Earlier this year, search giant Google had come out with Google Impact Challenge in India to celebrate creativity and entrepreneurship in the world's largest democracy. As part of the challenge, the company was selecting the best local non-profit organisations that are using technology to improve people's lives and at the end of the challenge, it would provide Rs 3 crore (around $500,000) 'Global Impact Award' to each of them and mentoring to deliver on their project.
The company has now come out with a list of the 10 finalists, along with their project goals, which tackle problems ranging from rural education to agricultural development to sanitation. Google is also showcasing videos (that it has helped the NGOs create) about each of these project on its website, which can be viewed here. Here is a quick look at the select tech-enabled NGOs:
Agastya: Plans to launch a network of motorbike science labs that are staffed by trained teachers and equipped with cutting-edge technology to address the lack of science equipment and digital resources for rural children. It will also train local teachers on how to incorporate hands-on science into their classrooms.
Breakthrough: Aims to launch and scale a data-driven digital toolkit to enable anyone to launch an effective campaign to reduce gender-based violence. Over the next three years, the NGO wants to reach out to five million people with information about violence against women and what they can do to stop it.
Chintan Environmental Research & Action Group: Plans to develop an online marketplace and integrated mobile app to organise waste pickers and address the growing problem of trash in New Delhi. This online platform will connect waste generators and waste recyclers to provide a socially and environmentally sustainable solution that improves the livelihood of waste handlers and curbs pollution.
Digital Green: Wants to scale a video hub and an online knowledge platform to help farmers gain the agricultural skills they need to lower their costs and increase their productivity. Digital Green will train farmers to become community knowledge workers and enable them to share locally relevant agricultural skills with their peers.
Going to School Fund: Aims to create open source mobile games to teach entrepreneurship skills to children in the country. These games will provide lessons in business, economics, teamwork and communications.
Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship & Democracy: Will create online and mobile apps to connect citizens to their government representatives in urban India. These apps will allow users to provide faster, detailed feedback directly to their representatives, helping to close the existing information gaps.
Pratham Books: Wants to build a collaborative, open platform that lets people share, translate and create children's e-books to provide kids with easy access to language-appropriate reading materials. Over three years, it plans to create 20,000 new e-books in at least 25 languages.
Prayas Energy Group: Plans to deploy a network of real-time sensors to monitor power supply provided by utility companies and improve power distribution quality in India. Consumers, civil societies, researchers and regulatory commissions will have open access to this information and can use it to increase accountability of electric utilities.
Shelter Associates: Will conduct digital mapping of urban slums to identify service gaps. These findings will be available online for partners, governments and civil societies to improve the efficiency and transparency of sanitation resources in slums.
Social Awareness, Newer Alternatives: Wants to combine solar-powered micro-ionising water purification and biodigesting technology to improve water and sanitation infrastructure for rural villages. These systems will purify local water sources to provide clean drinking water and the waste water generated will power new community toilets.
"In the venture world you sometimes come across an idea and just know in an instant that it has the break-through model, exceptional team and scalable business plan needed to make a huge impact on the world. Each of the 10 non-profit finalists has the potential to build a positive change in India. They only need support to do so," said Ram Shriram, board member, Google.
On October 31, a panel of judges that includes Ram Shriram; Nikesh Arora, chief business officer, Google; Jacquelline Fuller, director of giving at Google; Anu Aga, business woman and social worker; and Jayant Sinha, managing director of Omidyar Network India Advisors, will hear live pitches from all 10 finalists and select three Global Impact Awards winners.
In addition, from now until 11:59 pm October 30 2013, the public can also cast their votes for a fourth winner in the 'Fan Favourite' category. The fan favourite winner will also be announced along with the other three winners on October 31.
"As judges, we will select three awardees based on their potential impact, scalability and ingenuity. We will also announce the winner of the Fan Favourite award, according to public vote," said Arora.
(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)