Mobile Connections to Promote Women's Economic Development

Trickle Up and Tata Communications piloted a project in 2015 that put smartphones in the hands of women living in extreme poverty in India. These women and families participated in Trickle Up’s economic strengthening projects in Odisha and Jharkhand in partnership with India’s National Rural Livelihood Mission (JSLPS and OLM). Like all Trickle Up participants, they received seed capital and training, and connected with other women in savings groups where they shared advice in their peer groups and were able to access loans. The addition of a smartphone, however, provided the women with instant access to information about government programs and market prices, along with training materials and other resources on demand.


Through this initiative, we reached 1,800 participants with mobile technology. Building on this project, we hope to develop a replicable model that can be scaled to reach 25,000 women. While Trickle Up’s program has been proven to effectively help women living in extreme poverty build sustainable livelihoods, this project provided an opportunity to explore ways that technology can play a role in improving and scaling the delivery of our program to more women in remote areas.

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Project Objectives

  • Increase access to information for households living in extreme poverty to enable greater financial and social inclusion and sustainable livelihood development.
  • Increase the responsiveness and accountability of government and other providers to the needs of families living in extreme poverty by increasing their access to real-time data about these needs and strengthening households’ ability to provide feedback about services provided.

Technology Component

  • Provision of a smartphone to ultrapoor women program participants and training in its use and care
  • The development of a custom livelihoods coaching application to support cultivation and livestock rearing, including management of associated basic finance
  • Access to other apps and text and voice-based information to support livelihood development and linkage to entitlements

Project Impact

Financial Impact

  • 1800 ultra poor project participants reached
  • 100% participants diversified livelihood activities in different sectors supported by the project
  • 76% participants demonstrated better technological literacy
  • 52% participants linked their mobile numbers to the bank accounts
  • 77% participants increased their annual income by using mobile phones and livelihoods coaching application
  • INR 6148 (US $86) increase in income reported

Impact of Livelihoods Coaching Application

Providing access to “just in time” information about:

    • Crop Choice/ Livestock Management
    • Planting Strategy/ Rearing Strategy
    • Care
    • Harvest/ Vaccinations
    • Marketing Of Crops/ Livestock

Other Impact

    • Aided a switch to organic fertiliser and pesticides for organic agriculture enabling cost reduction and quality enhancement making products more attractive for customers
    • Aided more informed decisions about crop choice/ livestock management
    • Aided linkage with government schemes
    • Reduction in participants’ need to travel, saving time and money
    • Empowered women in family decision-making
    • Increased participation from men when shown electronic evidence of increased profit
    • Reduction in distress migration rates

Quick Facts


Start Date: 10/1/2015

End Date: 5/31/2019

Number of Participants: 1,800

Vulnerable Populations: Women, Rural, Indigenous Peoples, Extremely Poor, Ultrapoor

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Our Partners

Tata Communications and Trickle Up initiated the MPOWERED project in 2016 as a means to provide a platform to women from marginalized communities to have access to technology and enable them to contribute proactively to the nation’s economy. The project is in line with Tata Communications belief that the spread of technology and global interconnections has great potential to accelerate human progress. The United Nations recognizes Information and Communications Technology as a ‘means of implementation’ for all the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society (JSLPS) was formed as an autonomous society in 2009 within the Rural Development Department, Government of Jharkhand, India, to implement poverty reduction programs. Since 2011, JSLPS has implemented the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) in Jharkhand, which seeks to reduce poverty by enabling the poor households to access gainful self-employment and skilled wage employment opportunities, resulting in appreciable improvement in their livelihoods on a sustainable basis, through building strong grassroots institutions of the poor. Trickle Up has partnered with JSLPS since 2015. 

Odisha Livelihoods Mission was formed as an autonomous society in 2006 within the Panchayati Raj and Drinking Water Department, Government of Odisha, to implement poverty reduction programs. Odisha was the first state in the country to launch the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) in its bid to bring down rural poverty by promoting diversified and gainful self-employment to the rural poor. Trickle Up has partnered with OLM since 2015. 

Self Employed Workers’ Association Kendra (SEWAK) is a grassroots organization in Sundargarh, Odisha, India whose mission is to educate rural and tribal communities on rights, generate among them awareness on health and environment, train them in entrepreneurial skills, and encourage them to find sustainable livelihoods. SEWAK has been a Trickle Up partner since 2006. 

Lokadrusti is a non-profit voluntary organization working for the development of the tribes in the Nuapada District of Odisha, India, since 1988. Lokadrusti aims to transform this region into a self-sufficient and sustainable area by promoting grassroots-level organizations. Trickle Up has partnered with Lokadrusti since 2007.