Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) is a New-Delhi based NGO. It was set up in 2002 with the belief that marginalized communities living in socio-economic backwardness and information poverty can be empowered and improve their lives on their own, simply by providing them access to information and knowledge on how to use digital tools. And so, in 2002, DEF was registered as a not-for-profit organisation under the Indian Societies Registration Act, 1860, to carry out this mission of empowering people digitally.
Today, DEF is one of the world’s leading practitioners in the field of Information & Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D). Its Founder and Director, Osama Manzer, is globally recognised as an expert in this field and he, or DEF as an organisation, is a member of several national and international government and non-government bodies, expert panels and task forces engaged in promoting a digitally-empowered and information-rich society.
Through all its diverse activities, DEF seeks to help people living in information darkness overcome the information barrier, learn how to use digital tools and the Internet to achieve greater socio-economic equality by uplifting themselves almost on their own using the power of digital devices to access information and knowledge.
So far, DEF has empowered more than one million hitherto marginalised people living in information darkness and socio-economically backward areas to become digitally literate and access the Internet. It has also enabled more than 5,000 entities such as civil society organisations, micro-enterprises, schools, public libraries, heritage sites and village-level local government bodies to adopt digital tools, set up their own websites and avail all possible benefits of an information-rich society in the age of information, created and driven by the architecture of information & communication technologies and the global digital and knowledge revolution. It has also created a knowledge network and database of more than 7,500 ICTD interventions and practitioners across India, South Asia and the Asia Pacific region through its various award platforms that discover, recognise and honour innovators using different digital media.
DEF has adopted a multi-stakeholder and multi-dimensional approach based on establishing community-owned and community-managed digital infrastructure and Internet access points in rural and semi-urban areas which operate in such a way that the entire community can avail the benefits of access to the Internet and the global information highway. This is done not only by establishing common Internet access points with all basic digital infrastructure such as computers, laptops, tablets, printers, photo printers, scanners, web cameras, etc. but also by spreading digital literacy among the masses either free of cost or at very affordable prices.
Today, DEF is present in 150 locations spread across 80 districts of 22 states in India through common access points called Community Information Resource Centres (CIRCs). These community-owned and community-managed access points also enable DEF to roll out various other digital interventions across several dimensions with the overarching goal of empowering citizens, governments, businesses and civil society organisations by enabling them to use digital tools and access the Internet.
Over the years, DEF’s work has evolved to cover six programmatic verticals or major work areas under which several projects have been launched. These programmatic areas are:
1. Access & Infrastructure
2. Governance & Entitlements
3. Education & Empowerment
4. Markets & Social Enterprises
5. Knowledge Hub & Network
6. Research & Advocacy
For more information about DEF please visit