Self-confidence and the belief that one can and should tackle new and difficult things is an under-addressed barrier to economic participation – especially for women, who are often marginalized and restricted from public life in rural India. GOAL (Going Online As Leaders) is a mentorship program for rural and tribal women and girls that understands this, and works to simultaneously address this barrier while providing high-quality technical skills and language training to mentees.

First trained in 2019, GOAL has had a clear impact on the lives of both its mentors and mentees. In 2019, we connected 100 of young women from rural communities across India with 20 urban, professional women to create strong support networks and safe learning communities for new skills. To say these support networks had a life-changing effect on mentees is to say the least. Along with measurable increases in their technological skills, mentees reported a notable increase in their desire to take on prominent roles in their community and work for social betterment. Mentees attributed this to their mentors, who they said were often the first people not to laugh at their dreams.

The success of GOAL 2019 led to its adoption by the Indian Ministry of Tribal Affairs, who have implemented a greatly expanded version of GOAL over the last several years. Now, DEF is returning to launch the latest version of GOAL, which retains the close mentorship and high quality skill training that were hallmarks of GOAL 2019 while incorporating new emphases on English-language ability and global exposure. By partnering with transnational mentors selected by the U.S. India Policy Institute, GOAL 3.0 goes further than ever in expanding mentee horizons and providing them the materials and support they need to be game-changers in their communities.

  • Self-Confidence – Women and girls in rural India often are expected to organize their lives around their families, and are prevented from taking part in work outside the home. Women may have lower levels of education, which contributes to their belief that they are not able to take on less traditional work. By connecting these women to successful businesswomen, we provide positive role models and support systems where they are desperately needed.
  • Digital Enablement – Since Digital Enablement is paramount in the current digital era, we increase livelihood opportunities by introducing digital tools & ICT learning aimed at digital empowerment and entrepreneurship as opposed to mere digital literacy.
  • Livelihood and Entrepreneurship – We aim to help the mentees prove to themselves and the world around them that with the right kind of support they are perfectly capable of being financially secure and can contribute to society and the economy.
  • Building Leadership – It is all about taking action. We aim to enable the mentees to be change makers in their societies & creators of the future; bringing to the fore issues that concern them.
  • Engaging the Larger Community – Alongside DEF and their mentors, mentees will work to initiate socio-behavioural, cultural and economic changes within their broader community.