Google and Tata approach the last mile

A common hurdle for businesses--or initiatives of any sort--seeking to reach the broad base of consumers at the middle of the economic diamond is reaching people who have been isolated due to location, mobility issues, cultural barriers, or a combination of factors. You can have an outstanding product or service, but if your intended audience can't access it, it will fail in the "last mile" of distribution.

Google and the Tata Trusts recently rolled out a new initiative to overcome the barriers to women in rural India accessing and utilizing the Internet. I enjoyed this description of the project, “Internet Saathi” (saathi meaning friend in Hindi) at Tech In Asia.

In this case the keys to the approach are a fleet of bicycles, a cadre of trainers from local NGOs, and free advice to individual clusters of rural villages provided for several days a week over a period of months. Internet Saathi hopes to reach 45,000 villages and 5,000,000 women in rural communities over the next 18 months, and we will be interested to watch it's progress. In the meantime, we'd love to know your ideas about ways to overcome the last mile barriers you are familiar with.

Image source: Tech In Asia

-- Clara Shen

Youth, technology, and the future of farming

Monitoring and evaluation at the middle of the diamond