To address the digital divide, development agencies have funded telecentres which are defined ‘‘as spaces offering public access to ICTs for educational, personal, social and economic development’’. While such telecentres have provided valuable services to their communities, they are not profitable enough to sustain without public funding and often go bankrupt when donors withdraw. Therefore, 'Lack of sustainability' is one of the common complain against telecentres nowadays. So, telecentres have the challenge of serving the community while ensuring the sustainability of the telecentres.
Can eBusinessbe an effective solution in determining the sustainability of telecentres? In this Flavor of the month forum, let us discuss how can we make use of eBusiness and how can eBusiness contributes to the sustainability of telecentres by investigating innovative technology-enabled business models – e-Business models.
Kindly share all your success stories on how eBusinesses have helped telecentres and their communities by sharing your ideas, thoughts and experiences on
Let discuss, share knowledge and open up new perspectives for entrepreneurs in order to reduce the digital divide and foster e-Inclusion through telecentres.
While sincerely inviting you all for the forum: let me share one of the success stories from Nenasala (telecentre) in Sri Lanka, where a young telecentre manager helped out his community by launching a website that promotes and market the handicrafts made by the local community. The story reads as follows:
"Rajarata Nenasala" in Galenbindunuwewa is 45 minute from the ancient city of Anuradhapura, lying in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka. Established under the entrepreneurial model, "Rajarata Nenasala" commenced operations in November 2006 by providing basic communication needs, information and technological services with a contribution to the rural development of ICTs in Sri Lanka. With the leadership of a rural youth, Chandika Samarakoon who was passionate in experiencing how technology can benefits the people of his village, stated a new venture affiliated to the services of his Nenasala. Chandika established an export company in his Nenasala representing all small business enterprises of Sri Lanka.
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) can be identified as an important strategic sector for promoting growth and social development of Sri Lanka. Over the years, SMEs have gained wide recognition as a major source of employment, income generation, poverty alleviation and regional development. The SMEs cover broad areas of economic activity such as agriculture, mining, manufacturing, construction and service sector industries. Although the SMEs are important component of Sri Lanka’s rural economy, many of these enterprises have difficulty in marketing their products. While they are often at the mercy of middle men in the domestic market, their exposure to the international market is very limited. Some of these businesses are therefore compelled to wind up operations after a short time period due to poor sales and failure in generating an income.
Taking this idea into his consideration, Chandika implemented a new project e –Business for SMEs” with an attempt to increase market opportunities for local SMEs by enhancing their visibility both locally and internationally using the online catalog and e-Business solution. Rajarata Nenasala has launched a web site “www.smallbizlanka.com” to showcase and market the products of SMEs in the area of Galenbindunuwewa. Basic intention behind the project is to create marketing opportunities for the SMEs by using Information & Communication Technology (ICT) available to them in their Nenasala. Utilizing its own resources and by leveraging on the Nenasala Network, Rajarata Nenasala has being able to sign up SMEs into the field of eCommerce. This project has provided SMEs, an ideal opportunity of showcasing their products to a wide clientele and securing direct marketing opportunities at more realistic price not only within Sri Lanka, also in the overseas as well.
Speaking on the project, Chandika reiterated that “The main source of income in my area is agriculture. The economic situation of our people is very unstable and unpredictable. We have a Nenasala (telecentre) and internet connectivity. So I thought I can help my community by promoting their SMEs. In fact, I wanted to create a dynamic SME sector, enhance their capabilities and competitiveness, create jobs and, in doing so, reduce poverty in our village.”
The main objective of launching the ‘Small Biz Lanka’ website was to support and integrate approach in building a dynamic SME sector in Galenbindunuwewa area. Further, it was expected to strengthen the enabling business environment for SMEs, catalyzes investment by improving SMEs access to commercial finance and enhances the capacity of SMEs to efficiently and effectively involve in market opportunities.
“The customers can purchase products showcased in the website by contacting Rajarata Nenasala. Once the order is given and amount is paid, we will manage to send out the requested items via postal services.” Chandika further noted that they have recently implemented a payment gateway for the web site which will enable the customers from around the world to purchase products from the Small Biz Lanka web site.
Chandika together with his staff in Rajarata Nenasala expresses their sincere gratitude to the ICTA for the tremendous support given to them in implementing the project for the benefit of their rural community. They assure that they are successfully heading towards achieving their vision: to become the best e-Businessservice provider in Sri Lanka.
Few years back, SME sector in the area of Galenbindunuwewa was less dynamic and underdeveloped. The growth and expansion of SMEs were constrained by problems related to production and lack of market opportunities. The e-Businessproject launched by Rajarata Nenasala has provided solutions to the problems of SMEs. By the same time, Rajarata Nenasala has become the access point to all the SMEs in Galenbindunuwewa area to venture the market opportunities available for them outside their village.
For More Information Contact
Mr. Sudath Chandika Samarakoon,
Nenasala Manager-Rajarata Nenasala
e- Mail: email@example.com
hi Seu, thanks for sharing this information. im a new telecentre manager from Malaysia. telecentre.org's forum sharing a lot of knowledge that can i use to improving my telecentre.
