New Developments for OLPC and Intel’s Classmate PC

Here are some important updates on what’s going on with the OLPC and the Classmate PC. First, it looks like Nigeria has selected Classmate PCs running Linux for a nationwide pilot in their country. The article (via slashdot), offered by the linux company supplying the operating system, discusses how 17,000 computers will be provided in Nigeria.

Mandriva today announced that the Nigerian government has selected Intel-powered classmate PCs running on Mandriva Linux for educational use in nationwide pilot in Nigeria. Mandriva is working with Intel Corporation and Technology Support Center Ltd. to provide 17,000 Intel-powered classmate PC. The aim of this project is to improve the quality of technology delivered to students, and to help teachers and parents.

What’s OLPC up to? No updates on big wins like this but Microsoft did announce that they will be building an operating system for the OLPC. Negroponte is fine with this, as he wants to promote the open source spirit with the project.

While the news that Microsoft is developing a version of Windows for the so-called “$100 laptop” has caused some consternation, One Laptop Per Child Chairman Nicholas Negroponte has said the project could not promote openness if it blocked Windows.

Broadcast Your Cause: YouTube

Not sure if I’ve ever talked about YouTube’s non-profit program so here it is really quickly:

You can use YouTube as a free marketing tool to spread awareness about your nonprofit. The purpose of the program is to allow you to connect with supporters, volunteers, and donors in a cost effective way (free!). Youtube will add your video to the “Non-profit channel” and it can be watched by all of YouTube’s loyal nonprofit channel viewers.

Also note that the first three hundred nonprofits to sign up will receive a free video camera! Here is more information from YouTube:

Your Nonprofit channel includes:

* Premium branding capabilities and increased uploading capacity
* Rotation of your videos in the “Promoted Videos” areas throughout the site
* The option to drive fundraising through a Google Checkout “Donate” button

Here’s the link to apply:

The Social Impact of Social Networking

A few days ago, I wrote about MySpace Impact, which is a social networking initiative to help non-profits with online marketing and collecting donations. I’m really interested in how well these programs work, especially because the web can have a huge impact on the marketing component of most charities.

It seems like I’m not the only one interested in this topic– the Berkeley >Play Digital Media Conference is coming up at the end of this month and one of the panels is on the social impact of social networking and features an interesting panel:

Premal Shah – President –

Joe Green – President & CEO – Project Agape

Slava Rubin, Co-founder,

Angie Bush – Development Director – YouthNoise

Supplying Seeds To Farmers In Africa

Another development article on the problem with supplying high yield seeds to farmers in Africa:

“You have farmers who are very willing adopters of new technologies and want to raise yields,” he added, “but are not getting access to seed, fertilizer and small-scale irrigation.”

Finding a sustainable way to supply farmers with seed, he said, “is emerging as the holy grail for agricultural development.”

The Economics Of Malaria Nets

A very interesting development article on Africa. The big story here is that WHO abandoned social marketing as a distribution method to get the nets to people. They benched that method in favor of handing out the nets for free.

Two years ago, social marketing was at the heart of a scandal when it was revealed that the United States Agency for International Development, or USAid, which distributes foreign aid, was spending 95 percent of its malaria budget on consultants and 5 percent on goods like nets, drugs and insecticide. Under attack from several senators championing the fight against malaria, the agency later announced that it would spend at least half its budget on goods.

Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, called the new W.H.O. policy “a great move,” adding, “We knew social marketing doesn’t work.”

I think they made the right move instead of sticking with a system that wasn’t working. However, we shouldn’t give up on a longer term, sustainable solution!

MySpace Impact, a new way for non-profit organizations to expand online presence

This just came up on my blog reader:

This week News Corp.’s (NWS) MySpace announced MySpace Impact, a new way for non-profit organizations and political candidates to expand their online presence and accepting donations safely and easily. By using a donation badge powered by eBay’s PayPal, fundraisers can disseminate their cause and the fundraising effort. In fact, anyone can take a copy of the PayPal fundraising badge and put it onto their own profile. There are already a bunch of participating political candidates and non-profits. It’s great to see PayPal participating in new and different initiatives.


A Microfinance Story- Count me In For Women

Here’s an interesting story about entrepreneurship and microfinance which appeared in the NYTimes today. It’s an article about Nell Merlino, who founded Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence, an online microlender created to help finance companies owned by women. Here’s a good teaser from the article:

The theory behind her business was that these companies would thrive if they had the capital. Instead she found that when she made capital available, only the owners of tiny businesses applied. The applicants had plans not to become huge, but merely less tiny.

“They get to a certain point and they stall,” Ms. Merlino said.

Nobel Peace Prize Winner Yunnus Criticizes Compartamos Bank

Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunnus criticized Compartamos Bank for making a big profit from lending to the poor. PSD blog pulls the quote from this PBS show titled, “Who’s Making Money From Microcredit?“.

Poor people’s willingness to pay high interest is not a justification for charging it, he says. Compartamos is not microcredit, it’s “raking in money off poor people desperate for cash.”

It’s definitely a thin line and although the Yunnus quote doesn’t portray Compartamos in favorable light, I think it’s important to consider less extreme examples where it’s harder to see a distinct line between good and bad. At what interest rate would Yunnus not be upset? Some questions at the intersection where capitalism and socially responsible business meet.

On a related note (since you are all here), check out FINCA, the microfinance organization that Natalie Portman is involved with– their Village Banking Campaign is trying to create 100,000 village banks by the year 2010.