Going digital for your day-to-day needs has become the norm nowadays, especially for the younger generation. Millennials find it convenient to shop, pay bills, order food, buy movie tickets online, however, the older generation may find it difficult to use new technology.
Empowerji, a unique brand in India, is focused on enabling senior citizens how to use technology. Founded by Aparna Thakker, the startup has built multi-lingual basic learning videos in Hindi, Marathi, English, Gujarati.
Bridging the gap
Thakker says that Empowerji is driven by the commitment to connect elderly people with precisely the kind of services they are looking for. “We do so by leveraging technology and investing in constant innovations to offer awareness and general digital literacy,” she says.
Empowerji is mainly inspired by first-hand experiences from people close to her. “The convenience that technology brings is undeniable, but I observed that senior citizens shy away from using it, so I thought that if there is someone to simplify technology for seniors, it may not be as daunting for them to adopt it in their daily life,” she says.
There is a common myth that technology is for youngsters. “In fact, seniors can significantly improve their lives with technology but for most of the senior population, using apps, sites and devices does not come naturally and people don’t have the time to patiently teach their parents. Which is why I founded Empowerji which literally means empowering the ji’s (aunty-jis and uncle-jis) in our lives.”
Empowerji is aimed at bridging the gap between seniors and technology so that they can live happier independent lives. “When people come to our workshops, they are unsure about doing simple tasks with the help of their mobile phones. We give them hands-on coaching on how to use smartphones, apps and sites. We give them notes to refer to post the workshop and also keep a Whatsapp group active to discuss issues,” she says adding that everyday technology is no big deal, it just requires patience and practice to learn.
When asked how does the app work, Thakker says that since seniors need repeated help to master new tech processes, the Empowerji App teaches them how to use technology in video format which they can play anytime anywhere.
“The Empowerji App is a free one-of-a-kind multi-lingual technology learning app which is currently available in English, Hindi, Marathi and Gujarati. It is available for download in the iOS and Android app stores,” she says adding that soon they will be launching services in the e-learning and tech support space for seniors.
Lessons on cyber crime
These days we often hear about senior citizens being a target for cyber crimes, and since Empowerji is teaching them technology, Thakker says that she feels it is their moral duty to also teach them about cyber security.
“Every workshop ends with a lesson on online safety where we discuss common frauds and safe practices, and also conduct cyber security sessions where we go deeper into cyber frauds, criminal minds, precautions and what to do in case you are a victim,” she explains.
Having previously co-founded an education-based technology company, Thakker was very clear what she wanted to achieve with the Empowerji app and learning platform. She says that the app teaches people how to use other apps and for a target group that is not tech savvy. “Through our workshops, positive word-of-mouth and other offline activities, we are trying to reach our audience,” says she.
At present, the app serves customers located across India and receives data from seminars in Mumbai. The company will soon be expanding its services to other parts of the country and will be increasing the number of seminars in the next six months.
Empowerji also aims to bring more customers on-board to find answers to all their needs through the portal. Within a short span of time the number of downloads for Empowerji app has crossed 10,000 and is increasing day by day. We aim to see greater digital literacy rate among senior citizens.
Empowerji’s model is based on Freemium model with a subscription service. The app is free for most of the tech learning content can be downloaded from Google Play and iOS App Store.