How might someone in the United States help promote your e-Businessproject? Barbara Fedock
Telecentres & eBusiness - that is the future right there Seuwandi and, if you could make that connection a reality, the impact of Telecentres on the livelihoods of countless people across the world would be enormous, their lives would be positively impacted and even transformed.
In my belief, the future of The Village rests in the hands of the Telecentres - though neither may fully appreciate that yet. And the future of entire Communities rests in the hands of the Villages - though neither may fully appreciate that yet. And the future of entire Countries rests in the hands of Communities - though neither may fully appreciate that yet. And may I also add that I believe the future of many Communities rests in the hands of Cooperatives and the third (social) sector in general, again - though neither may fully appreciate that yet.!
We all live in Villages, even when we live in the cities, and it is the Village that is closest to the people and that impacts most on most peoples lives. But it is the Telecentre in the Village - and their ought to be one in every Village worldwide - that will however impact most on peoples Livelihoods. It will only do this however when it embraces eBusiness, as you propose here, being both with and for its local community. And that will only begin with everyone marches as one to cross the digital divide as you suggest, via digital literacy or digital competence education. eBusiness starts there, all the rest follows.
But we must acknowledge that there is a big gap, as this is obvious and would otherwise have happened already. After much exploring I am convinced that the missing link is a 'Village Hub', a Community Hub, into which the Telecentre formula 'fits'. That Hub would be a Meeting Point where people cross the Telecentre 'threshold' in the first instance, and before they ever become digitally literate and cross the digital divide, before they ever become comfortable with the online world and before they ever embrace eBusiness in any form. That's the immense challenge today on a world scale. All the rest is doable. That Hub can be a Roundtable in a local Cafe, or in a night College space or at a local Business or Coop or Third Sector Org space or even combined with the Telecentre itself - but it is the place where the motivation starts, where people learn why they ought to do what they could do, learn what to do and then how to do - then go and do it at the Telecentre and with the Hub.
Sure, there are many different obstacles to progress, and as reported here on Telecentre website by many people, those differ from country to country, culture to culture, community to community, as well as across genders, age groups etc. It is at the Village Hub that people will first feel a sense of care from other people in their Village, build a trust, cross the treshold, the divide and eBusiness will then light up their Village. Eureka!.
That element, care, has been lost in so much of society, its how trust is won back and even how people can survive through much of what life throws at them.
In the final analysis, the people that Telcentres alone are best equipped to help are the most vulnerable in society - and they exist in every single community in every country and culture across the world...they are the 'Coping Classes'....the unemployed, the low income earners, the less well educated and the ageing populations. When tacked - all of society wins, that means everyone wins...including their Governments and local businesses alike ...all benefitting from more jobs, and the overall rise of a third sector economy. Rollon the Telecentre, its hour has come and I trust it will grab it. It has got the leadership it takes. Keep up the great work Seuwandi, it is as exhilerating a task as it is challenging. I would love to see that day.
Many thanks for your participation in this forum
Thank you very much for your inputs and its a great pleasure to read through your ideas.
As I went through, i felt that you have summarized the whole concept of eBusiness and telecentres in a more comprehensive manner.
I appreciate your thoughts. Many thanks again. best and Keep in touch :)
Just like what you have shared us Seu, it opens opportunity for a successful E-Business because it enables even the previously less represented people be known. Telecentres help them showcase their talents that eventually creates livelihood as well. Maybe we just need to intensify more the trainings with these people about all aspects of putting up and sustaining a business-- production, marketing, finance, RND, etc. If a business which these people has developed through Telecentres has progressed and indeed impacted their lives, more likely that even without donations at their own initiative and desire would really want to maintain telecentres.
Hi Zendie, thank you very much for your participation in this forum. Hope you have come across with certain success stories of Philippines' telecentres where they do eBusiness and help their local communities. It would be great if your could share few stories with us. :)
Hi Seu. Since you shared an example from Sri Lanka, I'd also like to share the example of Thailand, specifically, the Thaitelecentre E-Mall, which sells products made by people who have received training in telecentres. It's an interesting initiative and I hope our other members can also check it out (the page is in Thai but a language translator plugin should easily be able to solve the language issue).
Also, for those who may be interested, SAP and Ashoka Changemakers are hosting a #SocEntChat on Twitter on Wednesday, July 18, 2012, between 10AM and 12AM CET (4 p.m. Philippine time) on The Power of Small: Entrepreneurs Strengthening Local Economies – about helping small businesses to thrive, as well as how can we support entrepreneurship in underserved communities. For more information on the chat, you can go here.
Hi Vida, many thanks for sharing this info on Thaitelecentre e-Mall. its was great to explore their web portal on Open Market, Development Market and Premium Market. :)
Many thanks for your participation in this forum.
Great idea...I am just got free today to answer your interesting issue....we have some success stories...Thai Telecentre.org will share soon...