In many parts of the world, telecentre operators recognize ICT skill development as the default path to income generation. Yet, many telecentre activists argue against this choice.
Why..? One argument is - telecentres are opportunity windows to empower communities. ICT Skill development is a too narrow educational engagement. The other argument is that telecentres can become ICT training centres distracting from their main social purpose.
In a recent participatory workshop conducted by NESsT (http://www.nesst.com/) at Fusion (http://www.fusion.lk/) of Sarvodaya, Sri Lanka, 25 telecentre operators were tasked to list the potential income generation products for the telecentres to reach financial targets. The discussion lead to list over 20 potential products; which consisted knowledge products, telecentre based market research, Business Process Outsourcing, online marketing etc. At the end of the workshop, the short listing ended putting ICT Skill Development at the top (once again).
- Consistent demand at the rural communities
- Most of the telecentre operators are familiar with offering ICT courses (thus no need of additional capacity building)
- No initial investment required
- Required material (eg syllabuses) are easily accessible
- Standardization institutes are available in the near rural settings
- Required infrastructure facilities already available
Why not BPO (which had reached the second potential product in the list)..?
- Telecentre operators are not familiar
- Required lot of capacity building
- Required capital investments
- Absence of support services
- No supportive infrastructure
- Absence of enabling environment (legal setting, back up support services).