Inveneo Launches Partner Program for IT Entrepreneurs in Africa

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Program provides advanced training and support for local Information and Communications Technology (ICT) experts to accelerate availability and sustainability of rural ICT solutions for development organizations.

Inveneo, a non-profit social enterprise, announced plans to formalize and scale its Inveneo Certified ICT Partner (ICIP) program. This is a program to recruit, train, certify and support in-country Information and Communication Technology (ICT) professionals with the goal of improving availability, affordability and local support levels for ICTs in remote and rural communities in the developing world. Inveneo is able to launch this program and rollout in East Africa due to the support from 50x15, a global initiative founded by Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD) to enable 50 percent of the world's population with affordable Internet access and computing capability by the year 2015.

Inveneo has created a breakthrough model to serve remote and rural communities in developing countries with ICTs. Inveneo does this by designing, integrating, deploying and supporting solutions (hardware/software/power) for NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations), local governments, and private entities to enable them to build capacity for their vital education, economic development, healthcare, relief and other services. Inveneo's systems are affordable, open and highly sustainable. They are designed specifically for the challenging physical and operating environments that these organizations often face.

In March 2006, Inveneo released its first system -- an ultra-low-power PC and Communications System -- designed to provide computing, Internet access, telephony (VoIP) and regional wireless (WiFi) broadband for rural villages with little or no access to grid power or affordable communications. Since then, Inveneo has 20 projects completed or underway that use this system or a custom solution for schools, economic development projects and relief organizations.

But appropriate technology is only part of the solution. For rural ICTs to be truly sustainable, there must be a network of in-country experts who can install and support these systems. With the launch of the ICIP program, Inveneo will recruit, train and certify local Inveneo Certified ICT Partners to build a network that can distribute, install and support ICT projects for the organizations Inveneo serves. This approach reduces the cost of installation and support by at least 60 percent, dramatically increases service speed and quality, and provides the local partners with significant revenue opportunities.

In 2006, Inveneo established a small, successful pilot program in Uganda by partnering with local experts to provide installation and support. Today, this program is thriving with five projects completed or underway with two Ugandan partners, Linux Solutions (http://www.linuxsolutions.co.ug) and Keyskills.

Key ICIP program elements include:

  • Recruiting and screening of local, highly talented ICT professionals, who are typically small-business entrepreneurs with 2 - 20 employees.
  • Providing qualified entrepreneurs with a two - three week intensive, advanced training and certification process. The classroom and hands-on training courses focus on deploying rural solutions and cover IT networking, long-distance wireless (WiFi) networking, Linux/Open Source desktop management, VoIP telephony and power design.
  • Offering access to ongoing technical and business support resources for proposal development and technical-issue resolution, along with ongoing training and information on rural ICTs to certified entrepreneurs who become ICIPs.
  • Enabling ICIPs to generate and retain 100 percent of fees for services they provide to Inveneo clients, and to receive discounts on equipment purchased from Inveneo for resale.

Inveneo is currently developing the training and support systems, and will rollout the full program in East Africa over the next six months. Inveneo's goal is to establish new ICIPs in Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania, which will be in addition to ICIPs already working in Uganda and Guinea Bissau. Inveneo plans to expand the program to new countries with additional support from private donors and foundations.

"The ICIP program will strongly benefit rural communities and the organizations which serve them," says Inveneo CEO Mark Summer. "It dramatically lowers the cost of installation and support by over 60 percent, while building local expertise and the local ICT economy, which drives even greater ICT availability and sustainability."

Funding for the initial program development and East Africa rollout was provided by AMD. AMD's motivation behind its early investment in ICIP is the program's strong alignment with the 50x15 Initiative. The development of sustainable and replicable ICT ecosystems in emerging markets is critical to realizing the 50x15 goal, and programs such as ICIP are instrumental in developing local IT experts who can share their knowledge by training others within their communities.

"Inveneo and their local partner, Linux Solutions, played a primary role in managing the installation of ICT centers in three secondary schools for AMD and their partners the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) and the Uganda government," notes Dan Shine, director of the 50x15 Initiative, AMD. "This experience shows how AMD can leverage Inveneo's in-country installation and support network to achieve the aggressive goal of connecting 50 percent of the world by 2015."

We encourage potential ICT partners in Africa to contact us at itpartners (at) inveneo.org. More information on the program and partner qualifications is available at http://www.inveneo.org/?q=itpartners.

We encourage potential supporters or strategic partners for this program to read our white paper, "Meeting the Challenge: Expanding Rural ICT Access in Developing Countries" by downloading it here: http://www.inveneo.org/download/ICIPWhitePaper2007.pdf.

About Inveneo
Inveneo is a non-profit social enterprise whose mission is to get the tools of information and communications technology into the hands of organizations and people who need them most -- those in remote and rural communities in the developing world. For more than 2.5 billion people living in these communities, gaining access to ICT -- either directly or via service organizations -- can transform their lives in simple yet profound ways. Access to ICT can help save lives (rural healthcare), provide better economic opportunities (agriculture, entrepreneurship) and provide a better future for their children (education).

To date, Inveneo has 20 projects completed or underway in Uganda, Rwanda, Ghana, Mali, Guinea Bissau and Burkina Faso. These projects serve schools (50%), economic development groups, telecenters, and relief camps in 66 communities. They will reach over 60,000 people, directly or indirectly, with life-changing ICTs. Our goal is to serve over 4,000 communities in the next three years. For more information, visit http://www.inveneo.org.

About 50x15
The 50x15 Initiative, launched by AMD in 2004 at the World Economic Forum, is a bold and far-reaching effort to develop new technology and solutions that will help enable affordable Internet access and computing capability for 50 percent of the world's population by the year 2015. More than just goodwill, 50x15 is about fostering long-term economic progress and investment within high-growth markets in ways that benefit a wide range of people and businesses. For more information, visit http://www.50x15.com.

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Peter Brooks
Inveneo
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