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.


The Manthan Award Fraternity is delighted to have key members of the intelligentsia from government, academics, civil society and corporate CSR to be part of the Manthan Award processes in the past and present. Their valuable association in one form or the other has inspired and boosted the e-Content movement in India across SOUTH ASIA region through the Manthan Award platform.

Chitranganie Mubarak

Chairperson, ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA)

Dr. Peter A. Bruck

Chairman of the Board of Directors the World Summit Award &
President of the European Academy of MicroLearning (Austria)

Dr. Amir Ullah Khan

Indian Economist & Research Director, Aequitas

Anriette Esterhuysen

Executive Director, Association for Progressive Communications (APC)

Dr. Anil Kumar Gupta

Professor, Indian Institute of Management, Vastrapur, Ahmedabad
Founder, Honey Bee Network, Member, Governing Board, IIMA.
Fellow, the World Academy of Art and Science, California 2001

Shri R Chandrashekhar

President, NASSCOM, Former Telecom Secretary

Osama Manzar

Founder & Director, Digital Empowerment Foundation

Mridula Chandra

Secretary & Chief Executive at Health & Social Development Research Centre

Shaifali Chikarmane

Director, Inomy Media Pvt. Ltd

Shalini Kala

Independent Consultant

Amir Ullah Khan

Senior Policy Advisor Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Rajen Varada

CEO, Open Knowledge Community

Our Mission

To create an information rich society where everyone, irrespective of caste, religion, race, region, gender etc., is empowered to create, receive, share and utilize information and knowledge through digital content for their economic, social, cultural and political upliftment and development

Our Objective

Making visible the contents that already exist and thus demonstrating the richness and diversity of content creativity to those interested in understanding and planning an Information Society.

Our Impact: 13 years of Digital Inclusion

Manthan Award is a conclusive exchange platform for ICT practitioners, Content creators, e-domain experts, social Media change-makers to create a complete Ecosystem where the Digital tools can be seen as a tool for Education, Business & Infrastructure and the holistic Society Empowerment for the 21st century

Manthan Award South Asia is a first of its kind initiative to discover, recognise and honour the BEST use of ICT and digital tools for developmental purposes. The Award is less about technology and digital media but more about the right use of digital and technological tools to empower people.

The Award ( was launched on 10th October 2004, by Digital Empowerment Foundation in partnership with World Summit Award, Department of Information Technology, Govt. of India, and various other stakeholders engaged in promoting digital inclusiveness for development in the whole of South Asia

Since then it has come to define the very best in e-Content and digital practices for development in all of South Asia. After 4 immensely successful years of holding it within India, the scope of the Award was expanded to cover all the South Asian countries and several countries from the Asia Pacific region. But from this 2016 edition, Manthan Award has again gone back to limited to South Asia only in sync with DEF’s other successful mBillionth Award South Asia & eNGO Award South Asia.

The 13th Manthan Award South Asia (2016 edition) is now Open and invites nominations from the following countries in South Asia (SAARC region):

Sri Lanka

We are very excited to announce the CALL FOR NOMINATIONS 2016 and welcome participants from all of the above 8 countries to send us their entries across in the following 09 categories:


Government & Citizen Engagement
| services | open data | democratic participation

This category recognises good governance through efficient system and transparency. It identifies ventures which deliver content rich solutions from administrations to the public including individuals, businesses and organisations and to significantly improve service delivery and quality as well as democratic processes; strengthen public policies, foster efficiency of information exchange, increase transparency and facilitate participation of citizens and public services clients; using public access to data for innovative products and services on a commercial or non-commercial basis. e-Governance recognises all such initiatives where government efficiencies have been achieved and governance targets accomplished across sector, geography, departments and ministries. We are looking for digital solutions that addresses any modern governance needs. The above descriptions are suggestions & guidelines, not restrictions.

Health & Well Being
| medical care | sport | lifestyle

E-health category identifies applications and initiatives that provide healthcare solutions through ICT and digital tools. For example, consumer-centred models of health care where stakeholders collaborate, utilise Information Communication Technology, and/or include Internet technologies to manage the overall health care system. It also considers mobile healthcare services, health awareness services and remote diagnosis solutions. Initiatives from e-health products, devices, services and applications should apply for this category. The above descriptions are suggestions & guidelines, not restrictions.

Learning & Education
| knowledge | science | skills

This category recognises the use of ICT tools such as digital applications, digital devices or social media in achieving excellence in education and learning at various levels such as schools, colleges, universities, and vocation. It recognises efficient education processes which use ICT to generate occupation opportunities at all levels.This category recognises the use of ICT tools such as digital applications, digital devices or social media in achieving excellence in education and learning at various levels such as schools, colleges, universities, and vocation. It recognises efficient education processes which use ICT to generate occupation opportunities at all levels. The above descriptions are suggestions & guidelines, not restrictions.

