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ICT Success Stories

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Cultural, infrastructural, regulatory, linguistic and economic barriers continue to impede widespread digital inclusion, but entrepreneurs in many countries are embracing e-commerce. In addition to breaking down spatial and temporal barriers, ICTs can help level the playing field for new and various actors, in particular from the developing world. While not a panacea for sustainable development, e-commerce gives marginalized peoples greater visibility so they can operate on the global market, aiding human, social and economic development. E-commerce is especially empowering for women, who often represent the least connected segment of society. Through these initiatives, the global economy is helping thousands of people come in from the periphery, not only in terms of physical geography, but also in terms of social and economic integration. 


ICT stories from the field

 Agri business the e-way


Success Strategy: In India, farmers can now use the net to leverage transmission capabilities and access market data through an ICT initiative. Whether it be sugarcane farmers in Tamil Nadu where the Murugappa Group has been using the internet extensively to help farmers sell their sugarcane for an attractive price without involving any middlemen, or coffee planters in Coorg or the soy farmers in Madhya Pradesh, this new model of business has caught the world’s attention. The sugarcane farmers go across to the telecentre set up by the Murugappa Group to sell their sugarcane that gets used by their sugar mills. In this process, the farmers get a fair price, besides gaining access to various content services provided by the Company at their site. Moreover, the farmers can now read the national and state-level news almost instantaneously (in an area where newspapers typically take two days to arrive), weather reports to help farmers plan their sowing and harvesting, banking, micro-credit and micro-finance information, offers from other farming companies for fertilizers, farm gadgets, seeds, herbicides, fungicides, etc.. By leaving the players in ownership of the supply chain, this model brings greater efficiency in a more equitable manner.

Here, the farmer and the team are involved in painting the big picture, stimulating enthusiasm and a feeling of involvement. The philosophy here is that the terrain has so many uncertainties that gaps will exist. So, unlike in the past, where the focus was on well-laid strategic plans, experimentation-based strategies carry more weight.


For more information: see the Datamation website

 Greenstar: People, energy, ecommerce and digital culture




Success strategy: The Greenstar project works with people in traditional cultures to express the voice of the community to the world through original music, artwork, photography and video and other arts. Income from this “digital culture” provides income for an ongoing, community-driven process of literacy, local business, education and training, public health, and environmental programmes. To deliver these services efficiently and quickly, Greenstar has designed a portable community centre.

Using solar power generated by large photovoltaic panels, the centre can drive a water purifier, a small clinic, a vaccine cooler, a classroom, a digital studio and a satellite or wireless link to the internet. The people of each village are aided to develop an e-commerce website, employing local musicians, teachers and art professionals to record the voice of the community. Greenstar packages the materials for various markets, both direct to the consumer, and through licensing to businesses. This formula provides new jobs and skills, strengthens local culture and language, and affirms people’s independence. Villagers own the Greenstar Village Center themselves, and become shareholders in Greenstar digital products available direct to the internet consumer from the Greenstar World Gallery include music, paintings and drawings, photographs, video, poetry and stories, as well as new art forms such as animated panoramas. These products are also licensed by businesses, as “digital premiums”  to communicate with customers and motivate their participation in a wide range of "green" programmes, including alternative energy, textiles and clothing, and interactive entertainment.


Partners: Murugappa Group - India


Source: the Greenstar website

 Republic of Korea: Number one online stocktraders


Success strategy: With over 70 million credit cards, there is more plastic than there are people in Korea. And with 57 per cent of Koreans online and the 60 per cent of Korean businesses with an internet connection, Korea is well on its way to becoming an electronic commerce paradise. Though official statistics on e‑commerce have only been compiled for a short time, they suggest that Korea’s e‑commerce market is growing rapidly. Estimated at USD 9 billion in 2001, it represented 2.1 per cent of the economy and is predicted to grow dramatically to almost USD 200 billion by 2004, making up almost 18 per cent of the economy. With almost 70 per cent of stock market trading done over the internet, Korea is the number one online stocktrader in the world. The country also had 11.3 million online banking users in December 2001, ranking it number one in the world on a per capita basis.


