Today we highlight an organization whose product could revolutionize the face of education and entrepreneurship in the developing world. Their idea though simple, is far reaching in scope. As highlighted in this week’s Economist, Ndiyo (a company founded by Quentin Stafford-Fraser, a former researcher at AT&T) is working to bring computers to the poorest parts of the world. Their business model is so simple that some simply shrug it off; but its beauty is in its simplicity. As stated in the their blog, Ndiyo technology allows a standard PC running Linux, the open-source operating system, to be shared by between five and ten people. Rather than focusing on creating more computers at a cheaper price, Ndiyo focuses on optimal use of current resources. Now that is resourceful! Also because Ndiyo relies on open source software, there is a higher likelihood of innovation developing from its new users.
While the wealthy world continues to benefit from the internet as a tool for commerce, education and social networking, we must remember that the majority of the world is without any form of computer access. The vast majority cannot afford computersâ€œ and this is a major problem.
The dynamics of the world have changed and the ’new literacy’ is the language of computer applications and internet searching. Imagine trying to compete in the job market without knowing how to use a keyboard. If we really wish to solve the world’s greatest problems, such as ending AIDS, conquering poverty or increasing world literacy ratesâ€œthe internet is how we will get there. It is the ultimate medium for communications and information sharing.
Cell phones have already started to catch-on in developing countries since they are relatively cheap. The use of these cell phones has empowered users far beyond initial expectations. As the Grameen Bank points out: cell phones have allowed Bangladeshi villagers to offset the cost of using cell phones by phoning nearby towns to find out where their produce can fetch the best price. This leads to higher earning ability, which leads to higher quality of life.
While empowerment through cell phones is impressive, the possibility afforded by internet use is far, far greater.