World Space Week: Bringing equitable access to technology incubates entrepreneurship for indigenous women

As satellites continue to provide internet connectivity to underserved communities, digital literacy skills are needed to take full advantage of this newfound connectivity.

PSYDEH Hero Image - World Space Week

With this year’s World Space Week’s theme of “Space and Entrepreneurship” we are revisiting a story that highlights the unique way in which space technology is empowering budding entrepreneurs in remote regions of the world.

Empowering indigenous women through digital literacy education

Indigenous women living in Mexico face a unique set of challenges due to their lack of access to resources, including the hardware, power and digital literacy required to access the internet.

Additionally, women in these undeserved communities often don’t have equal access to education or job opportunities. Supplying the resources and knowledge on how to use the internet is a life-changing opportunity – one that the non-profit organization Psicología y Derechos Humanos (PSYDEH) is on a mission to provide.

Based in Hidalgo, Mexico, PSYDEH (pronounced “see-day”) is partnering with Viasat employee volunteers to help bring access to the internet and technology to women living in underserved areas of Mexico.

Teamwork delivers results for the most marginalized

To bridge the digital divide, Viasat and PSYDEH, with implementation support from Team4Tech, brought a suite of resources to PSYDEH’s headquarters, including computers, solar kits, and financial support. Team4Tech is a nonprofit impact accelerator whose mission is to bridge the digital equity gap in education to create inclusion and opportunities for under-resourced learners around the world.

With the tools in place, Viasat also provided the critical satellite internet connectivity. With the skills, knowledge, and passion of Viasat employees, PSYDEH and Viasat aim to create a wealth of new opportunities to communities across Mexico.

“Viasat has really amazing technology that continues to blow my mind, and with that comes a big responsibility. We’re truly committing to our mission – connecting the unconnected,” said one of Viasat’s volunteers working with PSYDEH, Nacho Cardozo.

To effectively use this newly donated technology requires digital literacy. Through Viasat’s skills-based volunteering program, 12 Viasat employees traveled to Mexico to teach PSYDEH’s staff specialized skills that indigenous women will need to explore educational resources, find jobs and potentially become entrepreneurs themselves.

Over the course of ten days, Viasat employees shared their expertise on small business digital marketing, digital literacy, and hardware implementation with PSYDEH. Armed with this knowledge, PSYDEH aims to strengthen their mission.

Empowering entrepreneurs

The indigenous women of Mexico are entrepreneurial, artistic, and eager to get their locally produced goods out into the world. The ornate embroidery, woodworking, and hand-woven blankets and clothing that are unique to their culture also have a mass-market appeal. They just need access to new markets and the know-how on how to engage them.

Viasat’s small business marketing experts worked with the PSYDEH field staff and local community members to educate them on how to create impactful brands. The goal is to help PSYDEH convey these methodologies to local women and give them the tools to establish and grow on online business creatively and effectively from the ground-up.

The Viasat team hosted workshops covering marketing fundamentals along with hands-on activities like taking and promoting product photos and creating Facebook/Instagram reels – skills that can be expanded and integrated quickly.

Digital literacy training

With the boost that comes from Viasat’s satellite broadband connection, PSYDEH can better execute its mission, but having access and equipment is ineffective unless people know how to use it properly. The digital literacy taught fundamental skills people need to use technology and provided a scalable model to allow PSYDEH to reproduce the training in the future.

Building for the future

At the end of the 10-day project, the team installed nine access points at six sites, along with a plan for PSYDEH to troubleshoot, maintain, and install hardware for its members and the surrounding community in the future. Other key efforts included providing PSYDEH with the skills and expertise to build upon for sustainable success.

Through their collective efforts and expertise, Viasat’s volunteer program has been able to find better ways to create opportunities for marginalized indigenous women in Mexico. As Viasat’s Allison Znachko, puts it, “this is different than other types of volunteering I’ve done. It’s more than just dropping off the internet and leaving. It’s using my skills I actually use every day at work. It’s much more powerful.”

Thanks to Viasat and PSYDEH’s shared mission and collaboration, more women in Mexico are now equipped with the resources and knowledge to create a better future for themselves and their community. At our core, Viasat is always looking for better ways to connect people, business and communities and will continue to evolve our skills-based volunteering program and bring it to communities who need it most.

Read more about Viasat’s commitment to digital inclusion.