In a Place with No Power and No Internet - Creating Women-Led Digital Community Centers

Community Meeting, San Luis Chicoyou, Cobán
  • Maria Xí woke up at 4 am in the dark while the rest of her family slept. She rushed to clean her house, wash clothes, cook breakfast and prepare lunch ahead. She was tired but motivated. Today, there was a woman’s leadership meeting and a free workshop on how to use a computer. This is the challenge for indigenous women whose husbands don’t share responsibilities at home.
  • Maria Xi and other women learn from other local indigenous women and their young kids who are not afraid to touch a computer. Access and explanations in Q’eqchí, their native language, make absorbing new skills easier and computers feel less foreign.
  • After over a year, women are hearing from male community leaders that the DDCs have had a “tremendous” positive impact and that they need to do more to support the women and centers.

In 2021, New Sun Road worked with communities in the Guatemalan highlands of Alta Verapaz and established Women’s Leadership Committees (WLC) to support and operate Digital Community Centers (DCCs). With funding from Microsoft and USAID, New Sun Road installed 10 integrated PV systems, Stellar IS, to power and provided internet to establish the DCC centers. For the people in these rural communities, the results have been transformative.

Learning powerpoint at the Digital Community Center in Guatemala
  • Over 5,000 DCC users were served across this region which is a full day’s bus ride from the provincial capital.

  • Over 14,486 services were provided such as internet access, digital skills training, entrepreneurial classes, and printing.

  • 192 Mayan women were organized to manage the DCCs as their own entrepreneurial activity; more than half of the centers are operating at break-even or better.

  • In total, 1377 women and girls have been trained, 215 girls below 15 years old, 343 young women between 15 and 24 years old and 819 women older than 24.

Laura Cucul who is active in her local Women’s Leadership Committee and is a trainer commented “I’m very grateful for the implementation of a DCC in my community, before the DCC I was not working or using my skills to do things related to technology, I just helped my family at home. I’m a trained teacher, but we do not have job opportunities here. At the DCC I can work and help my community which I really enjoy”.

We are grateful for a strong partnership network including local support from UN Women, Mercy Corps, Rotary Club, and Plan International, local governmental agencies and leaders, and content providers such as Britannica.

In 2022, New Sun Road established another 10 women-led DCCs in Huehuetenango and we have funding to deploy another 10 in 2023. New Sun Road and its partners are just getting started – with plans to build 100’s more in Guatemala and extend Stellar IS to power centers in Mexico and East Africa this year.

Digital Literacy Program implementation, San Antonio IV, Carchá