Nasscom plans self-sustaining future for teleservice centres

Tags: News

Move to bridge digital divide in technology use & digital inclusion

Nasscom Foundation, the non-profit arm of the country’s premier lobby group of software and BPO companies, plans to convert its 175 odd Nasscom Knowledge Network telecentres into self-sustaining units. The Nasscom Knowledge Network units provide access to knowledge and information in education, livelihood, he­alth, to improve the capacities for employment and entrepreneurship of underserved communities in rural and urban areas.

“I am very clear that we can’t afford to be underwriting the costs of these units via grants on a continuing basis. We are therefore encouraging them to start some service offering that can help defray the monthly running cost of Rs 7,000-8,000 per telecentre,” Rita Soni, CEO of Nasscom Foundation told Financial Chronicle.

A key objective of setting up the telecentres was to bridge the digital divide in technology use, leading to digital inclusion, and create a cadre of youth leaders who can not only lead in imparting new skills but also be the harbinger of change for their communities. The initiative was designed to engage industry, civil societies and communities in synergistic partnership to create an enabling environment to build life skills to enhance the livelihood and employment opportunities of the grassroots communities. The foundation supported non-governmental organisations and not-for-profit organisations in India to set up and run tele­centre/knowledge centres­/learning centres by funding up to 80 per cent of the capital cost of these centres.

“We want these centres to be self sustaining. Towards this end, we tied up with firms like Cairn India to set up telecentres in semi urban areas, which can provide services to the company thus creating employment and entrepreneurship opportunities in Rajasthan,” said Soni. Some centres have also started providing training for BPO jobs or those in animation or organised retail. “The idea is to provide what the market demands including soft skills training using the computer and the digital infrastructure already installed at he centres,” she added.

The network of NKN centres aims to serve under-served communities to access services and skills that can help them make informed choices and improve their overall well being by empowering them with the requisite information and communication tools, and services. The centres are run by as many as 35 non-governmental partners.

“Some of these centres have become common service centres for providing government e-governance services. The key is to share the learnings amongst the centres so that others can learn and adapt what is relevant for them,” said Soni.

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