The Technology Tent

The Technology Tent

Tanzania
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Budget: 
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Powering Potential intends to replicate a model we successfully piloted to install solar-powered computer labs with technology training at secondary schools in Tanzania. We provide concentrated technology education on computers and digital cameras engaging girls and boys and teachers at secondary schools in Tanzania, while respecting and incorporating values of the local culture.

About You
Organization:
Powering Potential
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Section 1: About You
First Name

Janice

Last Name

Lathen

Country

, NY

Section 2: About Your Organization
Is your initiative connected to an established organization?

Yes

Organization Name

Powering Potential

Organization Phone

212-595-3549

Organization Address

PO Box 230913, New York, NY 10023

Organization Country

, NY

How long has this organization been operating?

1‐5 years

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Your idea
Country your work focuses on

, AR

Innovation
What makes your idea unique?

Our idea is unique because we use green solar power, we install computers and we give the girls and boys and teachers technology training. All of the those elements are unique to schools in Tanzania especially rural Tanzania.

Prior to the founding director's first trip to Tanzania, she worked with a tutor to learn Swahili, which enabled her to develop lasting relationships with the Banjika school community through this demonstration of respect for their culture. This inspired a deep sense of appreciation for the technology teachings that Janice brings to the school. Many of the teachers and students had never seen a computer before Janice donated the first laptop in 2007. This introduction to technology blew open the doors to students’ and teachers’ imaginations and new “life” possibilities began to emerge. The school now has a network of six desktops, one server and a printer all powered by a solar energy system provided by Powering Potential. It is highly unusual for a public school in Tanzania to have a computer lab, especially in a rural area. The Technology Tent is a rare opportunity for the school community to receive quality technology education from experienced professionals. We intend to replicate this successful model in other secondary schools in Tanzania.

Do you have a patent for this idea?

Impact
Tell us about the social impact of your innovation. Please include both numbers and stories as evidence of this impact

• 600+ students and teachers had their first exposure to a computer
• 200+ students received hands-on classroom instruction
• 138 students completed a concentrated training course acquiring extensive hands-on experience and fundamental technology knowledge
• 2 teachers are pursuing college degrees in technology: a B.S. in Computer Science and a Bachelor of Engineering in Information Systems and Network Engineering
Here is what one Tanzanian teacher had to say about our results:
It is the truth which can not be hidden that, Technology Tent has been like a light to the Kids at Banjika. It makes the kids feel that, they are able to face the challeges which are being brought by science and technology. Before Janice came to our school, no one knew any thing about the Computer. They did not know even how it looked like. It is amazing that, now the kids are able to type some thing in the Computer and print with their own hands. These are great Changes.

Problem: Describe the primary problem(s) that your innovation is addressing

The primary problem is students in Tanzania do not have access to modern tools and current information. The installation of solar-powered computer labs with training gives them these modern tools and the knowledge to use them. Another problem is employment and college readiness. Computer skills will increase the chance that a secondary school graduate will be able to get a job, and if a student is fortunate enough to pass the national exam and go on to college, computer skills will be a great advantage.

Actions: Describe the steps that you are taking to make your innovation a success. What might prevent that success?

We have successfully completed our pilot program at one school and intend to work with the same vendors to ensure the successful replication at two other schools in Tanzania. Another step to ensure success is: the local communities make a contribution; they provide a secure room with tables and chairs for the solar equipment and computer lab. What might prevent that success? If the local community has not completed their contribution that could impede the success.

Results: Describe the expected results of these actions over the next three years. Please address each year separately, if possible

2010: replicate The Technology Tent at two more schools in Tanzania, impacting an additional 1,000 students and teachers; continue supporting technology education for 324 students; implement program to provide satellite Internet access for 575 students and teachers at one school; expand the solar energy system and computer network at one school

2011: The teachers and students who are training during The Technology Tent will teach other training sessions. We also intend to initiate a program to develop a technology workforce in Tanzania and the students who go through this training program will be our first candidates for getting more intensive technology training.

2012: As the technology workforce grows, we expect to use these students to install computer labs at schools and they will conduct the training sessions.

