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Taking the Internet to the villages and empowering rural India with information at the click of a button is what best describes ITC's much acclaimed initiative - e-Choupal.
Places computers with Internet access in rural farming villages
Farmers can use the computer to access daily closing prices on local mandis, as well as to track global price trends or find information about new farming techniques - either directly or, because many farmers are illiterate, via the sanchalak.
Use the e-Choupal to order seed, fertilizer, and other products such as consumer goods from ITC or its partners, at prices lower than those available from village traders
Homemaker to Income-builder Bhatoura village. Sursa block. Hardoi, Uttar Pradesh. Rambeti was just another homemaker from a backward group till her friends and neighbours convinced her to join their self-help group, Shilpika. They even coaxed her to be one of the office-bearers. Shilpika, with the help of ITC and its partner NGO, worked on a simple mandate – to upgrade the Chikankari skills of local women and connect them to markets. Rambeti was instrumental in getting a Master Chikan craftsman to train 50 Shilpika members in the intricacies of the craft that would fetch them far better remuneration than the Rs 50 to Rs 100 they usually earned for a month of backbreaking work. As the project gathered momentum, it was evident that the self- help groups needed 'Sanchalikas' – caretakers – for the Chikan production centres. Rambeti was the natural choice for her group. They also started participating in exhibitions to promote their products. Today, her group earns a cumulative wage of Rs 70,000 per annum and has made profits of Rs 52,000. The profit first goes towards repayment of their loans. Residual profits are shared among the group members. Since the loans are disbursed from a rotating fund provided by ITC, repayment enables other beneficiaries to participate in this virtuous cycle. Rambeti has been instrumental in setting up another production group called Kashida. Across several states in India, ITC is helping thousands of women like Rambeti help themselves.