Ed Cherlin and I spoke today. Ed lives in Silicon Valley, California and
leads our Earth Treasury working group
(please join!) and subwiki
He's the leader I'm organizing around for
Minciu Sodas and Worknets vision of education, both adults and children.
Please see below Ed's business plan outline and expertise request. His
goal is to end poverty, oppression, war, disease. His business will
organize all that's needed for the people of a village to organize a
bright future for themselves, including electricity, microfinance,
health services and one laptop per child.
This is all too much to believe. But I think that we do need to think
with Ed's boldness if we're going to address our local situations,
especially our challenges in Africa. I therefore ask us to take up his
challenge, to take him seriously and then, in turn, we will take each
other seriously as well.
What we agreed would be helpful for Ed, and for Worknets as well, and
for our African leaders, would be that we identify those among us who
aspire to be "super lab leaders" such as Samwel Kongere in Rusinga
Island, Kenya. Samwel's fish pond (for food security) is a good example
of the kind of project that Ed's business would find support for.
Together we can look for microcredit (about $2,000) to finance the fish
pond, and look for advice (such as from Jeff Buderer or Ben de Vries) on
how to make the most of the fish pond. And we can think how the fish
pond might be part of the wider effort for a village rebirth. Such
projects will help Ed's business become understandable to those who
might provide larger funds some day. I think it will also help him and
us think about all of the aspects of leading a lab and organizing a
global village, to help us make visible all that we do and should do, to
formulate and meet our expectations. What is our reality? Samwel, Franz
and all, please join Ed's group if you are interested!
Ed is also writing a book of "Lessons on Discovery".
"The chief task in building new learning materials will be discovering
ways to structure learning to maximize the amount of discovery the
children can achieve, with the minimum of direction."
What are the hints that inspire us to discover?
I'm hoping that Ed leads us to create and publish such isolated lessons
that each of us can learn to write so that we have a wonderful
collection of them. I have been thinking about writing "ethics lessons"
for our Worknets culture of independent thinkers - what behavior we
might expect of ourselves and why - because I think this is what truly
is important to teach and learn. I am thinking that mathematical
thinking can be relevant as the kind of models that come up in ethical
situations (sometimes multiplying, sometimes dividing, sometimes adding
or subtracting, for example). In Lithuania, we have participants
interested in making sense of money, and that is another place where
ethics and math come together. Consequently, I will be working on our
wiki interface so that it is helpful for publishing such individual lessons.
Ed and I have creative tension in our different concerns. Ed wants to
respond to poverty and serve those who might help. My own instinct is
that the notion of "poverty" separates people into a caste system of
"us" and "them", whereas if we engage each other as equals (as
independent thinkers with a shared culture), then we are brothers and
sisters and have a natural interest to care for each other and those
around us. In that sense, we multiply our resources and we get a richer
sense in what ways we are rich or poor.
Similarly, Ed has a list of solutions that have proven to work. But I
believe that the people who I'm attracted to, people like Ed, have a
creative streak where they're not so interested to do what's been proven
to work, but want to follow their own path. Furthermore, I think from a
business point of view, that this is the value that we have to offer in
remote villages, that we can be places to experiment and our research
can advance innovations (as in education, ecology, health) that would be
very expensive to develop in a wealthy or established country like the
US or Western Europe. If we ask, what can we offer the west? then I
believe we will discover the business value that Ed can offer.
So I hope that we might coach Ed just as he might coach us. What I
emphasize, though, is that organizing around Ed we have the opportunity
to advance ourselves as leaders of labs, of global villages and of
schools for self-learners. He might link us to the ideas and resources
we need to respond to Samwel's situation of food insecurity and many
other such real challenges that we're facing.
Please join us!
I am writing a business plan for Earth Treasury to include
infrastructure (electricity and Internet), education, and
microfinance, all in a virtuous cycle so that it can generate profits
for all concerned and put an end to poverty. I welcome any of you to
discuss how your initiatives could fit in here.
The overall anti-poverty and global empowerment plan is on the Earth
Treasury site. You will see that there is much more to it than this
business idea, such as replacing textbooks with Free digital media.
Here is a quick sketch of what I have in mind right now.
Go into a village, by invitation only, and start with non-technical,
non-financial organizing and planning, as do Sarvodaya and Grameen.
When conditions permit, including some education and training of
children and adults, start microfinance operations. We would like to
provide a telephone, a computer, the electricity to run them, and a
low bandwidth Internet connection to four entrepreneurial groups
(typically five women each). There are relatively easy business
opportunities at that point in e-commerce, with local art and craft
items obtainable nowhere else. We want to provide free information
services on the computer, and paid business services. We must examine
the costs and benefits of education so that we can find opportunities
with a short payback period to finance the longer education cycle to
support a lifetime of work and social engagement.
