May 6, 2007 Comments Off on Fusing

Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 2007. While I was in Sri Lanka, Sarvodaya launched it’s new Fusion program at HQ in Moratuwa. Watching the Fusion powerpoint, it was tempting to ask: what is this? In some ways it comes across as a mishmash of telecentres, e-agriculture activities and everything else under the sun. While can be confusing at first, it makes sense. Much of Fusion’s basic logic is built around the idea of rationalizing and accelerating all of Sarvodaya’s existing ICT4D efforts (telecentres, community outreach, training, wireless, content). Over the years,these things have all spread apart with different teams, managers and offices all over the Colombo area. It was time to rope them all in and then head off in a single direction. At the most simple level, this is what Fusion is doing.


However, it is clear than Fusion is ā€“ or at least can be ā€“ much more when you take the time to sit with the whole team, as I did last Saturday. It really is a ‘fusion’ of ideas, programs and vision that is quite rare. You have people on the team who come from accounting and sales, technologists and tinkerers and community development activists who have worked in Sarvodaya for almost 20 years. Together, these people have the chance to mix together the wisdom from Sarvodaya’s history with the creativity, the power of new information technologies and opportunity of social enterprise ideas. In the immediate term, these folks may only merge Sarvodaya’s existing ICT programs (useful but not visionary). However, In the long run, I expect these people are going to create a current that will make people around the world pay attention.


It’s worth saying that Fusion’s business plan (like the powerpoint) doesn’t yet tell the story of the people, networks and ground presence that sit behind Fusion. I have offered to help Harsha with this, helping to better describe these existing assets and looking at future products … and generally to make the plan less NGOish.

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