Established in 2002, Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) is a not-for-profit social enterprise that empowers people at the edge of information, including marginalised and underserved communities.
DEF’s overarching cross-cutting goal is to end information poverty by ensuring access to information for all. DEF does this in various ways including the use of digital tools and infrastructure, connectivity and Internet.
One of DEF’s flagship programmes is to establish Community Information Resource Centres (CIRCs) in rural and semi-urban areas that are community-owned and managed, and equipped with broadband enabled basic digital infrastructure. These CIRCs spread digital literacy at little or no cost to empower information-dark communities to use digital tools and avail a whole range of digital services to meet their day to day requirements.
CIRCs also implement other projects that enable education services, entrepreneurship development and skilling, tele-medicine, empowering below-poverty-line people to know about and avail government welfare schemes, ensure conservation of natural resources, and promote culture and heritage.
Various DEF projects also empower village level local government bodies, schools, micro-enterprises, civil society organisations, primary health centres, public libraries and other entities to become digitally enabled and capable of availing all the benefits of the Information Age.
In almost all its projects DEF pays special attention to women’s empowerment. Some projects are, however, devoted entirely to enabling rural women and women entrepreneurs, especially tribal women and those living in backward districts, become digitally literate and capable of using digital tools and the Internet to improve their lives and their businesses.
Some of the programmes that have critically impacted women are Wireless for Communities, Mobile for Good, Mobile for Social & Behaviour Change, and Digital Literacy.
DEF has so far empowered more than 1 million people to use digital tools for bettering their lives. Through its awards and mentorship programmes, DEF identifies and honours innovations and best practices in the field of ICT for Development (ICTD) across all digital media and has successfully created a knowledge hub and database of more than 5,000 such innovations across India, & South Asia
DEF’s advocacy and research projects seek to promote more intensive use of digital tools, access for all to the Internet and the right to information.