In Richard Heeks’ article ICTs and the MDGs: On the Wrong Track, Heeks praises Kerala’s Kudumbashree initiative. He likes the initiative for the “real and direct benefits” it provides for poor communities. Heeks says that the initiative brought women who lived below the poverty line opportunities to become involved in ICTs “through hardware and services enterprises”. The women then have tangible benefits, including an income and gender empowerment. This method of ICT development has been found far more effective than other large broad reaching and over arching projects.
This initiative is also double edged sword in that it provides ICT capabilities to the region while also empowering women and increasing their income. Heeks, in his article, hopes that more agencies and governments will begin to look at ICT development this way.
Heeks describes the initiative slightly, but he didn’t go into detail about the organization. So, I got interested in what exactly and specifically the organization’s goals and mission were. I found that the ICT project was just on of Kudumbashree’s initiatives. The organization is one of the largest women empowerment organizations in the country, serving over 50% of the households in Kerala. One of the most interesting things I found on their website was a segment of their mission statement which read that they aimed to, “combine self-help with demand-led convergence of available services and resources to tackle the multiple dimensions and manifestations of poverty, holistically.”
This segment of their mission statement describes exactly the approach taken with the ICT Initiative. The organization found a demand in the community for ICT and used women who needed empowerment to meet the demand. I think Heeks is spot on with his hopes for other development agencies.