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The telecentre sustainability is being regarded as a huge issue for a long time now and was intensively mentioned and debated during the 1st day of the 3rd Global Forum of Telecentres, taking place in Santiago, Chile.

Ms Jimena Betancourt from NESsT led the discussion about the social enterprise model as a means towards telecentre sustainability.

A thought-provoking invitation was addressed to all telecentres by Mr Gerardo Villalpando of Microsoft Chile that challenged the audience to innovate and become what’s next, while presenting the business sector perspective on telecentre sustainability and the challenge was immediately followed-up by some very interesting examples of how the individual telecentres and the networks of telecentres can be self-sustainable.

One of these examples was provided by Ethel Monge, Project Director of Conexion El Salvador - that highlighted the critical role of the telecentre managers / operators in developing innovative community partnerships with businesses and institutions.

Ethel pointed-out at least a couple of occasions in which the telecentres provided training services for doctors or for disabled people, services that had an impressive social impact and also generated revenue for the telecentres. The El Salvador experience proves that a telecentre-based organization can become a social business addressing community real needs.

Victoria Hurtado, Director of Foro Innovación Chile - reminded that telecentres have the ability to bring EQUITY in communities, reaching the hard-to-reach, and this is one of the strengths telecentres should exploit for sustainability purposes. The statistics show that the internet use translates into economic improvement, as mentioned by Sergio Cavagnaro from Pais Digital, while offering a macro-perspective of the opportunities for telecentre sustainability.

Despite the fact that the social enterprise is a taboo subject (El Salvador) or it is already old-fashioned and surmounted by the public-private partnership model (Mozambique), it seems there’s a constant intriguing interest for telecentres in exploring how the model could be further scaled and adapted.

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