Established in 2002, Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) is a not-for-profit social enterprise that empowers people at the edge of information, including marginalised and underserved communities.

DEF’s overarching cross-cutting goal is to end information poverty by ensuring access to information for all. DEF does this in various ways including the use of digital tools and infrastructure, connectivity and Internet.

One of DEF’s flagship programmes is to establish Community Information Resource Centres (CIRCs) in rural and semi-urban areas that are community-owned and managed, and equipped with broadband enabled basic digital infrastructure. These CIRCs spread digital literacy at little or no cost to empower information-dark communities to use digital tools and avail a whole range of digital services to meet their day to day requirements.

CIRCs also implement other projects that enable education services, entrepreneurship development and skilling, tele-medicine, empowering below-poverty-line people to know about and avail government welfare schemes, ensure conservation of natural resources, and promote culture and heritage.

Various DEF projects also empower village level local government bodies, schools, micro-enterprises, civil society organisations, primary health centres, public libraries and other entities to become digitally enabled and capable of availing all the benefits of the Information Age.

In almost all its projects DEF pays special attention to women’s empowerment. Some projects are, however, devoted entirely to enabling rural women and women entrepreneurs, especially tribal women and those living in backward districts, become digitally literate and capable of using digital tools and the Internet to improve their lives and their businesses.

Some of the programmes that have critically impacted women are Wireless for Communities, Mobile for Good, Mobile for Social & Behaviour Change, and Digital Literacy.

DEF has so far empowered more than 1 million people to use digital tools for bettering their lives. Through its awards and mentorship programmes, DEF identifies and honours innovations and best practices in the field of ICT for Development (ICTD) across all digital media and has successfully created a knowledge hub and database of more than 5,000 such innovations across India, & South Asia

DEF’s advocacy and research projects seek to promote more intensive use of digital tools, access for all to the Internet and the right to information.

The Indian social media scene represents a fast-emerging and influential domain of information exchange involving nearly 60% of the 83 million Internet users in the country. While Facebook and Orkut continue to dominate the social media scene, Twitter and some other Indian micro-blogging websites are also becoming very popular. The rising significance of social media in India is demonstrated by the fact that almost all the conventional media have registered their presence on the social networking websites.

The use of social media by Indians was first highlighted during the 2008 Mumbai attacks, when Twitter and Flickr became the media through which much information about the attacks reached Indians and the outside world. The second mass use of social media in India was the May 2009 national elections, when, for the first time, online voter registration and transparency campaigns started. The political parties tried to reach out to first time voters through social networking websites.

Being the most popular social media platform in India with more than 62 million users ,1 Facebook is the favorite playground for social media-savvy organizations in India to banter in everyday conversations and organize engaging promotions and contests for fans. According to study conducted by E&Y, 89.6% of all surveyed organizations placed Facebook as the most important platform for engagement. Interestingly, there were more than 100 Facebook campaigns in India in 2012, which translates to more than 8 campaigns running simultaneously per month.

Social media, along with heavy digitization, has invigorated the usage of mobile apps. Smartphone users in India use their phones to browse the internet, access social networking sites, play games, etc. Approximately, one-third of the Facebook users in India access the site using their mobile devices. To capture the attention of the smartphone users, social media-savvy organizations are extending their engagement on to mobile. Half of our surveyed organizations have created mobile phone apps, while more than a quarter plans to create one.

While social media users in Pakistan are the haves as they are in the US and the UK. Just as in these other countries, Facebook is the most popular social networking site, followed by Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus and Pinterest. Thus, when it comes to social media, internet users in Pakistan are treading the same path as an international social media user would, according to study conducted by B Solutions, Technology Times.

Facebook brand pages are becoming popular among industry stakeholders in Pakistan. Google and Freelancer have their country managers in Pakistan. The blogging community is active and mostly works with US websites for content generation. The country has a lot of potential in e-commerce business and travel websites and this will continue to be explored in the coming few years. Recently online shopping has seen an upward trend and Facebook pages are a main source of inspiration for retail businesses.

In gender proportionality, there are 69 percent male and 31 percent female social media users in Pakistan. Though figures might differ from one country to another, but even in terms of gender proportionality, there are more male online users than female in other states too, including the US and the UK. It points out that an average social media user in Pakistan lives in a higher income household, which is different than in most other countries, where social media is available even to lower income groups.

As a developing country, Bangladesh is also feeling the social heat. More than 0.9 million people are now connected through Facebook. Though Twitter hasn’t fascinated citizens of Bangladesh that much, Community Blog has been a great hit here with SomewhereinBlog leading the path and charting the course of blogging history. Bangla discussion forum like Projanmo, Amaderprojukti has been a common place for netizens from Bangladesh.

It is estimated that, more than 5 million peoples are connected to the stream of web. This has been a sharp rise from the standing of 0.5 million back in 2005. Lower broadband cost and pro-IT government approach are all contributing to this every increasing crowd of Bangladeshis.

While end users are showing promptness in grabbing online life, Corporations are lagging behind, in a shameful manner. Corporate Marketing still don’t address the issue of “social media” to that extent. Though there exist good reasons for paying attention to this “new media”, it is really a pressing question why corporations are still laggards?

According to study conducted by eMarketers, 97% of the Non-profits are heavily engaged in social media while only 80% of corporate sectors are paying attention to this . Corporate sector in Bangladesh is not different from the global trend. However, none of the major brands has any department/ dedicated to social media and any obvious strategy to utilize the potentials of this internet boon. The only hope exists is the Fan page of Radio Foorti at Facebook. They are doing really a good job conversing with their audiences. Surely they will be rewarded nicely in near future.

With the increase in accessibility and availability of the internet, use of social media is on the rise in Nepal. This has enlarged the professional and personal spheres of individuals. However, this has also created a divide where individuals with internet skills and access can utilise the web-based devices and services to enhance their presence in the cyberspace and use it to their personal advancement and professional growth. Though this divide is slowly getting narrowed; the internet penetration rate is only 16.67% in Nepal, according to April 2012 data of the Nepal Telecommunications Authority. There are about 1.9 million Facebook users from Nepal. Given Nepal’s youth population, it’s worth thinking that most of these users are young, educated, internet-savvy Nepalis who aspire for a better, more democratic Nepal. Social media allows them to take part in conversations, discussions and debates about issues that potentially shape the future that they want for themselves in Nepal.

With this senario,Social Media,undoubtedly will grow like unicorn in near future.

osama
Osama Manzar

Founder & Director, Digital Empowerment Foundation

shalini
Shalini Kala

Independent Consultant

mridula
Mridula Chandra

Secretary & Chief Executive at Health & Social Development Research Centre

amir
Amir Ullah Khan

Senior Policy Advisor Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

shifali
Shaifali Chikarmane

Director, Inomy Media Pvt. Ltd

rajan
Rajen Varada

CEO, Open Knowledge Community