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Company Feature
Published on: April 7, 2022, 3:27 p.m.
Gram Vaani: Voice of the voiceless
  • Gram Vaani helps people build communities through simple mobile phones

By Business India Editorial

In the past one decade, 3 million lives with over 150 partners spanning sectors in six countries have used social tech enterprise Gram Vaani’s innovative media platforms. ‘Mobile Vaani’ (MV) is Gram Vaani’s answer to building a free social media platform, equivalent to Twitter for rural areas, offering a rich voice stack – accessible using even a basic feature phone and other web or app-based channels. It aims to reverse the flow of information by providing voice-based, multi-channel, interactive media services to underserved populations in developing regions.

Gram Vaani’s tech platforms and programme innovations have been used to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals, spanning health & well-being, quality education, gender equality, decent work & economic growth and reduced inequalities. 

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Gram Vaani repurposed its platforms and collaborated with various organisations to facilitate emergency response through health information and link those in need of food, shelter, transportation and healthcare, or those facing challenges in access to critical services, touching the lives of over 1 million people across underserved communities. Its next challenge lies in leveraging its platforms and building local community champions with the objective of improving climate change resilience in the grassroots.

Over two-thirds of the Indian population is dependent on the primary sector – rain-fed agriculture, cattle rearing, fishing and forests-based minor production – at a small-scale or subsistence level. In the wake of climate change, these livelihoods have become unpredictable and uncertain. Socially and geographically disadvantaged groups are particularly negatively affected by climate change and climate-related hazards. 

Access to news and information 

MV provides an outlet for community members in digitally dark areas to access local news and information about relevant schemes and services to help improve their lives. MV engages sections such as farmers, herdsmen, fishermen and other individuals, who rely on natural resources and factors for livelihoods, across 20+ states, in vernacular and voice-first tech solutions.

Over 20 per cent listeners are women and they report high ease of using the MV platform, even when using a smartphone or when they’re using a phone shared with a family member. People, whose voices are often unheard, can share their opinions, hear from each other and build communities through simple mobile phones. SDG achievement is possible only through more collaborative & participatory approaches that the communities adopt. 

Gram Vaani, registered as OnionDev Technologies, provides voice-based (multi-channel accessible) interactive media services to underserved populations in developing regions, with a mission to reverse the flow of information. 

For MV, the company has built an intelligent interactive voice response system that allows people to call a number and leave a message about their community or listen to messages left by others. Its flagship deployments, operating in over 25+ districts across multiple states, service over 100,000 monthly unique users

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