For more detailed information: see the ITU case study on Korea


 Reaching the global market


Photo #010570Success strategy: In developing countries like Cambodia, India and Ethiopia, entrepreneurs are utilizing the internet to market their handi-crafts and become players in the global economy.  However, in many such countries, where banks are often unable, or unwilling to grant credit, people at the lower end of the income spectrum do not have easy access to credit.  Through the internet, these groups have been able to establish lines of credit with banking institutions abroad and domestic micro-financing sources, thus affording them the opportunity to market their goods on the global market. 


Source: ITU’s Cambodia case study 


For more information: see Examples in India and internet diffusion in Ethiopia


 Overcoming literacy obstacles


Success strategy: In an effort to make ICTs more accessible to illiterate rural citizens, Telkom Indonesia has launched a project that combines the conventional telephone with functionalities of ICTs.  Telkom has created a communication device that takes users to relevant information through icons, rather than by a voice connection through dialing a number.  For instance, rather than dialing 555-3322 the user would instead select an icon of a cow to get oral information on agriculture (other icons are linked to information on weather, pricing, etc.).  This project enables people in rural areas who often cannot read to access the global information network. 


Source: the ITU website

 e-Commerce in Cape Verde


Success strategy: Despite the fact that e-commerce is almost non-existent in Cape Verde (largely due to high cost of equipment and access to the internet), a number of initiatives are aimed at helping the country reap the benefits of digital commerce.  One such initiative is a pilot project in Santa Catarina on the island of San Tiago, which seeks to help women display and sell their handicrafts over the Web.  The project is expected to be implemented by the end of 2002.  Tourism, expatriate services (e.g. repatriation of funds) and offshore software development are other e-commerce-related areas that the Government and the private sector are currently investigating. 


Source: Cape Verde case study 


 Recycling for business: Environmentally friendly e-commerce shantytown style

Success strategy: In an effort to protect the environment while creating jobs for the residents of a deprived shantytown, the Wikyo Akala Project uses discarded rubber tires to make sandals, thus providing new job opportunities for the more than 500,000 inhabitants of Korogocho, a shantytown outside Nairobi, Kenya.  The non-profit project melds together many important elements of sustainability, including education, human resource development and environmental protection.  The key component to the Wikyo Akala Project is its Web portal, which has proved to be widely popular throughout African and abroad.  As a sustainable and community-based project that engages the youth of Korogocho in productive income generating activities while fostering the recycling of environmental waste, is helping to reform and modernize the social and economic structures of this marginalized community. 


Source: case study

 EthioLink’s e-commerce play


Success strategy: While e-commerce has yet to take off in Ethiopia, one company—EthioLink—has had some success in helping domestic companies and people establish a Web presence.  One of the most popular sites hosted by EthioLink is EthioGift, which was designed as a reverse e-commerce service to allow Ethiopians abroad purchase items from their homeland.  EthioGift users can order such items as cakes or whisky and even goats!






Source: the ITU website

 Software parks in Thailand and Vietnam


Success strategy of Thailand: With over 500 software companies and more than 20,000 IT workers, Thailand’s software industry has great potential on the global market.  In an effort to cultivate and keep software companies and employees in the country, the National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre (NECTEC) established a Software Park in 1997.  The Park has thus far attracted over 40 software companies, of which at least 14 are multinational.  As an incentive, the Government provides companies residing in the Park with a LAN with at least 8 Mbps at reduced prices, subsidized rents and an eight-year waver on corporate taxes.  The objective is to stimulate foreign and domestic partnerships in the ever-evolving software industry.  Beyond connection and incentives, NECTEC also assists the Park’s residents with a variety of business services and international collaboration opportunities. 


Source: the ITU website 

Success strategy of Vietnam: The Vietnam Government has made software development one of four key areas of its IT Master Plan.  In an effort to help move the country towards becoming a knowledge society, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment launched a campaign to attract domestic and foreign software firms to the newly developed software parks.  In contrast to the initiative in Thailand, the Vietnam Government opted to have software development sites in multiple locations rather than a single “park.” While many are planned, the Saigon Software Park (SSP) is currently the only one in existence.

