America, May 28, 2008
Empowering social change with technology
Back when I was Director of Geekcorps, we focused on developing appropriate technology to increase economic development. In the hot, dusty, off-grid environment of Mali, that meant developing solutions like the Desert PC.
While we only built a few for radio stations, another group, Inveneo, took the appropriate computing idea to the next level. They developed an entire product line of information and communication tools for rural and remote communities in the developing world.
But tools themselves are not enough. Technology is only truly sustainable when they are affordable and can be serviced and supported locally and the lack of qualified in-country ICT professionals is a great hindrance to technology diffusion. At Geekcorps we tried to solve this human capacity by linking international technology volunteers with local professionals for one-on-one training.
Again, Inveneo responded to the challenge with a scaled solution. Their Certified In-Country ICT Partner Program (or ICIP for short) is supporting a new generation of technology practitioners by training them on both the technical solutions and the business processes needed to deploy rural and remote computing infrastructure.
Today, I've accepted my own Inveneo challenge. I am the new Senior Director of the ICIP Program, with the goal to expand the program's impact by more than doubling the number of partners and adding as many as six more countries by the end of 2008. From there, we hope to grow this budding community of practice's capacity over the next two years by recruiting and supporting up to 100 in-country partners to empower social change in more than a thousand underserved communities across the developing world.
So if you know of ICT practitioners with significant experience wireless networking, open source software development, IT networking, or VoIP, who have already established a technology business, please send them my way.