Two tales of telecentre sustainability

March 1, 2006 § Leave a comment

Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka – February 25, 2006

Financing and sustainability are always topics of conversation when you get telecentre people together. Two interesting tales to note in this regard from the last few days in Sri Lanka …


Story one: Sarvodaya’s Nuwara Eliya telecentre is generating a profit, which is in turn used to subsidize other activities in their district centre (the building where the telecentre is housed).  Income from telecentre services is between RS80 – 100,000 ($US800 – 1,000) per month, and expenses are around RS70,000 ($US700). Income is generated from photocopying, Internet use and, especially, training courses. Courses include basic office software, graphic design and web design. While the profit is modest, a case of a telecentre subsidizing other social services is a pretty rare thing – especially when there is a 20 seat donor funded computer training centre just up the road. This situation may change when ICTA stops subsidizing the VSat under the Nanasala program.


Story two: As a part of their rural knowledge centre program, D.Net has turned to a novel fundraising technique: they hold a fundraising event every year in New Jersey seeking donations for the telecentre cause. At this event, Bangladeshi’s living in the U.S get to meet members of the D.Net team and see videos showing how telecentres are working at the village level. They are also asked to donate towards the cost of purchasing computers and setting up a centre in a particular village (mostly, their own village). It’s almost like a twinning program. D.Net has been able to finance over 50 centres using this method as well as funding drives within Bangladesh. They are hoping to get to 1,000.

I’d like to dig deeper on both of these examples, to find out what’s behind them and whether there is something for others to learn here. Just blogging the rough picture here as a reminder to go back and investigate further.

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