eDost – A Social Entrepreneur and Empowerment Model

Ms. Pooja Majgankar
Mar 14, 2024
Ms. Pooja Majgankar
Mar 14, 2024

eDost, a women-centric programme initiated to address the existing digital divide and empower women in rural areas, holds great promise in bridging the gap between urban and rural communities in terms of internet accessibility and digital services. The initiative aligns with the broader Digital India Initiative, ensuring that the benefits of technology and the internet reach even the remotest villages.


The dual objectives of the programme – bringing digital services to the doorsteps of villagers and empowering women by providing livelihood opportunities – contribute significantly to inclusive development. By focusing on women, eDost recognizes the importance of gender inclusivity in the age of DigitAll, acknowledging the crucial role of women in the socio-economic development of communities.


Door-to-door delivery of digital services recognizes the need to make these services easily accessible, especially in areas where traditional infrastructure may be lacking. Through eDost, women can become active participants in the digital economy, contributing not only to their personal development but also to the overall growth of their communities.


Moreover, integrating aspects of skill development and entrepreneurship within the programme can enhance its impact. By equipping women with digital skills, eDost can pave the way for them to explore various opportunities such as online entrepreneurship, remote work, and participation in e-commerce platforms.


eDost has the potential to become a transformative initiative that not only addresses the digital divide but also empowers women in rural India. By fostering inclusivity and providing the necessary tools and education, this programme can contribute significantly to the vision of a digitally empowered and gender-inclusive society.


The journey of eDost in Pathardi village showcases a remarkable transformation in overcoming challenges and bringing digital services to a community previously deprived of mobile networks and internet access. The success story highlights the positive impact of the programme, especially in empowering women and creating a trusted network for financial services.


The observation that predominantly, it was the men in the village who owned hi-tech phones and women were unfamiliar with smartphones and the internet emphasized the need for targeted interventions. By identifying a semi-literate woman, preferably a daughter-in-law from the village and equipping her with a smartphone, eDost adopted an inclusive and strategic approach. This decision not only addressed the gender gap but also leveraged the potential of a local community member to act as a bridge between technology and the villagers.


The first and foremost step was to impart training to the selected eDost on the use of a mobile and how to conduct financial transactions through a fintech mobile application. This reflected the importance of digital literacy in enabling individuals to harness the benefits of technology. The initial challenge of gaining the confidence of the villagers in accepting digital financial services was expected, but the perseverance of the eDost and the gradual development of trust among the villagers demonstrated the effectiveness of the programme.


The paradigm shift whereby villagers proactively approach the eDost for financial services instead of traveling to nearby towns, not only saved time and resources but also indicated a growing reliance on digital services facilitated by the eDost. The programme has become a trusted source for financial transactions, demonstrating the potential for further expansion of services and influencing a larger number of people while responding to the demands of the villagers. The inclusion of essential services such as DTH recharge, bill payments and various e-governance services highlights the efficacy of the programme in transforming into am as an adaptable and comprehensive solution for the villagers.


With the inclusion of essential services such as PAN Card, Aadhaar Card, Train and Bus reservations, eShram card, Soil Card, Vaccination Certificates, Voter ID, Land record and Driving License, eDost has become a one-stop solution for various digital needs while reducing the need for villagers to travel to urban centres to avail these services.


The sustainability of the programme is ensured by a nominal service charge being levied for the services provided by the eDost which creates a source of sustainable livelihood as well as ensures value for the service being provided. This economic aspect is crucial for the viability and success of such an initiative.


The geographical expansion of the eDost programme into various parts of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, and Odisha indicates its positive reception and scalability. The presence of over 100 eDosts actively providing digital services at the doorsteps of villagers signifies the potential for replication in other areas and tailored to suit the specific needs of diverse regions.

The eDost programme serve as a model by showcasing the transformative potential of grassroots-level initiatives in bringing about positive change through technology and digital empowerment. The role of eDost cadre as local digital service providers is evidently impactful, extending beyond the provision of digital services. Their contribution to the financial independence of women, support for education and overall positive influence on family dynamics underscores the broader societal benefits of the programme in the following ways:


1. Financial Independence and Empowerment: The eDost cadre is not only providing essential digital services but also creating economic opportunities for themselves. This financial independence is crucial for women empowerment and gender equality. By actively participating in the digital economy, these women are breaking traditional gender roles and contributing meaningfully to their households.


2. Education and Skill Transfer: The fact that these women are contributing to the education of their children highlights a positive cycle of empowerment as education is a key driver for social and economic progress. Their role in educating other women in the village in financial and digital literacy indicates the impact of the programme in creating a multiplier effect by spreading knowledge and skills within the community.


3. Community Building and Trust: The eDost cadre, by residing within the community, establishes a foundation of trust essential for the success and sustainability of digital initiatives. As these women gain the trust of the villagers through consistent and reliable services, it fosters a sense of community and shared responsibility.


4. Opportunities for eCommerce and Insurance Companies: The presence of the eDost cadre in remote villages creates an infrastructure that eCommerce and insurance companies can leverage. These local agents can act as intermediaries, facilitating transactions and bridging the gap between digital platforms and rural customers. eCommerce companies can use these local agents to establish last-mile connectivity, ensuring the delivery of goods and services to the most remote areas. Insurance companies can tap this network to cover rural populations and make insurance products more accessible and tailored to local needs.


In conclusion, the eDost cadre plays a pivotal role in transforming rural communities by not only providing digital services but also contributing to the socio-economic fabric of the villages while contributing to a more inclusive and digitally connected Rural India.

Ms. Pooja Majgankar

 Programme Manager
BAIF Development Research Foundation, Pune

LinkedIn Profile


1 Comment

  1. Dnyaneshwar Pawar

    Wow, great and impactful initiative.


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