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'Internet Saathi' to take e-commerce to rural areas

Update On :10 June 2016

'Internet Saathi' to take e-commerce to rural areas

To extend reach of e-commerce to rural areas as part of 'Internet Saathi', the joint project to take internet to remote places by Google India and Tata Trusts are in talks with a host of e-commerce players such as Paytm, Amazon and Snapdeal.

Initially launched as an initiative to spread Net literacy, the project would now be converted into revenue generating."We are talking to a lot of players in e-commerce space like Amazon and Snapdeal. Talks are also on with Paytm, which would be a digital payment bank, so that our internet saathis can become BCs (business correspondents) for them," Ganesh Neelam, head, innovation at Tata Trusts said.

A year ago, Google India and Tata Trusts joined hands to facilitate digital literacy by making rural women aware of the benefits of the Internet."The idea is to how these companies, the e-commerce and digital-wallet player, can leverage the platform as these women are assets to the villages with good understanding of the community," Ganesh said.

It was also a programme to overcome digital gender disparity in rural India where women influencers trained by Google, wielding a tablet and a smartphone, and riding a cycle cart, would reach villages and train women folk how to use smartphones, access the Internet, and search for information online.

The programme now covers nine states including West Bengal helping over two lakh women, adding 500 every day.

The aim is to reach three lakh villages in India in next few years, Google India head marketing Sapna Chadha said.But nearly a year after the initiative was launched, Google and Tata Trusts are now planning to make the project revenue generating in order to make it self-sustaining.Considering the way the programme is scaling up, the partner can, at best, keep providing the token amount of Rs 1,000 a month to each of these internet saathis for the next six months.

"We are telling these different players that there is a platform already created where we can mutually benefit. Use of digital wallet is picking up in rural areas where there is proper connectivity," he said.Talks are also on with the telecom players particularly for providing and improving data access to areas where connectivity is poor.

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