Statement by CEO of Inveneo Kristin Peterson
Thank you, Secretary-General Touré. And thank you ITU delegates for making this year’s
ceremony pay special focus to the needs of rural communities.
billion people around the world live in rural areas. More than 2 billion of them
lack reliable access to information and communications technology. And yet,
these are the very people and communities who ICTs could benefit most.
founded Inveneo based on the fundamental belief that access to ICT has the power
to change lives through better education, improved healthcare, access to
economic opportunity and faster relief.
In fact, the World Bank estimates that
every 10% increase in broadband penetration can yield an increase of as much as
1.4% in GDP growth.
But, delivering technology to these communities, as you can
imagine, is challenging! Lack of power and abundance of heat, dust and humidity
are the first challenges. Sometimes even lizards, goats or monkeys get in the
way. Other critical issues are lack of skills to deploy and support ICTs and
business models that may work in dense urban areas don’t scale to rural regions.
At Inveneo we have made it our mission to find the right technologies that can
help organizations in these communities - schools, clinics, relief camps --
successfully use ICTs – to deliver better vital services Along the way, we
quickly realized that technology - even through we are technologists - was not
enough. So we’ve been building an eco-system of certified in-country ICT
entrepreneurs that we partner with around the world. Together, with these
partners, we are implementing projects that range from solar-powered computer
labs going in to hundreds of schools in Uganda and Tanzania, to building a rural
broadband network in rural Haiti.
Also, we have been working with the ITU’s
capacity building inititiaves, by sharing our knowledge through ITU sponsored
trainings Uganda and Kenya.
But what is most important, is what is happening in
these communities. I’d like to share a few stories which come from our recent
work in Haiti:
Immediately after the Haiti earthquake, our team helped build a
broadband network in Port-au-Prince for many of the humanitarian agencies. As
this effort ended, we started to focus on delivering ICTs to rural communities
through improved access to the Internet and training of local entrepreneurs to
deliver a broadband network and sustainable ICTs in 6 regions.
In our first
rural location, Leogane, the epicentre of the earthquake, we identified a strong
demand from schools, healthcare facilities and NGOs. You will see a short video
about our work there in just a moment.
In Léogâne, we started our work with ICT
entrepreneur Jerry Joseph. Prior to the earthquake, Jerry had studied at a
prestigious technology institute in the Dominican Republic. But with…
…technology careers in Haiti were hard to come by.
- more than 80% of the population living below the poverty line,
- an unemployment rate of more than 40%, and
- a per
capita income of less than $400 USD per year,
Like many educated youth,
Jerry was forced to work odd jobs to support himself and his family. And like so
many Haitians, Jerry was left homeless after the earthquake.
practical skills by working with Inveneo to deploy long-distance WiFi to
hospitals and NGOs in and around Léogâne, and graduated from our certified IT
In just 4 months, Jerry has his own business and is working
with a local Haitian ISP, MultiLink, to deliver broadband, computing and support
to many organizations in Leogane. He is earning strong income, can afford to
send his daughter to school, and is very proud to help his own community build
Fabiola, a 12th grader in a Léogâne high school is another person
whose life is being impacted. Our roll-out to rural Haiti involves installing 40
solar powered computer labs in rural schools and connecting them to the
internet. The moment we got Fabiola’s school connected, she dove onto the
computer and immediately began researching the human reproductive system. When
we asked her what she was doing, she told us:
“Ever since I was young, I dreamed
of becoming a doctor. This lab will help me with my research… I really hope this
is not only a dream, but that I can make it happen in real life.”
In a rural community with no access to quality education or even books, technology becomes
the gateway to information and opportunity.
These are just some of the many
stories of people we have impacted through technology access.
Over the past 7
years, Inveneo has certified nearly 100 local partners in 25 countries.
Together, we’ve served more than 1.7 million people in more than 700 communities
throughout Haiti, sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia. But much, much more can be
done. Over the next few years, we want train 100s of Jerry Josephs, who will
become the engine for delivering rural ICTs so we can reach millions more. We
hope you will join us!
On behalf of my co-founders, the Inveneo team and our
in-country partners it is truly an honour to accept this award. Thank you.