Environment & Green Energy
climate | sustainable resources | agriculture

This category recognises contributions made by individuals, institutions, organisations, government agencies and enterprises in the field of agriculture. It is a platform for best agricultural practices serving a larger community. It recognises e-content in environmental excellence in Asian countries. This category will also consider individuals, business, and organisations that have shown leadership, innovation, or extraordinary service in protecting, improving, or cleaning up the environment. The above descriptions are suggestions & guidelines, not restrictions.

Culture & Tourism
heritage | entertainment | subcultures

This category recognizes the contribution in fields of culture and heritage through literature, music, visual arts, design, architecture or crafts etc using ICT tools. It also includes projects promoting cultural and knowledge exchanges between different cultures. It also supports efforts to preserve and present cultural heritage in line with the challenges of the future demonstrating valuable cultural assets clearly and informatively using new media platforms. The above descriptions are suggestions & guidelines, not restrictions.

Smart Settlements & Urbanization
| mobility |productive work | sustainable living

This category recognises the use of digital interventions that support mobility, crowdsourcing urban data and sharing information, sustainable living applications, smart cities and work environment applications. If your ICT solutions helping economic productivity; is a cause for employment and decent work for all women and men persons with disabilities; enhance safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems; encourages adaptation to climate change, resilience to disasters and/or risk management you are encouraged to apply for this category. The above descriptions are suggestions & guidelines, not restrictions.

Business & Commerce
| innovative services | security | finance | marketing

This category recognizes applications that seek to achieve efficiencies in business processes and creating new business models in e-commerce. It supports and optimises business processes across business-to-business and business to consumers. E-business will recognise entrepreneurs who use new media to innovate business opportunities and practices. Financial inclusion will seek to reward best efforts in the area of digital, financial and social inclusion to provide financial security and better financial management. The above descriptions are suggestions & guidelines, not restrictions.

Inclusion & Empowerment
| diversity | gender | justice | human rights |

This category supports and encourages the opportunities to share and promote affordable ICTs that allow People With Disabilities (PWDs) to access information and knowledge, and participate fully in society. It also helps in identifying & understanding the needs of persons with specific disabilities (or combinations of disabilities), and undertaking R&D activities for technologies or devices to empower these PWDs; is reducing “digital divide” between technology-empowered and technology-excluded communities; ensuring equal opportunities and reducing inequalities; reducing discrimination against all women and girls & preventing all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres; enhancing information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women. The above descriptions are suggestions & guidelines, not restrictions.

Early Stage | Launched after 1st July 2016

The specific objective of the Award is to bring to the attention of all stakeholders such as governments, business and industry and civil society organisations engaged in the development sector significant ICTD initiatives and valuable digital content that are successfully serving underserved communities especially in rural areas and urban slums. Most of these success stories go unheralded in the mainstream media as these ICT interventions often operate in media-blind areas and sectors.

Consequently, there is little knowledge-sharing among the progenitors of these initiatives which in turn hinders the emergence of an eco-system that feeds on this knowledge and enables scaling up of these initiatives and coordination among them for much larger impact. The Manthan Award South Asia seeks to bridge this gap and create a platform that will not only highlight such ICTD initiatives but also help to create a network and database of such players that will enable all stakeholders to contribute in a way that will enhance the overall impact of such ICT interventions.

So far, the Manthan Award has helped to create a knowledge database of around 5000 different and unique digital interventions that serve the developmental needs of underserved and marginalised communities in the last 12 years of its long history.

Today, the Manthan Award South Asia has become a platform for all innovators and practitioners of ICTD to network, forge partnerships and get mentoring and funding to scale up for greater impact.

If you are an ICTD innovator and practitioner and want to be a part of this network, please send us your nomination for this unique Manthan Award.

Please Note:
No direct entries from Bangladesh for the Manthan Awards South Asia will be entertained from this year. All entries from the country will only be allowed through BRAC Manthan Digital Innovation Award (BMDIA), a collaborative initiative of BRAC and DEF (
The winners of the BRAC Manthan Digital Innovation Award (BMDIA) will get direct entry to the Grand Jury of the Manthan Award South Asia.

Digital Empowerment Foundation:
INOMY Media Pvt. Ltd.:
mBillionth Award:
eNGO Challenge South Asia:
Social Media for Empowerment Award:
Digital Panchayat:
Wireless for communities:
Internet Rights:
e-Heritage Old Delhi: