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ICT Success Stories

Main WSIS site |  UN Millennium Development Goals | Visions of the Information Society |

 

 

E-ENTREPRENEURSHIP


The spread of ICTs throughout the world has opened up many new economic opportunities for marginalized groups, in particular in developing countries. Access to ICTs and the information resources available through the internet promise not only social and economic development opportunities to citizens, but help cultivate the entrepreneurial spirit and skills of disadvantaged peoples over the world. As evidenced by the stories below and by many other initiatives in developing and transitional economies, marginalized groups do not lack creativity, but rather the knowledge and experience to harness ICTs to improve their professional development and welfare. 

ICT stories from the field


 Digital Divide Data - Oceania, Cambodia, Laos

Success Strategy: Digital Divide Data (DDD) is a project that involves disadvantaged youth in Cambodia in an integrated educational, vocational training and work program. The idea behind the project is to connect young people, who are struggling to survive in one of the world's least developed nations, with the global economy. DDD does this by creating non-profit data-entry outsourcing centres that only hire individuals under 25 who are orphans, physically disabled or trafficked women.

DDD's operations are completely ICT based. Input is received in the form of digital images. DDD employees convert these to ASCii files, create databases, add HTML and then email the output to clients around the world. The centre has 50 computers and each employee spends most of his time working with ICT. DDD has also put in place a management information system that tracks work through its digitisation pipeline, maintains finances and monitors productivity, punctuality and quality.

The benefits of the project are enormous. In developing countries like Cambodia, most young people cannot complete secondary school education. Students drop out of school because they cannot afford the fees and have to support their families. DDD's employees not only benefit from having a job and wages far above local standards, but they also receive scholarships for education, health benefits, vocational counselling and work in a safe environment. This gives them the confidence and self-esteem that come from self-reliance.

DDD's social mission is to break the cycle of poverty by providing training and job opportunities. For Soy Sokorn for example, further education was an impossibility. He supports his immediate family of five, and helps support an extended family of 12. He now studies computers and English while working part-time at DDD. Keo Sambath who lost a leg in a landmine explosion, is improving his IT skills at DDD, and is enrolled in a degree programme. Muny is a young woman disabled by polio. Her stint with DDD resulted in a rapid improvement of her computer skills, English and self-confidence. She now works as a translator for the Australian Embassy, netting a high income for one so young, and has become a role model for others with polio who are struggling to overcome the stigma society has placed on them.

Its business became a financially self-sustainable enterprise within 9 months, and has to date, earned more than USD140,000 in revenue. Clients include Bain Capital, the Harvard Crimson student newspaper, Mobitel, the local cellular phone provider, Tufts University Library and the University of Chicago.

Target group: Disabled and disadvantaged youth

Partners: DDD's partners include a wide variety of institutions, NGOs and businesses. Wat Than School - Cambodia, Future Light Orphanage, New Life Foundation, SME Cambodia, the Ministry of Commerce of Cambodia, Cambodia Women Coordination Council, and Cambodia Volunteers Coordination Council; CyberData - Delhi, Mekong Project Development Facility, the Asia Foundation, USAID, World Bank, Rotary Club of Denver, Soros Foundation and Kearny Alliance.

Awards: The project was:

  •  honoured by the Ministry of Social Affairs, Labour, Vocational Training and Youth Rehabilitation of Cambodia for working with disabled people finalist in World Bank awards 2003 ;

  • Overall Winner of the GKP Youth Award 2003: Employment and Entrepreneurship.

Source: The Global Knowledge Partnership website and the website of the activity


 New Bu$-ine$$ - Zimbabwe

Success Strategy: Information and communication technologies are evolving rapidly, and with them the way the world of commerce operates. Businesses that do not use these technologies may be excluded from access to the most up-to-date information about prices, supplies and markets and so be at a disadvantage compared with their competitors. In the many areas of the world which do not yet have universal telephone connections, the exclusion from access to ICTs among rural populations extends to an extreme scarcity of functioning telephones.

Computers, telephones and fax machine, along with a library and typing service, have been installed on an old refurbished bus in Highfield and Gazaland in Harare, Zimbabwe, enabling many small businesses to increase production and profit margins. The Infobus opened to clients in September 2000 offering a wide range of services for the business as well as training opportunities for everybody willing to become computer litterate.

The project objectives are primarily to prevent further marginalisation of small-scale producers, and to allow small businesses access to markets and other business information. Small electronic library containing technical briefs and books on running a small business as well as several databases, including a directory of micro-finance institutions have been made available for the audience. But most of the “clients” have improved efficiency just through the use of phone calls and fax messages to save the time and expense of travel to speak to customers and suppliers, while others have used the internet to find new markets and sources of raw materials.

In the first year most people came to the Infobus to use the telephone, photocopying and typing services, and only 9 per cent used the other facilities such as the internet. This can partly be explained in terms of information needs, which are largely local rather than global. However, new ICTs were also perceived as expensive, whereas the actual charges for their use were favourably received. In addition, people are often wary of the unknown and may need encouragement to invest valuable time in exploring new technologies.

Target group: SMEs in rural areas

Partners: Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG)and ITDG Southern Africa (Harare)

Source: UNDP - The Equator Initiative


 ICTs in Microfinance- Bolivia

Success Strategy: In 1985, the Government of Bolivia started the process of economic liberalization, reducing the degree of government intervention and participation in the economy. Two years later, the government closed the four state-owned banks that were the principal credit providers in the country.  This resulted in the proliferation of private, non-profit institutions that offered credit to small-scale farmers and entrepreneurs unable to access the formal financial system, PRODEM (Fundación para la Promoción y el Desarrollo de la Microempresa),  being one of them.  

Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) play an important role in the economic development of poor communities. Access to credit has usually been the province of the well-to do, with little thought being given to the poor who really need it. The majority of these microfinance organizations are donor funded and usually include (NGOs), credit unions, non-bank financial intermediaries. The sustainability of these organizations is a challenge.  To combat this problem, some MFIs are using new information and communication technologies (ICTs) to improve their operations in three main areas: expanding their customer base and extending their reach into underserved areas, establishing secure identities for customers, and lowering transaction costs.

One of the biggest challenges for providing microfinance has essentially been the high cost of reaching the customers, due to the large costs of building and maintaining physical bank branches, and the high transaction costs and low profit margin on small loans. But these days many initiatives are currently using new information and communication technologies (ICTs), such as smart cards, handhelds, and modified ATMs, to bypass the traditional methods of providing bank services. In doing so, they are lowering their overhead costs and expanding their reach, helping to extend the availability of microfinance.

PRODEM's Multilingual Smart 
					Card ATMIn Bolivia, Prodem FFP, an NGO established in 1986, is providing ATM-enabled banking services to Bolivians who do not have access to traditional banks, by designing its own ATM tailored to meet the needs of its rural customers.

The company provides its customers with a smart card, so that the ATMs are able to verify the customer's identity and complete transactions without being electronically connected to the central office.

Using a combination of smart card technology with biometrics, fingerprint ID verification of all its customers is made possible at all of its branches and ATMs. This removes the need for PIN numbers which would prove a challenge for illiterate customers.

To make procedures friendlier for the illiterate customer, the ATMs are audio enabled. Voice activated commands and instructions are available in their local language, currently Spanish, Quechua, or Aymara.  The touch screen with pictures allows customers to deposit and withdraw funds without filling out a deposit slip or withdrawal form. Additionally, the ATMs facilitate money transfers, and provide access to government programs that provide work for low-skill workers and make payments to senior citizens.

ICTs will continue to impact microfinance operations worldwide. As prices of relevant technology like ATMs, biometrics, voice recognition, smart-cards, and PDAs continue to fall, more MFIs will be able to take advantage of the benefits they offer.  ICTs are helping MFIs to finally meet the unmet demand for microcredit throughout the developing world.

For more information: see http://www.digitaldividend.org

Background materials: see http://www.mip.org/pdfs/mbp/regulation_and_supervision-bolivian-case-study.pdf


 Wiring Bangladesh for the Digital Age

Success Strategy: Together with domestic stakeholders, USAID/Bangladesh has helped create the Job Opportunities and Business Support (JOBS) programme, which is designed to help promote IT in the country’s business sector. Having completed a comprehensive assessment of the country’s e-readiness, JOBS worked with the University of Maryland (USA) to create a central online repository of information about IT issues and the Government’s progress in reforming its regulatory and legal institutions to facilitate the emergence of e‑commerce marketplace and knowledge-based society in Bangladesh.  With a focus on the small business market, JOBS also launched an IT training seminar for about 20 businesses in the handloom, handicraft and footwear sectors. 

For more information: see the website of the activity

Background materials: see http://www.usaid.gov/bd/about_us.html


 STEP (Selective Tenders & Projects) - Switzerland

Success Strategy: STEP is a service specially addressing the need of SMEs and is implemented in the frame of OSEC Business Network, which is focused on establishing business relations among Swiss company looking for business opportunities abroad and foreign companies looking for partnerships in Switzerland. The extensive network is open to everybody willing to take advantage of experience and knowledge shared.

STEP is a database application, which collects, categorises and disseminates tenders and private sales leads from all over the world. The Subscriber can define a search profile (products, services, regions, type of document etc.). Consequently an E-Mail Alert informs the subscriber about the daily publications, news and calls for tender matching to his search profile.

The importance of this feature is growing in the context of globalisation of commercial exchanges and service provision. The information given on calls for public tender in Switzerland, the European Union and all over the world is a valuable tool providing quality information on time helping thus to save time and offering the possibility to get in touch with all the business community in a particular sector continuously and efficiently. On the international level, the calls for tender represent not les than 2 500 billions of CHF. The share of the European Union is about 1 100 billions of CHF per year and the Swiss’ is at an average level of 36 billions. Knowing the Switzerland has recently adopted a bilateral agreement on Public Markets with the EU, one could anticipate a considerable annual growth of the possibilities open to Swiss and Liechtenstein companies thanks to the liberalisation and the open access given to cities and districts on a mutual basis.

Target group: SMEs in Switzerland and Liechtenstein

Partners: Switzerland - Osec Business Network Switzerland

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database and the website of the entity

Background materials: see http://www.osec.ch/rootcollection;internal&action=buildframes.action


 Fencepost - New Zealand

Success Strategy: Fonterra’s supplier website, Fencepost.com is a unique community & business channel used by Fonterra dairy farmers throughout New Zealand to monitor their business performance and stay in touch with the company and each other. Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd is a leading multinational dairy company investing in organic dairy industries and products, owned by 12,000 New Zealand dairy farmers. This is the world's largest exporter of dairy products, exporting 95 percent of their production.

Fencepost.com is an Internet e-cooperative & e-agricultural portal, focused on farmers' needs. Fencepost.com provides its users with specific industry and personal output information, market and commodity updates, free weather updates, industry-related news, expert advice, discussion groups, sporting news and email as well as special deals on farm goods. Fencepost.com provides expert knowledge base articles, up to the minute awareness of environmental issues and solutions, sharing of information amongst suppliers through online discussion groups, and up to the minute communications with Fonterra.

The first channel developed as part of the portal has been for the dairy industry. Over time it will be joined by others, such as wool, meat and horticulture.

In the past year Fencepost.com has been refined to enhance the communication channel with Fonterra suppliers around the country to create a nationwide rural community of the future - online. Fencepost.com is also an important business tool providing Fonterra suppliers with up to the minute milk production and quality information giving farmers fast access to information that allows them to make decisions to better manage their farms.

One example of the portal functionality is how farmers can view the volume of milk a tanker has just picked up from their farm vat - within minutes of the tanker leaving the farm! Milk quality and component results are available the minute tests are finalised. This daily monitoring of production gives valuable insight into the effects and timing of on-farm inputs designed to enhance production or maintain milk quality throughout the season.

The ability for farmers to select their first and last collection of milk online has also been added, reducing administrative costs for the company and providing more accurate information for farmers and for scheduling of Fonterra's 450-strong tanker fleet, that is responsible for collecting over 14 billion litres of milk per annum.

Fencepost.com has an ongoing aim to leverage the power of the internet to ensure best farming practises and productivity tools can be shared across the supplier base to ensure Fonterra suppliers remain as world leaders in milk production and milk quality.

Online voting in elections, calculations affecting capital expenditure for farmers in maintaining their co-operative memberships, forecasting of annual supply trends and payout predictors, livestock trading and classifieds advertising are other services provided by Fencepost.com while its Rural jobs database is hugely successful both within New Zealand and internationally.

Today more than 70% of Fonterra’s 11,500 farms are registered to utilise the site - these farms account for more than 80% of the company’s national milk production. A wide range of communication tools, productivity tools and interfaces with company systems are used on a daily basis by farmers spread throughout rural New Zealand.

Although in its early days, Fencepost.com has succeed in establishing a truly national community and a truly national business tool. Supporting and optimizing business practices for the farming and rural sector right across New Zealand, the platform is favouring the creation of new business models, based on a set of interactive tools, is developing the ability to spread best practice among farmers nationwide.

Partners: Fonterra, Kiwi Co-operative Dairies Ltd; Jade Systems

Awards: Winner of the national contest Best Digital Content and Applications - New Zealand 2005, Category e-Business Nominee for the WSIS-Award 2005, Category e-Business

Source: WSIS-Award - New Zealand and Jade Systems website 

For more information: the Fencepost website 

Note: Screen shots have been used as viewers are unable to access this site for detailed viewing due to security and privacy issues.


 El Correo del Agricultor (The farmer's mail) - Bolivia

Success Strategy: In Santa Cruz, Bolivia, a simple means of using the radio, with information sourced from the internet and communicated through e-mail, has helped improve the lives of 14,500 families.

As the farmers rarely ventured from their villages, they depended on middlemen and brokers who collected the products directly from the farms. The brokers would take the vegetables to the markets in Santa Cruz without paying the producers. After selling the products in the market, they would return to the farms and pay the farmers whatever they wanted as they were not aware of the market prices of their produce. Many times farmers were not even able to cover the cost of production.

All that has changed since the creation of a radio programme called El Correo del Agricultor. Itsprogrammes has helped change things around for farmers in the region by offering them information, such as the price list for the main agricultural products for that day.

 

The radio programme also contains two other important sections: a discussion about the environment and sustainable development, and a segment on Health, Nature and Life that deals with natural medicine and local practices. These segments incorporate information found on the internet, which is made relevant to local issues.

The program has been broadcast on local radios every Monday to Friday since January 2001. As a result of the programme, the terms of negotiation between the middlemen and the producers have improved considerably. This in turn has improved the income of thousands of families by at least 10 per cent. The number of farmers who take their produce to the market themselves has also increased.

The quality of the radio program has also led to the improvement in the quality of other local radio programs. One of the radio stations actually went as far as copying all the digital editing equipment of the project, including the furniture! Today, the farmers have access to all sorts of more pertinent and relevant information, through the radio, which was formerly dominated by foreign content. They feel more wired and connected and are able to discuss issues that are important to them.

Target group: Bolivian farmers

Partners: of Instituto de Capacitación del Oriente (ICO), Central de Asociaciones de Pequeños Productores de Vallegrande (CAPA)

Awards: GKP Tony Zeitoun Award 2003 - Winner

Source: The Global Knowledge Partnership and the website of the activity


 VillagePhone - Bangladesh and Uganda

Bangladesh

Success Strategy: One success story, the Grameen Village Phone program in Bangladesh has become quite famous. GrameenPhone is a commercial operation providing cellular services in both urban and rural areas of Bangladesh, with approximately 40,000 customers. A pilot programme is enabling women members of the Grameen Bank's revolving credit system to retail cellular phone services in rural areas. This pilot project currently involves 950 Village Phones providing telephone access to more than 65,000 people. Village women access micro-credit to acquire digital GSM cellular phones and subsequently re-sell phone calls and phone services within their villages. Grameen Telecom staff have announced that when its programme is complete, 40,000 Village Phone operators will be employed for a combined net income of $24 million USD per annum.

 What’s more, the service to the community is invaluable. Business owners in Bangladesh use the village phone to receive market information to better negotiate prices for the goods they produce. Entrepreneurs use the technology to identify new business opportunities. Others use it to stay in touch with family members and friends who have left the village. All save the expense of travelling great distances to contact others outside of their immediate community.

The Village Phone programme yields significant positive social and economic impacts, including relatively large consumer surplus and immeasurable quality of life benefits. The consumer surplus for a single phone call from a village to Dhaka, a call that replaces a physical trip to the city, ranges from 2.64% to 9.8% of mean monthly household income. The cost of a trip to the city ranges from 2 to 8 times the cost of a single phone call, meaning real savings for poor rural people of between 132 to 490 Taka ($2.70 to $10 USD) for individual calls.

Many people, mainly men, from the rural areas of Bangladesh seek employment outside the country and send some of their earnings to the family at home. In one of the villages studied, some 75% of the households have at least one person working abroad so the total amount of money being sent to the village is quite large. Mainly, these funds are sent in the form of foreign currency which has to be changed into Bangladeshi Takas (Tk). These transactions are often made through currency dealers who visit the villages. Unfortunately, some of the dealers are unscrupulous and offer poor exchange rates to the villagers. However, the VPP system is being used increasingly to find out the real rate of exchange by telephoning the city. When the dealers visit, the villagers are fully informed so the trader cannot exploit them and they can negotiate a better return on their foreign currency.

Rural telephone service in Bangladesh is very profitable and, due to the existing regulatory environment, telecom operators are unable to meet the demand for services. The VPP owners themselves - Telephone Ladies - add significantly to the household income by selling telephone services to the villagers. The typical Village Phone Operator earns an income three times the national average. (an average of $100/month versus $30/month). The income that Village Phone operators derive from the Village Phone is about 24% of the household income on average - and in some cases it was as high as 40% of the household income - and Village Phone operators become socially and economically empowered. The ladies use the extra income mainly to provide benefits to the family, such as education, clothing and health.

The Village Phone programme appears to be the best available technical solution for rural universal access under current regulatory and commercial circumstances. The Village Phone programme is a technical and organizational solution to rural telecommunication access partly necessitated by a regulatory environment that is not conducive to advancing rural telecommunication infrastructure.

Partners: Grameen Bank, Grameen Phone, and Grameen Telecom

Source: Grameen Telecom's Village Phone Programme: A Multi-Media Case Study and the Equator Initiative website

For more information: see the website of the activity


Uganda

Success Strategy: The success of the Grameen Model for rural development and poverty reduction inspired partners to replicate it in other developing countries. When Village Phones were brought to Uganda, changes were made to the Bangladeshi model to elaborate it to suit for Uganda. The MTN village Phone was formally launched in November 2003.

The concept of the Village Phone of extending telecommunications access to rural villages in partnership with local microfinance institutions is based on the creation of opportunities for rural community members to become 'village phone operators'; operating a payphone. A big advantage is that these Village Phone businesses can be established in areas where electricity is unavailable and in areas where the MTN network can only be accessed with a booster antenna.

MTN VillagePhone service is available in most districts of Uganda. MTN VillagePhone provides special airtime rates to the Village Phone Operators to enable them to provide affordable telecommunications services to people in their village. Upcountry, people are now able to make a call without traveling many kilometers to the nearest town. They can simply go to their community Village Phone Operator who serves and supports the community by making affordable communications services available.

Partners: Grameen Foundation USA, MTN Uganda, Finca Uganda, SOMED, Uganda Women's Fincancial Trust, Uganda Microfinance Union

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database and the website of the activity


 Reaching the global market with PEOPLink

Success Strategy: PEOPLink, a non-profit organization, employs a grassroots strategy to help artisans in over 22 less developed countries use the internet to reach world markets.  Working at a grassroots level, PEOPLink has opened doors for many aspiring artists the world over by providing them with digital imaging and internet technologies.  To demonstrate the effectiveness of the PEOPLink’s e-commerce strategy, there are a couple of ongoing programmes in Nepal and India that illustrate how the organization brings producers and potential buyers together via the internet.  These two projects highlight how PEOPLink establishes links at the community level to help them express the unique features of their culture, while helping the small businesses gain access to the global economy.  

For more information: see www.peoplink.org and www.mahaguthi.org or www.peoplink.org/tara 

Background materials: see the PEOPLink case study


  Development of a Microfinance IT Banking Systems - Asia

Success Strategy: The "GTZ-FAO MicroBanking System" is software built for financial institutions providing micro credit and other financial services for low-income households and small-scale entrepreneurs. The project is to foster small financial institutions, including credit cooperatives, savings banks and microfinance institutions especially in rural areas. The software is specially adapted to developing countries particular financial environment and the needs of local business entrepreneurs.

The system is designed to consolidate and merge branch level databases at the head office of an institution. The system imports branch databases regularly (e.g. monthly or weekly) and then generates consolidated reports as well as branch-wise reports. It also includes a number of charts. This allows easy monitoring, comparison and analysis of branch operations. Financial reports include consolidated as well as branch wise trial balances, balance sheets and income statements. The MIS system has its own built-in reporting tool with which trained users can design and generate their own reports.

A steering committee of GTZ and the UN specialized agency FAO has been set up to support further development and quality management. Various specialized consulting firms in several countries implement the system worldwide. A global technical centre is the "MBWin Center of Excellence" (CoE), located at the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok, Thailand. Two "MBWin Competence Centers" (MBCC) are located in Nepal and the Philippines. These MBCCs are primary responsible for MBWin installations, training, and for support to end-users. New competence centres are currently being established in Indonesia and in Honduras.

The software is one of the few affordable systems, which can be easily adapted to different cultural backgrounds, languages and banking regulations. License fees for the MIS system depend on the number of branches that you wish to merge into the system.

The first MBWin system was piloted in Nepal in the Energetic Women Cooperative (EWC) in late 2000. Currently it runs in banks in more than 15 countries, namely Bangladesh, Cambodia, West Timor, Indonesia, Honduras, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Nepal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Uganda, Yemen.

Target group: Small business in rural areas of developing countries

Partners: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database and the website of the activity

For more information: MicroBanker International Foundation website


Global Giving: Give Online. Change the World.

Success Strategy: GlobalGiving connects individual and institutional donors directly to social and economic development projects, as well as environmental causes, around the world. 

The GlobalGiving platform was designed as a highly efficient marketplace on the Internet. The platform enables more funding to reach projects throughout the globe, and, at the same time, provides a more transparent, engaging way for donors to give. Potential donors can browse and select from a wide offering of projects, organized by geography or by themes such as health care, the environment, and education. Once a donor chooses a project, he/she can contribute any amount, using a credit/debit card, check, PayPal, or stock transfer. Gift registries can be set up for special events, and donors can "give" any project as a gift.

These contributions directly support the entrepreneurial work of project leaders throughout the world, who are bringing innovative, empowering solutions to challenging social problems at the local community level. Because donors are enabled to give directly to projects, they know exactly where their money is going. Donors can see progress updates on most projects as funding is received and goals are met.

Donations made through GlobalGiving are higher impact because:

  • Money is going directly to a well-defined project versus supporting general operating expenses

  • Projects on globalgiving.com have exposure to thousands of donors, enabling us to aggregate multiple sources of funding for each project

  • Many projects on globalgiving.com are located in the developing world where a little money goes a long way
     

For more information: please visit the website of the platform.


 Rickshaws Connect India's Poor

Success Strategy: But still only around 23 million people have access to mobiles out of a population of 1.1 billion. A regional mobile phone company in India is taking a novel approach to drive up business and help the poor at the same time. Shyam Telecom operating in the state of Rajasthan has equipped a fleet of rickshaws with one or a couple of mobile phones. Drivers pedal these mobile payphones throughout the state capital, Jaipur, and the surrounding countryside providing exclusive opportunity for disadvantaged rural community members to make a call or send sms. The hand-pedalled rickshaws are equipped with a battery, a billing machine and a printer.

 The rickshaw drivers, numbering around 200, are largely drawn from those at the margins of society - the disabled and women. The telecom company charges nothing for the initial set-up costs despite the 75,000 rupee ($1,641) price of the tricycle and equipment. The drivers take a 20% on every call, earning between 6,000 (US$131) to 9,000 ($197) rupees per month. Through these mobile payphones, some drivers are now able to be entirely self-reliant and even support a family of five people, says the company.

 "The operator gets traffic on its network, the driver gets a commission and the consumers get access to affordable calling", she told BBC News Online, saying many companies could learn from Shyam's focus on customer service.

But Shyam is not limiting its novel interpretation of mobility just to voice services nor to tricycles. The company's latest innovation is a camel equipped with a wirelessly connected computer, for use in the desert, though just two animals are currently in commission at present.

And after discussion with the drivers, Shyam is also planning to add internet-ready laptops to the rickshaws.

Target group: Rural communities, disabled, women

Partners: Shyam Telecom

Source: BBC News website


 Fisheries Trials e-Forms - New Zealand

Success Strategy: The New Zealand Fisheries Ministry plans to provide portable computers to some of its observers so they can directly input catch information while aboard ships at sea.

Observers currently record data from catches – such as the species, quantities of fish caught and information on processing – on more than 50 forms which are made from waterproof paper. The data must then be re-entered into the ministry's databases when the observer returns to port. The ministry estimates it can save at least $150,000 each year by moving to entirely to electronic forms at sea cutting this double-entry and eliminate delays caused when several ships return in the same week.

Mobile computers would also boost the accuracy of reports by automatically making calculations and checking electronic forms are properly filled in. pilot trials will be led during 2005.

Mr France says the ministry wants a system that can transmit data back from the ship, probably once a day, but the cost of this might be too high. GPS capability is also preferred, if the costs can be kept down. If the pilots reveal further potential of the digital fisheries systems, the Ministry would be ready to replace nearly all its forms with electronic versions on handheld PCs.

Partners: New Zealand Fisheries Ministry

Source: Stuff website, May 2005 


 Rural Economic Advancement Project (REAP) - South Caucasus

Success Strategy: REAP has worked on developing and promoting appropriate processing technologies, that will enhance marketing opportunities for horticultural and poultry produce, thus resulting in higher income for participating households. Also, the project aims to improve access to technology and market information.

The project is regional in scope with activities in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. The overall goal is to improve the household livelihood security of smallholder farmers by improving agricultural production; income generation and marketing; and developing business linkages between farmer organizations, the private sector, and local institutions in order to promote sustainable privatized agricultural production. The project targeted approximately 1,500 vulnerable households in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia.

In Armenia, the project targeted 480 farmers in the villages of Azatan, Akhuryan, Beniamen, Karnut and Hatsik. The project had a specific gender objective and anticipated that at least 60% of the beneficiaries would be women. The project approach was to train and support community based facilitators (CFs) who in turn would mobilize and train other farmers (Participatory Household Representatives – PHRs) in new technologies and business development issues. The CFs would also learn about and support PHRs in gaining improved access to local and distant agricultural support services. It was also proposed to establish involvement of the local government through the development of local coordination committees. In addition to training, CFs and PHRs were to be provided with inputs in support of new technology testing and adoption.

