ICTs for Development

February 3, 2009

Philanthropy VS. Business

Filed under: Uncategorized — jin4shin @ 11:07 pm



 It seems like that OLPC (one laptop per child) project is struggling due to the sudden decline in corporate sponsorship. And I hear the organization recently downsized half of its staff. 

  Since so much has been written about OLPC, I don’t want to reiterate things already said here. But recent layoffs got me into thinking, even with well crafted and good intended foundation finds that the social impacts they desire are not being realized unless they harness market force.

 I mean the reason behind the success of Microfinance was the strategic use of market force. The Grameen bank’s model was profitable enough to sustain its operation. Why would Citi bank jump into that business if it wasn’t profitable. Yet, to me, OLPC’s Give 1 Get 1 initiative looks more like a philanthropy than to a sustainable enterprise.

 It’s just a dilemma in that you can’t ‘SELL’ laptops to African people (they are too expensive after all) and you can’t just give them away as an aid.

Here is the ted talk of Negroponte, a chairman of OLPC. The idea itself is mind-boggling and inspiring but I guess it needs a little more innovative way to deliver. 

Ted talks of Negroponte




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