Social enterprise goes viral …

December 29, 2005 § Leave a comment

Somewhere around Smith Falls, Ontario

Looking out the snowy train window, I realize that there was another thing that impressed me at last week’s village computing event … something that snuck up on me so quietly that I forgot to blog it.


At the event, there was an unassuming book placed at each seat around the table — the Grameen USA Village Phone Replication Manual. Based on Grameen USA’s experience transporting the village phone model from Bangladesh to Uganda and Rawanda, this book is literally a detailed how-to guide on setting up a self-sustaining-grassroots-technology-spreading-social-enterprise. The guide shows the network of partners, the technology, the supply chain, the ‘what’s in it for who’ money flows. 150+ pages of gruelling social / tech / business strategy detail.


As a man on a bender for replicable grassroots technology models, I was super impressed by this effort. Here is a group (Grameen USA) who not only had the smarts and gumption to bring the village phone from Asia to Africa, but they also had the courage to write down and share their experience. And, they did it in the spirit of growing, spreading and evolving the model. The book download site says:

Check here to acknowledge that you agree to the following terms for downloading this publication: This information is shared in the spirit of international cooperation and is in the public domain. We ask that all users of this manual similarly share any modifications, variants, and/or lessons learned from experience so new information can be incorporated into the broader learning of the global Village Phone movement. Thank you.

Stepping up to the plate with an attitude like this takes alot of vision — one of the key ingredients needed to make the grassroots technology revolution real. Of course, there is also a need for more Sicily + business + service models with the simplicity and power of the village phone … and more people with the courage to help them spread like wildfire.

Anyways, kudos to Grameen USA for this publication. They are clearly doing good work.

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