We're all in this business to make the world a better place. Several significant ingredients are currently converging to create a powerful impact on under-privileged people -- namely 5/6 of the world's population without regular Internet access. A similar proportion of people live in countries with per capita gross national product of less than $10,000.
- Accessibility: Experts expect another billion (1,000,000,000) Internet users to come online in the next ten years or so, primarily via public / private partnerships like http://www.laptop.org/
- Funding: Well-publicized micro-loan programs like http://www.grameen-info.org/ effectively provide seed money for budding entrepreneurs in regions of the world in dire need of fresh ideas.
- The Missing Ingredient: More innovative ways are needed to deliver appropriate guidance or training. Current models of delivering this kind of education probably won't work on a large scale. Trial and error may be the only way to figure out what will work in this dynamic new environment.
The answers lie far beyond the scope of scholarships. Harvard Business Review's December 2006 issue ("Strategy and Society") notes: If corporations were to analyze their prospects for social responsibility using the same frameworks that guide their core business choices, they would discover that corporate social responsibility can be much more than a cost, a constraint, or a charitable deed; it can be a source of opportunity, innovation, and competitive advantage. -- http://www.hbr.org/ Reprint R0612D.
Deep questions abound in this unchartered territory. For example, what consequences arise from a sense of entitlement these new Internet users are likely to feel? Stay tuned.
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