A preliminary evaluation undertaken after 18 months of operation (in 2002) indicated that this type of project, which assists small householders to learn together, work together and market together, could have significant impact in a very small period of time. REAP households experienced a 47% increase in gross income from wheat and potato production from the baseline, compared to a 4% increase for non-beneficiary households. In addition, REAP households increased potato and wheat consumption from their own crops by 27% and 5%, respectively, compared to non-beneficiary households. In addition, REAP households experienced a 34% average increase in gross income from key dairy products (milk, cheese), vs. a 27% decrease in gross income for non-beneficiary households. REAP households also increased consumption of home produced milk by 26% and consumption of raised eggs 26 by 17% compared to a reduction in family consumption of non-beneficiary households of 27% and 30%, respectively. In a country where potatoes and dairy products are staple foodstuffs, and where cash is limited, the ability of households to increase consumption without increasing their cash expenditures is a significant benefit that should not be discounted.

The results captured by evaluation indicated that significant benefits could be obtained with this approach. Accordingly, CARE and CIDA have invested income from other sources to continue to support the farming groups in the project over another harvesting cycle, in order to ensure sustainability of farmers’ gains.

Partners: Canadian International Development Agency - CIDA, CARE International

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database


 Digital Freedom Initiative - United States of America

Success Strategy: Digital Freedom Initiative of the Bush Administration has place volunteers in businesses and community centres to provide small businesses and entrepreneurs with ICT skills and knowledge and knowledge to operate more efficiently while competing in the global economy. These objectives are achieved in partnership with U.S. business entities whose voluntary, innovative and entrepreneurial participation in the DFI provides access to new markets and competitive opportunities for developing products and services in emerging economies. Over 90 U.S. business, non-governmental organizations and academic institutions now comprise the DFI Business Roundtable.

 The objectives of the Initiative clearly stated are the following:

³ Enable Innovation through Volunteer-led Business and Entrepreneur Assistance

The DFI will place volunteers from the private sector and NGOs with small businesses and entrepreneurs to assist in growing their businesses through the application of technology and the transfer of business expertise.

 ³ Drive Pro-Growth Legal and Regulatory Reform

The State Department, Commerce, USAID, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and other public and private sector organizations will assist DFI countries in developing pro-growth regulatory and legal structures to enhance business competitiveness

 ³ Leverage Existing Information and Communications Infrastructure to Promote Economic Growth

The DFI will identify opportunities to leverage existing infrastructure (e.g., in-country cyber cafés and telecentres) to generate information and services (e.g. financial services, commodity price information, etc.) to help entrepreneurs and small businesses better compete in both the regional and global market place.

The DFI was initiated in Senegal in March 2003, followed by Peru, Indonesia and Jordan. More countries are anticipated to join the program in the next four years to increase business activity, develop more efficient markets, create more jobs in the U.S. and DFI beneficiary countries, and help establish a business friendly regulatory framework conducive to U.S. investment and partnerships.

Target group : SMEs, rural communities in developing countries

Partners: U.S. Agency for International Development, US Department of Commerce, US Department of State, Peace Corps, US Small Business Administration, and USA Freedom Corps

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database and the website of the activity  


 Geo-database Cadastre and Land Registry System in Georgia

Success Strategy: The project developed and introduced a nationwide computer-based and fully integrated cadastre and land registry - the first ever in Georgia. This significantly improves the development opportunities of the private sector particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises and agriculture, as verifiable land property rights are a perquisite for access to credit and investment. Moreover, an efficient multi-functional cadastre and land registry is a source of local and central government revenue. The project also helped create a private-sector land surveyor industry with highly qualified jobs and long-term business opportunities.

Target group: Rural population, SMEs, farmers

Partners: KfW Entwicklungsbank, Germany

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database and the website of the entity 


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