Thiruvanthapuram, Kerala: L&T Financial Services (LTFS), a leading non-banking financial company, today announced the inauguration of its flagship CSR project – Digital Sakhi – in Kerala. Using technology as a catalyst to empower women, the project equips rural women with the skills and knowledge to promote digital financial literacy (DFL) in the community and, at the same time, stimulate female entrepreneurship in rural communities.
The Digital Sakhi project aims to nurture a strong network of women who are extensively trained in DFL, leadership and communication. These women, in turn, educate, influence and help their communities to effectively leverage India’s digital financial infrastructure for their economic development. In addition, the project also supports women to pursue the path of entrepreneurship and promote sustainable livelihoods.
Through the Digital Sakhi initiative in Kerala, LTFS aims to create a pool of 100 Digital Sakhis as digital facilitators-educators, who will help about 3 lakh community members to gain knowledge on digital finance, facilitate access government programs and formal credit. In addition, the project aims to support approximately 1,000 women entrepreneurs to establish and grow their micro-enterprises through business development and skills training.
Mr. Dinanath Dubhashi, Managing Director and CEO, L&T Finance Holdings Ltd., said: “For us, CSR is not just about compliance, but extends to working with the whole rural ecosystem through our businesses as well as CSR interventions. Our efforts are inspired by the empowerment model of the communities around us, and our five-year strategic plan – Lakshya 2026, unveiled this year, further tells and underlines our commitment to society. Among other things, we are creating a robust rural business ecosystem that will expand our existing product portfolio by designing new products for our customers as well as expanding our flagship CSR project – Digital Sakhi – to new geographies. We launched the project in Karnataka a few days ago and today we are here for the launch in Kerala.
The inauguration of the project in Kerala follows the successful implementation of the program since fiscal 2017 in states like Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Odisha and West Bengal. The company also recently inaugurated the Digital Sakhi project in Karnataka with community, company and employee participation.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. GV Krishnagopal, Executive Director of Access Livelihood Foundation, said: “Kerala has the unique distinction of having some key socio-cultural indicators better for women than for men. While literacy rates, tertiary and postgraduate enrolment, life expectancy and other indicators appear better for women, labor participation rates and the gender pay gap could be improved. Training in adopting positive financial behaviors such as budgeting and planning using tools/apps will further improve the financial and economic status of women in Kerala. Technology is a great enabler if used sensibly. The effort of LTFS to introduce cutting-edge financial inclusion solutions with good social architecture where rural women themselves will champion the cause is transformative. At the scale of 3 lakh community members in 2 districts of Kerala, this will be an initiative that will benefit the community as a whole.
Since its inception in 2017, the Digital Sakhi project has created a cadre of 960 Digital Sakhis who have helped develop 5,500 female entrepreneurs in rural India. In fiscal year 2022 alone, Digital Sakhis enabled over 8.60 lakh people in five states through DFL.
The project in Kerala will be implemented in partnership with Access Livelihoods Foundation – a social enterprise – which works with marginalized communities to reinvent their livelihoods. Access Livelihoods Foundation is also an established incubation center recognized by AIM-NITI Aayog, primarily incubating women-owned productive enterprises in primary sectors to create equitable and sustainable livelihood opportunities.
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