There are numerous wonderful projects out there to bring internet access to parts of the world that currently do not have it. So why should we start another? What can we bring to the table?
I don\’t know everything that is happening, but from what I have found, there are gaps. This is not a criticism in any way, just an observation that there is a place for our project. The gaps concern finances, timing, entrepreneurship, and contributors.
Google has floated the idea of launching over a hundred satellites to provide worldwide internet access – specifically for the developing world. Facebook is talking about a similar project using solar powered drone aircraft. The gaps left here are financial and time-related. Very few of us can contribute in any financially significant way to the launch of even one satellite or the building on one drone. Lots of us are not able to contribute more than our time and talents, but seek opportunities to contribute just that if we can see the difference we make personally.
The timing for these ambitious projects is measured in years or decades. We can cheer them on from the sidelines, but while we wait we might ask if there is something we can do right now.
By entrepreneurship, I mean that charity’s limits can sometimes be extended by looking for opportunities for profit, rather than seeing profit as an evil. Not all projects have this outlook, but some do. I think it comes down to benefit before profit, with people first and foremost. I think there are opportunities for entrepreneurs in places where very modest investments can lead to world-class businesses, because rich nations do not have a monopoly on talent, creativity or drive.
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” sums up better than I can. The saying could go farther though – how about “…Learn from the man’s lifetime of fishing and you feed yourself”?
The last gap I see is the opportunity to accept from those who would like to contribute, but have no means of doing so. Yes, we like to see people and organizations donate money and resources, we like to see opportunities given to deserving young people, and we like to see communities given access to the knowledge on the internet. Sometimes we forget that those communities can contribute back to us if we are willing to listen to and accept their gifts.
So, here are things we can do together to fill some gaps and make a great impact. We can make small investments in USB hard-drives while others build more expensive internet connections. We can start right now, we do not have to wait.
We can produce and collect content, we can teach what we know, we can distribute hard-drives where they will make the most impact. We can provide economic opportunities for ourselves and others.
Most importantly we can learn from others by allowing them to speak. We can use hard-drives to send information, but also to exchange information by keeping them circulating and seeing what comes back from students, teachers, churches and communities that add content to them.
CanJamEx can fill those gaps, in Canada and Jamaica and soon around the world, with your participation.