40-year-old Kumar Shivram Lokhande hails from the Haveli Taluka of Pune District, Maharashtra. Having undergone computer training and discovering his passion towards it, he decided to start a computer coaching centre. It was during this time he became aware of the digital divide that was a roadblock to the growth of his village. Well-versed in the latest technologies, Lokhande took it upon himself to make his village digitally literate.
Association with CSC Academy
He joined the CSC Academy, under the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY), in 2009 where he became aware of their various programs that deliver essential services and information about digital and financial literacy to remote areas. It motivated him to serve his community on a larger platform. Hence, he registered to be part of CSC’ network of Village Level Entrepreneurs (VLE). After undergoing training from the CSC Academy, Lokhande undertook his first project of imparting digital financial literacy.
On his visits to villages, he came across many villagers who faced increasing financial challenges and lacked an understanding of money management. Not only were they worried about their children’s educational expenses, but many didn’t know how to make their ends meet. Lokhande, however, was not discouraged by the challenge set before him. He was committed to make these villages financially literate.
Financial Literacy with ‘Jaadu Ginni Ka’
Over the last 13 years of his journey as a VLE, Lokhande, through Vodafone Idea’s ‘Jaadu Ginni Ka’ program focused on financial literacy and spread awareness on the need of financial management. ‘Jaadu Ginni Ka’, which is implemented in partnership with Learning Links Foundation, educates people on basic financial concepts such as investments, financial planning, digital financial tools, etc. The content offered is based on simple storytelling format and features engaging games and quizzes.
According to Lokhande, through the ‘Jaadu Ginni Ka’ program villagers feel empowered. They have a better understanding of ways to effectively manage their finances and secure their future.
Lokhande’ project of digital financial literacy gathered speed when he was selected to operate the technologically equipped mobile van recently launched by Vodafone Idea Foundation under its ‘Jaadu Ginni Ka’ program.
The mobile van is fitted with laptops, speakers, an LCD screen, and a generator. It allows Lokhande to travel to remote areas and educate villagers using audio and visual content. Villagers are also encouraged to step inside the mobile van and use the laptops to attempt interesting quizzes on financial literacy.
Impact on Ground
Lokhande takes pride in the impact that the financial literacy program has had at the grassroots level. He has visited over 138 neighboring villages in his block. Annually, he educates over 3000 villagers through the ‘Jaadu Ginni Ka’ program.
Lokhande has helped villagers apply for zero balance bank accounts, business loans, and mutual funds. He has also helped farmers take insurance to protect their tractors and crops. In the many villages he has visited, villagers now prefer cashless transactions through online platforms such as Paytm.
Awareness on COVID-19
Lokhande also repurposed the mobile van to conduct COVID awareness drives during the onset of the COVID pandemic and the resulting nationwide lockdown. The mobile van was utilized to distribute dry ration, masks, and sanitizers to families in need.
What does the future hold?
When asked what’s next for him as a VLE, Lokhande says, “My aspiration is to connect with more people from remote areas and direct them to the path of digital financial empowerment.”