How was India in 2002? Internet was just about seven years old in the country. Mobile was still struggling to achieve a big penetration; there were just 13 million mobile subscriptions in India. Service providers were facing the challenges of trying to minimise the cost of per call rate to geometrically increase the volume of customers. None of the major Acts like the Right to Information (2005), the Right to Education (2009), the National Food Security Act (2013) and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (2005) were in place yet. There were also just 82,409 fixed broadband subscriptions in India. Access to digital tools was limited and access to the Internet and the information it held was even low in the one billion-plus country. It was with this understanding and realisation that DEF was registered as a not-for-profit organisation under the Indian Societies Registration Act, 1860, to carry out this mission of empowering people digitally.
Digital Empowerment Foundation is an integral digital action organisation. DEF constantly acts into creation of information empowerment, equitable communities by providing digital access to information, knowledge and contextual capacity. The organization’s main focus is on to make technology easily accessible to the masses, to empower women, youth, differently abled and elderly through functional digital literacy, media literacy, and digital up-skilling across agriculture, micro and nano-business, health, education, livelihood, and entrepreneurship.
DEF believes, in the digital era access to information and digital knowhow is a necessity and should not lead to exclusion. Therefore, DEF constantly works in contextualising and economising and ensuring access to digital tools its first priority.
Over the last 20 years, the organization is actively engaged in digitally empowering local communities through its 1000 Community Information Resource Centres and wide spread of 10,000 digital foot soldiers located across 24 states and 135 districts in rural, tribal, marginalized, and unreached areas.
DEF has directly impacted more than 30 million people including people from below poverty line, women, artisans, youth, persons with disabilities, and elderly.
Apart from India, DEF now offers help to civil society organisations engaged in the field of ICTD in Africa, South Asia and the Asia Pacific region. Further, to strengthen the global community and become part of the global development fraternity for an empowered world, DEF is affiliated to the following associations, bilateral, multilateral agencies as institutional member:
In the last 15 years, Digital Empowerment Foundation has come a long way but there is still a long way to go because it is yet to achieve what it had set out for.