SSP opened in July 2000, and has thus far attracted more than 30 companies with a total of over 600 employees—in part attracted by the tax breaks, lower rent and other incentives offered.  SSP is equipped with a two Mbps internet access line, which directly connects to the international gateway.  The Government subsidizes 50 per cent of the connection fee for SSP.  The project has become so popular that SSP has reached full capacity, and is currently looking for another building for expansion.  In an effort to aid the creation of additional software parks, the Government intends to create a domestic software market worth USD50 million, with more than 50,000 IT professionals by 2005.


Source: the ITU website

 Virtual shopping


Success strategy: In an effort to bring e-commerce to indigenous peoples and expatriates, the Virtual Bolivia Mall was created in 1998.  The site is designed to serve as the main link between Bolivians abroad and their cultural heritage at home.  The mall, which is similar to other online shopping portals, allows visitors to shop for a variety of products, including music, handicrafts and food.  While Bolivia’s electronic credit card payment system has not yet been fully developed, the site allows users to pay for products by credit card.  BoliviaMall uses DHL international reach to deliver products to end users around the world. 


Source: the ITU website

 E-commerce for small- scale public procurement - Bulgaria

Success Strategy: The overall goal of the project is to create transparent, equal and accessible environment for public procurement procedures and to reduce financial, organizational and time resources, spent by the companies in public procurement procedures. The companies receive information for small-scale procurement procedures, send their offers and participate in the whole tendering process via internet. The only technical requirement is to use digital signature for registration in the system and submission of offers and related documents.

The Bulgarian Ministry of Finance have implemented this feature together with a whole package of useful resources such as a number of national budget & national debt issues, tax information, various statistics and highlights on Bulgarian and European Union legislative basis. The merit of the website is the good structure of the information and it certified origin as well as several user-friendly features as search & interactive tools.

The overall concept of the website and the services provided has proven his efficiency and usefulness for citizens making use of internet. Main benefits of the online activities are their interactivity and the absence of censorship. The value added in terms of empowerment is also notable - transparency and democratic expression are highly stimulated and political issues in particular are discussed freely in public. Contributions and solutions have been suggested and given for consideration directly to the Public Authorities without institutional intermediate.

Target group: Bulgarian citizens

Partners: Bulgarian Ministry of Finance

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database and the website of the activity

  Providing Information Technology Employment Training to People with Disabilities 

Success Strategy: According to current estimates, roughly 18 percent of those living in Central America have some form of disability, as compared to an average of 10 percent in developed nations. The main causes are war, land mines, natural disasters, and poverty, which contributes to increased malnutrition and the emergence of easily preventable, disabling diseases. 

 “I am blind since I was born and I thank you because this is the first time I am able to send an email by myself working with the computer,” wrote Jose Reyes, age 22, in a message to staff at the Trust for the Americas, a Washington, DC-based, non-profit organization affiliated with the Organization of American States (OAS). Jose is one of more than 200 individuals with disabilities who received training in information technology as part of an IT employment-training project launched.

Such training is now opening up windows of opportunity for people with disabilities in four Central American countries—Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua. With the goal of sustaining long-term supports for the disabled in the region, the project set out to enhance the employment prospects of individuals with disabilities, while strengthening the capacity of local NGOs to provide the disabled with ongoing IT-related job training. A website was in Spanish was develop a website linking disability organizations throughout the region.

The training provided exceeded The Trust’s initial expectations. In all, more 130 individuals within 44 NGOs received instruction in how to train those with disabilities for employment. In addition, 200 individuals with disabilities, 170 of them women, received direct IT employment training. Equipping disabled women in particular with workplace skills was an important goal of the project given their largely overlooked needs.

With a knowledge infrastructure now in place, the project’s impact is being sustained as those NGOs that received training pass on their knowledge within local NGO networks. Also fundamental to sustaining the project’s impact is a new website—the Virtual Disabilities Resource. A specialized ICT Centre and additional web resources have being developed in Spanish to provide those with disabilities and their advocates with vital information on current laws and best practices, while creating a vehicle through which experts worldwide may share ideas.

Partners: Trust for the Americas (affiliated with the Organization of American States (OAS)), World Bank, eBay Foundation, Premier Programming, Fuhril - Honduras, Ruscitti

Source: The World Bank website

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