This profile was prepared when Satyan Mishra was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2004.
The New Idea
Rural villages in India are often cut off from the outside world; without any local government outposts, it’s hard for villagers to find accurate information about government benefits, trade and exchange rates, or health care. To help bring these isolated villages into the global information network, Satyan has created a system of service kiosks where people can access public internet terminals and receive information pamphlets at low cost. The kiosk owners are drawn from the local community and selected for their civic-mindedness to ensure that villagers won’t be overcharged for accessing information. Satyan trains and helps each kiosk owner, providing him with capital, holding his hand, and monitoring his progress. Public demand determines the range of products and services offered, which may include government data, agricultural data and commodity prices, medical and health information, insurance products, and photo facilities. Although the initial model is a one-way, service model, bringing city goods to the countryside, Satyan sees a future for a two-way channel, where rural products and services are made available to the urban population.