Telecentre Sustainability Colloquium at LirneAsia !
Recent colloquium held at Lirneasia (Sri Lanka) lead to continuous online dialogues, which is still on going. It has generated multiple outcomes; exposed new Sri lankan sustainability champions, sustainability related questions and diverse ground level opinions.
To make a telecentre (financially) sustainable, there should be a market. If there is not enough market how can we make it sustainable? If there is market why cannot someone start a cyber café? Isn't there a contradiction here? - Chanuka Wattegama
We in the subcontinent are more person-oriented than system-oriented. So, when it comes to the telecenters or ICT related initiatives, it is the individual that matters more than the system. - Nandasiri Wanninayaka
Critique on the Research
Sustainability First research findings has been presented to two unique audiences in North and South, during Jan & Feb, 2008. Objective was to get a constructive critique into the emerging perspectives through the current findings. Venues were LirneAsia (Sri Lanka) and Microsoft Research, Seattle, USA.
Common feature was both places lead to heated debates (as expected), as the presentations were designed to welcome arguments.
'I have read interesting stories in the Sustinability First blog. Good thing they are presented to build a positive picture about sustainability. But, it is equally important for one to learn the failures! What is not working? So others can learn from them, and probably can avoid'. - Karishma Kiri, Director, Microsoft Research.
'I cannot understand why you are trying to distinguish between Telecentres and Cyber-cafes?' - Chanuka Wattegama, Researcher, LirneAsia, Sri Lanka.
(Both discussions were very useful to recognize the gaps in the ongoing research. We are very grateful for both institutions for sharing time and interest).
telecentre.org aims to support the telecentre operators to build economic sustainability of their operations. Knowing the magnitidue of the demands and challanges, telecentre.org has assigned a visiting fellow (Dr Harsha Liyanage) to engage in a research study, while engaging the services of NESsT Pvt Ltd (http://www.nesst.org/) to build the social enterprise capacity of the telecentre networks. This mission is named as 'Sustainability First', and this blog site is dedicated to share the findings with the interested wider audiance while engaging their participation in to the mission of 'Susatinability First'.
Telecentre operator: Among others…one big problem is to pay the repair bills when the computers break down..! Network Manager: How can I convince the 100 telecentre operators, that the income they generate is not sufficient to balance the running cost..? A University Professor: Sustainability…. Is it about economics?.. local ownership? ….and what about their Carbon foot print?Donor: How many telecentres can run on their own when the project funding is over?
NESsT (Nonprofit Enterprise and Self-sustainability Team) (www.nesst.org) share their research & social enterprise capacity building experiences in the Sustainability First research work. NESsT works to solve critical social problems in emerging market countries by developing and supporting social enterprises.