Addressing the World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) 2008, Intel Corporation Chairman Craig Barrett announced that Intel Capital and Grameen Trust will form a business venture dedicated to social and economic development. Also during his opening-day keynote, Barrett announced collaboration with NetHope and demonstrated a new Aid Station device designed to support non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in their health care, disaster relief and economic growth efforts.
The joint venture aims to bring about self-sustaining solutions based on information and communications technology (ICT) to help empower the world's impoverished citizens. The initiative, which will be launched in Bangladesh, is based on the "social business" model created by Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Muhammad Yunus, who founded Grameen Bank in 1976 to promote microfinancing and community development.
"Technology offers the means for scaling up our efforts toward global change and progress," said Barrett, who also chairs the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development (UN GAID). "By creating new business models based on ICT, as Intel is doing today with Grameen, we can bring people the tools they need to improve their future."
"I am very happy to collaborate with Intel in this new direction and create opportunities for poor people to rise above social and economic barriers," said Yunus, author of the best-selling book, "Creating a World Without Poverty." "I believe technology-based services will provide the ‘hand up' that people need to discover their full potential. Once we show that this business model works in Bangladesh, we hope the successes we achieve there can be applied to the rest of the developing world."
The Grameen-Intel joint venture combines Intel's technology innovation and Grameen's extensive experience in creating economic development and income-generation opportunities at the village level. The new company will use a private sector-based approach to address social and economic problems such as poverty, health care and education in developing countries.
Intel and Grameen foresee a number of ICT-based services and entrepreneurship opportunities growing out of such a business model. Examples include remote villagers receiving medical attention through Internet connectivity, rural communities being able to order medicine locally instead of having to walk 10 miles to a hospital, and families being notified of monies received from relatives abroad.
New Collaborations with NGOs
Barrett, in chairing a meeting of the Steering Committee and Strategy Council for UN GAID in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, stressed that public-private collaborations are pivotal in achieving the world's goals for developing countries in the coming decade. He cited the global reach and resources of NGOs as a key way to make inroads on social and economic problems.
Intel has teamed up with NetHope, a new-generation collaborative consortium made up of chief information officers, senior program managers and technical experts from 22 of the largest international NGOs, to develop ICT solutions in support of the member NGOs' health care, economic development, and disaster relief programs. The ICT solutions deployed will include the Intel-powered Aid Station PC demonstrated for the first time during today's keynote. The Aid Station is a rugged, purpose-built, low-cost technology platform suitable for use in harsh, remote locations.
"Our members all face similar challenges in developing and delivering ICT solutions that will work in the toughest environments around the world," said Bill Brindley CEO of NetHope. "The Aid Station PC offers the potential to deliver huge benefits to the people in the developing world, including frontline aid workers. We're pleased to be collaborating with Intel on the design and the development of solutions that can stand up to the often extreme conditions our members face."
Intel also signed an agreement with Racing the Planet, an organizer of sports events in extreme conditions, to test the Aid Station device during athletic contests in some of the driest, hottest, coldest and windiest locations on Earth.
Earlier in his Southeast Asia trip, Barrett visited Indonesia and Penang, Malaysia, for a firsthand look at how digital inclusion programs are taking root and creating life-changing opportunities. Barrett is visiting the region in his role as chairman of UN GAID and to experience up close the progress made by the Intel World Ahead Program, Intel's global initiatives to improve education, health care, entrepreneurship and government services by accelerating access to computers, connectivity and localized Internet content.