How many people will your project serve annually?

101‐1000

What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

Less than $50

Does your innovation seek to have an impact on public policy?

No

If your innovation seeks to impact public policy, how?

Approximately 150 words left (1200 characters).

Sustainability
What stage is your project in?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Does your organization have a board of directors or an advisory board?

Yes

Does your organization have a non monetary partnerships with NGOs?

Yes

Does your organization have a non monetary partnerships with businesses?

No

Does your organization have a non monetary partnerships with government?

No

Please tell us more about how partnerships could be critical to the success of your innovation

Powering Potential has highly-qualified volunteers working to ensure it's success. The founding executive director attends conferences/meetings on development work in Africa and is developing partnerships with NGOs to bring solar-powered computer labs to school in Africa.

We would like to learn more about how your initiative is financially supported. Please explain your business plan/revenue model

We are supported by a family foundation and contributions from family, friends, and new people we meet. We have a donor base of 160 people from 19 states. Our business plan/revenue model is fully explained in our current Action Plan for Powering Potential with includes a fiscal plan going forward, a budget for each program, and a historical statement of operations. We are using this Action Plan to seek funding from various sources through personal connections.

The Story
What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

The ecstatic response I received from a classroom of students when I introduced myself in Swahili during a safari visit to a school in rural Tanzania.

Tell us about the person—the social innovator—behind this idea.

Since 1987 Janice Lathen has had a computer consulting business in New York City specializing in training. Into a family of pioneers, Janice was born in Winner, South Dakota, raised in Minnesota, and moved to Manhattan with college degree in hand and a passionate desire to be a classical stage actress. She acted for Woody Allen, Robert Downey and Zoe Caldwell, and along the way modeled for Halston, Christian Dior, and Karl Lagerfeld.

Fulfilling a childhood dream to visit Africa and see animals living freely, especially to watch giraffes running across the Serengeti, Janice safaried to Tanzania in February of 2006. The animals drew Janice to Tanzania and the people draw her back. Their extraordinary warmth and gentleness, uplifting spirit, and deep sense of appreciation inspire her to action.

In high school Janice was very active in Junior Achievement, attending regional and national conferences, and represented her local chapter in the national Miss Junior Achievement contest. Janice was treasurer of the Minnesota state chapter of the National Honor Society and in that capacity represented Minnesota at a National Leadership Conference as a camper and a camp counselor.

As an adult Janice learned how to ride a horse and went on to earn nine blue ribbons at local horse shows. She also sailed with the Manhattan Yacht Club often crewing for sailboat races in the NY harbor and she has taken lessons in flying airplanes.

How did you first hear about Changemakers?

Friend or family member

If through another source, please provide the information
ICRW
Does your project address any of the following barriers to women’s technology access and use?

Social norms, Economic or institutional constraints, Women’s lack of involvement in the technology development process.

If you checked any of the boxes above, please explain how.

Our pilot program was completed at a co-ed secondary school. It was a woman who brought computers to the school and consequently the girls at the school are intrigued by this example of a woman in technology. It inspires them to learn about technology and shatters the myth that technology is for males. When a student graduates from secondary school their computer skills will enhance their ability to get a job. If they go on to college the ability to use a computer will enhance their education.

Does your project involve women in one or more of the following stages of the technology lifecycle? Identification of the problem the technology will solve:

Technology design, Technology introduction, Technology training, Technology supply and distribution, Assessment and evaluation.

If you checked any of the boxes above, please explain how you will ensure women’s involvement in each relevant phase of the technology lifecycle.

The founding executive director of Powering Potential is a woman and she is involved in all aspects of this project....she takes a very hands-on approach.

If women are a focus of your project, how did this focus evolve?

The project focused on women from its conception..

Which type of women will your project reach directly?

Rural, Low income.

In what ways does your project team/leadership involve women?

It is led by a woman/women., The core project team includes women..

Has your organization formed any new partnerships in response to this challenge? If so, with what type/s of organization/s?

Has your project leadership had prior experience with the following?

Working with women, Working with technologies, Working to increase women's economic empowerment through technology, Working on innovation.