Sunday, May 15, 2011

Thoughts on the Digital Divide

Last week, I was at a job fair organized by a Micro Finance Institution (MFI) and the target audience were the customers of the particular MFI. Most of them were people from the lower middle class. People vying for the blue collared jobs such as typists, office assistants, drivers, maids, receptionists etc.
It is a humbling experience to meet these people and listen to their aspirations and problems.

I talked to quite a few of them. However, there was one lady whose story intrigued me the most. She must've been aged around 50 and used to work in a factory where she put windings on transformers. She was now looking for any job. Did the factory shut down? Why was she looking for a job that paid her less than the one which she had? Turns out she quit the factory job so that she could withdraw all her provident fund savings to pay a loan which she had taken for her daughter's marriage. No this is not a tragic story from a 70's bollywood movie. By paying up the loan upfront she saved on the interest which would have accrued. Or so she said.

She spoke English very fluently and could speak three other languages and was on the lookout for any decent job. I explained to her how babajob could make her life easier by showing various available jobs in one place so that she could pick and choose the ones she liked and then go ahead. Searching becomes hassle free to quite an extent. Though she did not know how to use the internet or a PC, she understood the benefit and said she would ask her daughter to search for a suitable job.

I think to bridge the digital divide, it is essential to market technology as something which makes life easier and hassle free for the masses. The masses don't care about the internet. They want better jobs. Farmers want better forecast and information. If the internet is seen as something which addresses the day to day problems of these people, then you wouldn't have to ask them to learn how to use the internet. They would learn that themselves!

Posted via email from Random thoughts about tech and entrepreneurship

1 comment:

  1. Very true... those ppl are very enterprising and risk taking... one should be able to show the way