The Amazing Inclusion Story Behind India’s Digital Transformation

As a young woman living in a rural area of Karnataka, a state located in the south western region of India, Manjula Naganur knew that education was critical to achieving her dream of a career in government administration. After completing training and education courses at Code Unnati, she joined a fintech company and now is pursuing her post-graduate studies.

“I gained a greater understanding of what organizations expect from job candidates,” said Naganur. “The courses in software development, marketing, communications, English, banking, and problem-solving have provided me with valuable knowledge to stand out in a competitive market, giving me greater career opportunities.”

Naganur is among the over 1 million students educated at Code Unnati since SAP Labs India launched the program four years ago. So far, it has trained over 1 million students ages 10 to 16 years in digital literacy; 65% of these children and adolescents were girls.

Partnerships Scale Equitable Digital Training

Code Unnati is among SAP’s global corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, in this case, supporting India’s digital readiness commitment. SAP Labs India works with partners in government as well as the non-profit and private sectors, including customers and education, to bridge the immense digital divide between people in the country’s urban and rural communities. In addition to a digital-rich learning curriculum, the program offers students the opportunity for internships and employment at SAP.

“We have the incredible opportunity to help transform India from a developing to a developed economy,” said Sindhu Gangadharan, senior vice president and managing director of SAP Labs India. “We’re driving significant engagements to support the digital-first mindset that’s reflected across numerous government initiatives. Code Unnati builds digital literacy among youth and equips them with employable skills for workforce readiness, particularly beyond large, metropolitan areas.”

A total of over 6,000 youth have participated in the vocational curriculum, which includes learning future IT skills, such as data science and analytics, and next-gen technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Most importantly, an average of over 40% of program graduates obtain jobs after program completion.

Responsible, Inclusive Use of Technology

Code Unnati reflects just about every one of the Indian government’s “digital readiness for the next billion” commitment, notably talent development, amped up investments in research and development, innovations for both India and the world, and inclusiveness. The National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM) is among the groups leading this initiative, working with the government and companies like SAP.

“We want to leverage technology as best as possible to solve some of India’s biggest challenges,” said Debjani Ghosh, president of NASSCOM. “As we bring technology into pretty much everything we do, it can become an equalizer, as long as we start at the design stage to make sure that it’s truly inclusive across sectors, regardless of rural or urban, gender, culture, or religion.”

Digital Literacy for India’s Specific Needs

Although India is digitally transforming like the rest of the world, the magnitude of its revolution is much bigger in scale and scope compared to many other regions. Ghosh said that talent development is among the government’s highest priorities, helping to build the population’s digital skills through public-private sector partnerships that provide training and education, mentoring, and internships.

“Whether you call it a challenge or an opportunity, India has an amazing diversity of socioeconomic levels, cultures, religions, and languages,” she said. “We’re committed to partnering with the government and companies like SAP to build and foster ecosystems that use accelerators, mentorships, hackathons, and other opportunities to drive the IT charter for India.”

Community-Wide Purpose Plus Business Profit

More than anything, Code Unnati reflects a commitment to purposeful business that positively impacts people’s lives.

“It’s not just about bringing technology into pretty much everything we do to make things easier and personalized, but also that we build and use the technology responsibly,” said Ghosh.

Democratizing technology education is also central to SAP’s purpose-driven mission, helping organizations become intelligent enterprises using SAP Business Technology Platform. Spearheading Code Unnati with funds and resources from customers, partners, and its own employees, SAP is also at the forefront of India’s mission to provide disadvantaged students with digital skills for their future, as well as India’s.

“We’ve been able to quickly scale and achieve meaningful business outcomes with partners focusing on purpose plus profit,” said Gangadharan. “We’re helping everyone lift up society for the sustainable change that’s much needed in India.”

In this context, Naganur’s singular educational experience is a shining example of the tremendous opportunities in store for India’s next billion people with digital empowerment.


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This story originally appeared on SAP BrandVoice on Forbes.