Selling information to the poor communities....!?! Well sounds impossible. But it is happening in the real world, with the mastery of D.Net (www.dnet-bangladesh.org) the Applied research based, development NGO of Bangladesh.
Pallithtaya kendra (telecentre) (http://www.pallitathya.org/), model of D.Net has so much to offer in the sustainability quest. They offer knowledge / information services, for a fee. Villagers visit these places to obtain agriculture, health and educational information which are made available in local (Bangala) language.
Taking Pallithtaya kendra as the ‘front end’, D.Net had invested substantial time and expert resources to build up a sound ‘back end’ support system which consist of a knowledge data base and professional help desk.JEEON-ikb (Information and Knowledge base: file:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/Harsha%20Liyanage/Application%20Data/Microsoft/Word/www.abolombon.org/jeeon) is the name of the database carrying over 30,000 local language web pages, covering 9 thematic areas which include Agriculture, Health, Education, Human Rights, Job bank etc. D.Net interacts with over 100 institutions to update the data base and expect about 10-20% of the annual operational budget to be generated by the sales of knowledge products.
D.Net’s patient invesements over decade long journey since 1996, proving to be paying off. In addition to the Pollithtya Kendras, they are entering to the income generation of scale. Grameen CIC (http://www.grameenphone.com/), the giant telecom company who sets up a large scale telecentre network (500 Grameen CICs – country wide), is considering to build business partnerships with D.Net. The goal of the D.Net is to trade Local language capability, Research know-how & local need based knowledge products, in there negotiation tables.
'Though we have come long way developing our niche capacity on information informediary services, we are not comfortable about our present scale of revenue generation' - Dr Ananya Reihan, founding Director of D.Net.
But immediate future seems to offer many prospects as telecentres are mushrooming all across the Bangladesh landscape.‘Our long term goal is to master BOI (Benefit on Investment) instead of ROI (Return on Investment), where we may capture profits from richer communities, to compensate the thin economic gains with poor segments’ – D.Net sounds very determined.