“Together, we can empower countless lives, unlock untapped potential, and create a brighter, more inclusive future for all,” says Krishna, a young entrepreneur from Assam.
Krishna Thapa is the Centre Facilitator of Smartpur Digital Centre, at Simen Chapori village in Dhemaji, Assam. He is all of 24 years and hails from a humble family in the village of Telam Nepali, located in Dhemaji. This is a place that holds a special significance in his heart. For Krishna, life has not always been easy, as he faced financial struggles since his childhood, but that never deterred to shatter his dreams.
From a very young age, he had a deep fascination with the world of digital technology. He was captivated by its potential and the possibilities it held. However, due to the financial constraints, he couldn’t pursue his passion directly. Despite this setback, he never lost hope. After completion of his school examination he went to Bengaluru, the Silicon Valley of India, to join a course in Web Designing. It was there that he had believed that he could gain the technical skills and experience that he craved. His journey in Bengaluru was not without challenges. He had to work at night to support himself while attending classes during the day. The long hours and the sacrifices were worth it. He had completed one year of Computer Diploma along with Web Development over the course of two years in Bengaluru.
After completion of his course, he returned to his hometown with newfound sense of responsibility enveloped him. He understood the power of education and its ability to transform lives. He was eager to share his knowledge and make a difference and thus he began teaching computer education to students in various institutions on a part-time basis. This allowed him to support his own college expenses and help his family, financially as well.
He aspired to provide proper technical education to the people in the entire area, who had limited opportunities for digital learning. He dreamt of starting his own centre and becoming an entrepreneur. Due to lack of financial support, he could not afford a new laptop, which seemed like an insurmountable obstacle in his path to entrepreneurship.
Fortune works in mysterious ways. A ray of hope came along, when he came across the Smartpur Digital Project, an initiative of Bal Raksha Bharat (also known as Save the Children), supported by Nokia. This initiative had provided the opportunity he had been waiting for. Bal Raksha Bharat in collaboration with Nokia, have developed the capacity of rural entrepreneurs like Krishna, by giving them an opportunity to run one-stop digital centres to digitally equip rural localities. Through this initiative, Krishna had received a laptop, a desktop, a solar panel and a digital printer as an initial investment, that had helped him in running the SMARTPUR centre.
“I am forever grateful to Bal Raksha Bharat Children and Nokia for their visionary initiative that has played a pivotal role in digitalizing rural India. Their support and commitment to digital inclusion and creating employment opportunities for rural communities have had a profound impact on my journey”, said a dreamy-eyed Krishna.
Managing the centre came with its own set of challenges, especially with limited infrastructure. With support from his team and community mobilizers, he employed marketing techniques and witnessed a remarkable growth in the number of beneficiaries within just a few months. He had reinvested the revenue generated from his business, paving the way for expansion and the improvement of his services. It was a labour of love and dedication, driven by his unwavering commitment to make a difference in the lives of those around him.
Through his journey, Krishna has come to realize that success is not measured solely by financial gains or personal achievements. It is about the lives one touches, the knowledge one imparts and the empowerment one brings to individuals.
He is now filled with a sense of purpose and a deep-rooted desire to expand his impact further. As he looks towards the future, he envisions collaborating with like-minded individuals and organizations to establish more centres and bridge the digital divide in rural India.
Nokia and Save the Children India (Bal Raksha Bharat) have forged a partnership since 2014 to create ideal smart villages, in line with Government of India’s vision of Digital India. The model acknowledges that mere availability of digital tools and Internet connectivity alone does not make a village smart; hence emphasis has been given towards integration and optimum utilisation of resources for social, ecological and economic impact that truly makes a difference and digitally strengthens development. SMARTPUR is focused across six pillars of intervention, Education, Health, Livelihood, Governance, Finance and Entertainment.
In India the SMARTPUR project is being implemented by Bal Raksha Bharat across five states of Assam- Dhemaji, Maharashtra- Nashik, Andhra Pradesh- Nellore, Rajasthan-Dungarpur and in the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir. A total of 150 such centers have come up till date that has a youth Centre Facilitator.