their life changed when they were approached by Uninor, given a loan and the opportunity to become entrepreneurs by running a Uninor Hand in Hand Citizen Centre.
At their centre, Mohanapriya and her mother provide local women with ICT training, business training, and education on how to assert civil rights using ICT tools. Concurrently, Uninor benefits from motivated female sales agents who market their products in the village. Mohanapriya and her mother now run a successful business that allows them to make regular loan repayments and generate a monthly income of INR 4000 (USD 88).
Currently there are 58 citizen information centres across Tamil Nadu and the ambition is to establish 500.