This begins a virtuous cycle, where every step enables other steps,
and almost all steps are profitable in a fairly short period.
o The Grameen Phone model for village infrastructure at a profit all around.
o The ITC e-choupal model of increasing farm income with village
computing for farmers.
o The Sarvodaya Shramadana model of integrated village development.
o The Partners in Health approach to health care.
o OneVillage Foundation, particularly in Ghana, is involved with
wireless communications, ICT, and education.
o One-to-one computing in education, so that children can do homework
together from their scattered homes and make friends around the world,
among other things. We expect some of those friendships to turn into
global business partnerships in time. One Laptop Per Child provides he
model for the computers, and Sugar Labs for the software. 40-year
computer and education pioneers Alan Kay (Smalltalk, GUIs,
Object-Oriented Programming), Seymour Papert (Logo, Turtle Art), and
Doug Engelbart (Mother of All Demos, Enhancing Collective
Intelligence) are major supporters.
Senator John McCain has recently endorsed the OLPC/Sugar program as a
counter-insurgency strategy. I'm not sure about that, since it might
make targets of the children in some places. But there are XOs in some
of the more difficult areas in Colombia, including Medellin, so maybe.
o Electricity and Internet for even the poorest and most remote
villages. The technology is here, and many for-profit and non-profit
organizations are working on various parts of the problem of
optimizing products and services for every inhabited terrain and
climate. The infrastructure sine qua non. We are negotiating with
SolarNetOne on integrated solar PV/wireless installations for 25 to
1,000 XOs in a school, plus lights, servers, and some outside
o Microfinance to complete the loop. Electricity and Internet
businesses can be profitable from the beginning. As children learn
computer skills, more and more opportunities will open up. We are
proposing to start with the Fantsuam Foundation's microfinance project
Our part of the program has opened up just recently because OLPC will
now accept orders for fewer than 10,000 XO laptops. The minimum order
is now 25 of the improved XO 1.5 units @ $250, or $6,250.
I don't see any problems in coming up with a financial plan showing
how much capital would be required for various possible rates of
growth. I do foresee numerous, mostly temporary, obstacles from
governments, from corruption, and from culture clashes. I have been
making a study of such problems, which does not mean that I have all
of the answers, but that we have a decent chance of asking the right
questions of the right people.
Many people confidently predict that what we are doing cannot be done.
My view is that it took 50 years for the campaign to end slavery in
the British Empire to come to fruition, and that I don't care whether
we can succeed tomorrow at something that must be done sooner or
later. And that doing it at a profit all around is the only way to do
Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement
Grameen Phone IPO
Quadir on TEDTalks: The impact one cell phone can make on a village...
Partners in Health. See also Mountains Beyond
Mountains, by Tracy Kidder; Rx for Survival, PBS
ITC e-choupal program
Harvard Business School on e-choupal
ITC eChoupal Initiative
by David M. Upton, Virginia A. Fuller
20 pages. Publication date: Oct 28, 2003. Prod. #: 604016-PDF-ENG
Soybean farmers in India have traditionally sold their product through
ineffective and frequently dishonest physical marketplaces (mandi).
Farmers are generally poor and often illiterate and are forced to be
"price-takers" after an arduous journey to the mandi. They also have
very limited access to information and education on farming
techniques. Describes the use of Internet technologies to reach these
farmers and, in particular, examines a new system called the eChoupal,
developed by the India...
ITC e-Choupal: Corporate Social Responsibility in Rural India -
Harvard Business Publishing
Case ITC e-Choupal: Corporate Social Responsibility in Rural India by
Ali Farhoomand, Saurabh Bhatnagar 26 pages. Publication date: Jun 30,
2008. Prod. #: HKU765-HCB-ENG Set against the ...
[PDF] ITC-eChoupal-Platform-Strategy on WRI.PDF
BSAP Conference, HBS Dec 1-3, 2005 ITC eChoupal ©Anupindi and
Sivakumar 1 ITCs e-Choupal A Platform Strategy for Rural
Transformation Ravi Anupindi Stephen M. Ross School of Business
University of Michigan Ann Arbor,...
Global Poverty Abstracts - Social Enterprise
Panel 4: Measuring Success at the Base of the Pyramid Panel 5: Civil
Society & Social Entrepreneurship Panel 6: Government Regulation &
Public-Private Partnerships Panel 7: Pre-conditions, Limitations & New
International Development with an MBA-twist - News
Conference on Global Poverty: Business Solutions & Approaches - Social
A Conference on Global Poverty: Business Solutions and Approaches
December 1-3, 2005 Overview Panel Sessions An index and full text
version of conference abstracts, by panel, is available at Panel
08-065 Copyright © 2008 by Nava Ashraf, Xavier Giné, and Dean Karlan
Edward Mokurai (??/???????????????/????????????? ?) Cherlin
Silent Thunder is my name, and Children are my nation.
The Cosmos is my dwelling place, the Truth my destination.