3 Applications That Prove Mobile Phones Have the Power to Transform Lives

This article on using mobile technology for social good has been made possible by NASSCOM Foundation.

With over 900 million mobile phone subscribers across India and over 10 million subscribers being added each month, the mobile is contributing to remarkable growth and empowerment in the country. The availability of mobile phones in almost all parts of India and the penetration of communication services in different sectors like education, governance, agriculture, etc., play a huge role in the overall development of mobile technology. This one device has the potential to change several lives just with a few taps.

Mobile applications and other mobile-based services are especially of great help for those who want to reach even the remotest parts of the country and make sure that important and basic facilities are available to citizens everywhere.


People across India have been working on many such applications for farmers, students, young women, etc., and are helping thousands in different ways. Through various partnerships with the government and other organisations, mobiles are being used today to disseminate information on financial inclusion, education and even natural disasters, in urban and rural areas. To encourage this impact and build a digitally empowered nation, Vodafone Foundation and NASSCOM Foundation launched the Mobile for Good Awards earlier this year – a platform to recognise and support innovative mobile solutions impacting India.

There are apps that help thousands of students get access to expert guidance, apps to bring together farmers from across the country and help them adopt better practices, apps to help women and girls feel safer, and many more. Here are five such applications that are making it possible for information, knowledge, support, interventions and resources to reach the most remote parts of India.

VidyaHelpLine: Taking career counselling to underprivileged students


Md. Dilawar, a young resident of Telangana, had to drop out of school after Class 10 due to financial problems at home. He started working as a waiter in a small hotel to support his family. Sometime around then, he also called Vidya Helpline, a career counselling helpline for students from underprivileged backgrounds. Although he wasn’t sure about the kind of help he needed or could get, he discussed his problems with a counsellor and explained that he wanted to earn more money to be able to support his family. The counsellor told him about a free course in hotel management offered by the National Institute of Tourism and Hospitality. Dilawar went on to do the course, completed it, and now works as a staff member in a leading Indian restaurant. He also plans to complete his education till Class 12 with the savings he has been able to put aside.

Dilawar is one among thousands of young people in rural India who have benefitted from Vidya Helpline – a mobile-based project developed with the aim of taking career counselling to all parts of the country. It is the brainchild of Nirmaan, an NGO that was founded by a group of students in BITS Pilani in 2005 to help feed the children of mess workers in their college hostel. What started with a single helpline in one district of Andhra Pradesh in 2010 has now spread to six centres across AP, Telangana and Odisha. The project has a toll-free counselling helpline to guide underprivileged students and dropouts, especially those in rural India, on career choices, admissions, examination results, scholarships, education loans, etc. The helpline had already sent over 2,50,000 voice and text messages to students and answered over 2,30,000 calls by August of last year.

GPower: Protecting vulnerable adolescent girls from the clutches of child labour, early marriage, and more


GPower is a mobile-based data collecting and analysing tool to help girls in rural India make a healthy transition to adulthood. The tool has an IT-enabled system that identifies and tracks the issues adolescent girls can face, with the help of pre-set indicators and data management. A community facilitator records these indicators to get a clear picture on certain issues like education, health, nutrition, school drop-outs rates, early marriages, etc. This is done by going door-to-door and asking a set of questions. GPower then tracks the condition of the girls, provides real-time analysis to spot trends, and the team takes corrective measures by making the required interventions. An initiative of Child in Need Institute (CINI) based in Kolkata, GPower also provides counselling, vocational training, and coaching to many girls. According to CINI, 47% of Indian girls get married before the age of 18, 22% girls give birth before they turn 18, and one child goes missing every three seconds in West Bengal. Most of the latter cases end up in sex-trafficking. Since girls in rural India are at higher risk of facing such problems, GPower is trying to address the issues at source.

One example of such a case is Masida – a resident of Cheora village in West Bengal. Masida was only 12 when her parents started sending her to work as a domestic help for a family in Howrah district. When a community facilitator visited her house during a baseline survey for GPower, he parents said that Masida was staying with an aunt in Kolkata. Not satisfied with their response, the facilitator decided to keep an eye on them. Later, when Masida came home for Eid, she informed the facilitator that her employers used to beat her frequently and make her go without food for several days. But even after the facilitator counselled the family about the dangers of child labour, they sent Masida back. The facilitator didn’t give up. She continued to speak with the family until they were convinced and agreed to enrol her in school. Masida now goes to school and is an active member of the adolescent group under GPower. Till last year, GPower had been successful in preventing 15 child marriages; 26 girls who had dropped out of school were also re-admitted to formal schools.

DeHaat: Helping farmers increase their income


An information and communication technology-based solution, DeHaat aims to bring small and marginal farmers on one platform and help fulfil their requirements for seeds, fertilizers, equipment, market linkages, and more. The idea behind the app is to provide end-to-end services to farmers and connect them with agri input sellers, buyers of produce, etc. It is basically a one-stop solution for farmers to not only get the required information about how they can improve the quality and quantity of their produce, but also to find a place where they can purchase reliable products. DeHaat has been developed by Green Agrevolution Private Limited (Agrevolution), a company that works with thousands of farmers in Bihar.

Today, over 75,000 students have benefited from VidyaHelpLine; GPower has helped protect many girls from the clutches of child labour and human trafficking; and more than 6,000 farmers in Bihar and Odisha are using DeHaat. All this has been made possible with the support received from the Mobile for Good awards.

Vodafone Foundation has now announced the sixth edition of the awards, in association with NASSCOM Foundation.

Who can apply?

Eligible Social Enterprises, NGOs, For Profit Organisations & Government organisations can submit their applications.

‘Leading Change Maker – NPO Category’ and ‘Leading Change Maker – For Profit category’ are the two categories this year, with special category for Government solutions. Eleven winning innovations in four critical areas of Health, Education, Agriculture & Environment, and Women Empowerment & Inclusive Development will be recognized.

What do you get?

Six out of the 11 winners will be from the NGO category and will be awarded Rs. 15 lakh each (total award grant of INR 9 million), along with structured mentorship for a year from leading experts in the country. All winning apps will receive recognition on a national platform and will also be featured in the Social App Hub – India’s first and only platform for social apps.

Are you changing lives through your mobile solution? Are you creating an impact that can alter the future for our country? Is your mobile solution on the path to creating history?

Apply for the Mobile for Good Awards 2016 before September 15th at www.vodafone.in/mobileforgood and take a step toward transforming your personal commitment to bold, social impact. For details on application process and eligibility please refer to the website or write at – [email protected]

Featured image credit: Meena Kadri/Flickr

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