Sunday, 30 September 2007

Every thing under ‘One Roof’

They are unique because they offer very unfamiliar services from Telecentres; Solar panels, Clean water filters, HIV Counselling, Carrier counselling, Insurance and loan arrangements, all under one telecentre roof.

One Roof Inc. is a US based private company having subsidiaries in Chennai, India and Veracruz & Yucatana, Mexico. The company emerge as a ‘Social enterprise’, converting the experiences & credibility of community development organization – ‘World Corps’, founded in 1998. They had been engaged in youth entrepreneurship development and developing internet telecentres. Six World Corps staff members determined to invest private capital than philanthropic dollars to transform the non-profit World Corps to for-profit One Roof, since 2005.

As of now, there are 10 telecenters operational in India and another 9 in Mexico. They target to open about 3000 in India alone. One Roof offers a franchise model, encouraging the local investors to open up telecenters. Company provide brand name, MIS (Management Information System), capacity building and more importantly 9 marketable areas of services.

The niche area of One Roof is their ability to broker with enterprises who hardly considered telecentres as a potential outreach model. They had successfully engaged private companies to offer their products to the One Roof telecentres. For example, a Solar Panel system costs around US$30,000 in Mexico. Government has a grant scheme to support poor communities to install Solar panels, but the application procedures are too complicated. One Roof telecenters offer the ‘Grant application assistance’ to applicants. And they broker with private company to supply the Solar panels, to the successful applicants. One Roof telecentre charge a fee of US$20 - 40 for this service.

The business model seems to be working, as the services continue to offer in 19 telecentres opened so far in two countries. The telecentre model is expected to reach break even point in 6 months time. On the other hand, they believe these services are helpful to empower deprived communities, providing clean water, health, energy and educational services. Thus it is reckoned as a Social Enterprise.

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