February 2, 2009
Fast Company reports that on February 3rd, the Indian government will unveil a $10 educational laptop with 2GB of RAM, Wi-Fi and expandable hardware, that operates on only two watts of power. Mass production costs are $20, but expect this to be halved as large-scale production starts up.
The laptop is an answer to MIT’s Nicholas Negroponte’s $100 One Laptop Per Child. Can’t wait to see what it looks like in a few days!
Click here for the Fast Company article.
**Update: It turns out that the $10 laptop is not a full-functioning laptop, but a “computing” device with storage. Read the comments below for more information. **
February 2, 2009
Google is starting to enter the world of ICTD (Information and Communication Technologies and Development) by funding initiatives to bring internet to small, rural villages in Africa. One such project, implemented by three engineers from University of Michigan, involves installing satellite dishes powered by solar panels to hookup computers in the local community to the rest of the world.
The head of Google’s East Africa office, Joseph Mucheru, notes that “building infrastructure is not necessarily Google’s objective, but if you look at all the areas that Google has gone into, in many cases it has been to fill a gap… The market should see the opportunity.”
Google’s entry into ICTD seems to be an especially appropriate fit for a corporate social responsibility strategy. Google can help rural villages get “online,” and also ensure their place in a new market.
It will be interesting to see if internet adoption in Africa and other developing country follows the same trajectory as mobile phone adoption – e.g. leapfrog over “standard” infrastructure like electricity grids by using solar-powered mobile phone towers.
Click here for the full New York Times article.
September 2, 2008
After finishing up an exciting International Business Development assignment in El Salvador, and heading home for a few days to do laundry, I boarded a plane once again and headed off to London for my summer internship. As someone who has always done work centered around emerging markets with no prior experience in Europe, I didn’t know quite what to expect when joining the general leadership/corporate strategy summer program at British Telecommunications (BT). As it turns out, my work was far more international than I could have expected. In fact, during the first few weeks, I had a difficult time keeping my colleagues’ countries straight: the Russian going to school at INSEAD in Singapore, the HBS Israeli paired on a project with the American at IESE in Spain, the Indian at Chicago GSB or the Spaniard at Stanford. Not only were the 21 summer interns incredibly diverse, but the full-time team was as well.
This made for an incredibly interesting work environment as this team of diverse MBAs tackled many of the problems that BT faces from its legacy as a company (and previously a government institution) that has been around for over one hundred years. Although the work was intense, I didn’t miss the opportunity to hang out with this global group in a less formal setting. In fact, my favorite Friday tradition in London became traveling with my coworkers to the far extremes of the city (Whitechapel, Eastham, Westham, Southall) to sample some of the finest Indian food I have ever had.
London itself is an incredible city that is both an exciting place to live, and an international travel hub. The cuisine, the museum art, the cultural shows, and the diversity of its people have all contributed to London’s identity as a truly global city. How appropriate that on one of my last tube journeys I should see the following advertisement that so aptly describes my summer: “see the world – visit london”
August 26, 2008
I couldn’t be more excited to announce a new speaker series for FallA that GIH has been helping organize along with two Acumen Fund Alumni, David Lehr and Jocelyn Wyatt. The speaker series is titled: Enterprising Solutions: Market-Based Approaches for Reducing Global Poverty.
You can read all about the class including the specific topics and speakers for each week. This class is going to be an excellent forum to discuss and learn about these newer market-based approaches to development. My goal is to make the class as inter-disciplinary as possible by inviting students from across the campus to join the debate and dialogue about these topics. We want to use this class to help students meet others who are interested in these same areas, regardless of their discipline.
This speaker series is the result of a partnership between GIH and two excellent ambassadors to this field: David Lehr and Jocelyn Wyatt. David and Jocelyn have volunteered their time to lead lectures at the beginning of each class and used their fantastic network to recruit some top-notch speakers! I can’t thank them enough for their dedication to making this class happen.
I look forward to seeing you in class!
June 21, 2008
Now that IBD in Gabon is over, I am in Ghana for a 10 week internship at BusyInternet, which started as an internet cafe/copy center, but also offers a plethora of services ranging from ISP (dial-up, broadband, satellite) and SME (small/medium enterprise) incubation to laptop repair, event hosting, and movie nights.
Busy is located off of Ring Rd., which is one of the main roads in Accra:
Most of this week was consumed by organizing and facilitating a two-day workshop for brainstorming the restructuring of Busy’s ISP business unit. I am pleasantly surprised to have the opportunity to apply concepts learned from my Organizational Behavior class this past fall =). I have also started interviewing people from Busy’s various departments (HR, Finance, Sales, Tech, Help Desk, etc.) to get to know the business better and also assess Busy’s functional requirements for a CRM implementation. It’s a bit intimidating thinking about designing, configuring, testing, deploying, and training a CRM application in 10 weeks (especially when this is usually done by a large team of consultants over the course of at least six months), but I hope that whatever I accomplish, I will make a lasting impact.
May 7, 2008
Global Initiatives was fortunate today to have an engaging discussion with Haas ’96 alum Mark Beckford, who spent a significant amount of time developing Intel’s products and solutions for emerging markets. His background includes building strategies to sell to small business consumers in developing countries, setting up a new division to examine these strategies, and focusing on growing Intel’s business in internet cafes in China.
Mark spoke about Clayton Christenson’s books and how they emphasize that products with a simpler, cheaper value proposition will hollow out the existing market. This is how companies should view and approach Emerging Markets. In addition, Mark mentioned that content will likely be one of the biggest challenge areas in emerging markets, particularly since there does not seem to be one solution that applies to all regions. Finally, we engaged in a lively discussion of barriers to product uptake, wimax solutions, new business models, and income divides.
While I greatly appreciated the discussion, I was even more inspired to hear Mark’s story of how his own passion was ignited for “technology that can change people’s lives.”
May 1, 2008
Interesting article in today’s Financial Times about the role of rural computer centers in agriculture markets.