Inveneo Jill Costello Archives

ICT Brings Students and Communities Together in the DR Congo

  1. Posted by Jana Melpolder on June 19, 2014 in the categories: Education, News

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) is one of Africa’s most conflict-ridden and war-torn countries. Covering a vast expanse of over 900,000 square miles (the same as two-thirds of the European Union), the country holds a rich store of minerals. But, tragically, this abundance of resources fuels fire for hostile war. Civil war, genocide, and mass rape have all contributed to the brutality many have seen during the DR Congo’s history.

A happy computer user in the DR Congo.

A happy computer user in the DR Congo.

In addition, corruption is extremely common and, according to the United States Institute of Peace, the DR Congo ranks at the bottom for every corruption index. Although its people are incredibly resilient, the country continues to suffer from poor infrastructure and weak governmental organizations.

Inveneo’s Manager of Special Projects, Jill Costello, traveled last month to DR Congo knowing it would be a challenge. But she arrived with her sleeves rolled up and ready to get to work.

A class at KMU. The IT students currently don't have access to many computers making their IT studies difficult.

A class at KMU. The IT students currently don’t have access to many computers making their IT studies difficult.

Inveneo teamed up with United Methodist Communications (UMCom) and Steve Bryant from the General Board of Discipleship to begin building a power and financially sustainable Computer Center serving three institutions of higher learning in Kamina. Currently, Kamina Methodist University (KMU) is unable to offer students in its ICT program a functioning computer lab, a loss which results in the inability to do hands-on work to support their theoretical learnings. Once completed, however, the Computer Center will be used by KMU students, the Health Sciences College, the Teachers College, and local community members as a place to gather knowledge and build skills. It will serve 1,000 people!

On behalf of Inveneo, Jill travelled to Kamina to discuss the technical nature of the ICT project with academic and local community members. Along with UMCom and Steve Bryant, she hosted presentations and meetings for IT and general faculty at KMU and interested community members in order to listen to and truly understand their needs. The team also worked to identify an ideal location for the Center and to begin to determine suitable computing equipment for challenging environments such as these.

But there is still work to be done. In order for the Computer Center to come to fruition, the Kamina community must meet and expand upon the business plan in development. The Center will bring in funds to cover staff salaries, provide for additional computing purchases, and replace equipment when needed.

Inveneo's Jill Costello (left) meets with community members to discuss details on an United Methodist Communications project for DRCongo.

Inveneo’s Jill Costello (left) meets with community members to discuss details on an United Methodist Communications project for DRCongo.

The Inveneo team will continue to help guide and contribute to this building process. Inveneo is currently recommending what equipment is needed and appropriate for the new Center (both solar and computing equipment). In addition, it is researching French-based University-level IT content that will eventually be used offline by KMU. Relevant content should be available for use by late 2014. Communication and development on both sides of the Atlantic will continue to push the project forward.

Our team welcomed the opportunity to partner with UMCom, Steve Bryant, university-level and local community leaders in Kamina on this meaningful project in the DR Congo. We look forward to continue bringing online connections and educational resources to the many students and community members in Kamina!

Learn how you can partner with Inveneo in this project by visiting our Donate page.

Girls in ICT Day: Meet Inspirational Women from mission*social

  1. Posted by Jana Melpolder on April 24, 2014 in the categories: Events, News


It’s never too early to encourage a young girl to enter the growing ICT field. “Girls in ICT Day” was created to help young women appreciate and understand their potential – and to let them know how many diverse ICT career options are really available to them.

Young women have all the potential and talent to become great leaders, but they do so partly because of the women who forged ahead of them and helped paved the way.

Meet a few women who have worked in ICT for many years, some of them at mission*social – a unique shared workspace in San Francisco where our offices are located. These women have helped shape ICT to what it is today. Young girls celebrating Girls in ICT Day can look up to women like these to understand what it truly means to be a leader.


Heather Ramsey
Current: Senior Director of Center for Women’s Leadership Initiatives
Previous: Director of Women in Technology

As the Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships for the Institute of International Education, Heather Ramsey tirelessly leads the State Department initiative known as TechWomen in 16 countries. Techwomen brings emerging women leaders in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics from the Middle East and Africa together for both professional mentorship with their counterparts in the United States.

She also works to oversee Women’s Enterprise for Sustainability, Tunisia, a training and capacity building program for women-led organizations.

Previously she worked at Women in Technology where she helped provide cutting-edge training and coaching for women in business planning, professional development, information technology and entrepreneurship.


Kristin Peterson
Current: Co-Founder and CMO of Volo Broadband
Previous: Co-Founder, CEO of Inveneo

Within the ICT world Kristin Peterson is one of the leading entrepreneurs of her day. In 2004 she co-founded a non-profit ICT organization called Inveneo which has grown to deliver sustainable ICT and broadband projects that reach and impact over 3.2 million people around the world.

More recently she founded the company Volo, a “start-up connecting the next billion to the Internet”.  Although her new company is only eight months old, its online community has been steadily growing.

She has received multiple awards including the World Economic Forum’s 2013 Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the Schwab Foundation and the 2011 ITU World Telecommunications and Information Society Award. In addition, she was a CNN Principal Voice back in 2007.


Jill Costello
Current: Manager of Special Projects at Inveneo
Previous: Board Member at Maranyundo Initiative and Founder of Pannotia

As Inveneo’s Manager of Special Projects, Jill Costello puts her heart and soul into her ICT initiatives, including Internet Now!, a project that is establishing 100 ICT work centers in rural communities across northern Uganda.

Before coming to Inveneo, she built the Maranyundo School where she helped to establish a school for underserved girls in Nyamata, Rwanda. Classes offer these girls not only a high-quality education, but also a great way to get online and connect to the world. The school enrolls 60 students each year, and Maranyundo now ranks #1 among all middle schools in Rwanda.

To further her passion for ICT and social justice, she also founded Pannotia, a social enterprise that provided construction services and collaborative design for sustainable projects in Africa.


Sybille Fleischmann
Current: Senior Project Manager and Owner of POSSYBIL
Previous: Director of Education Solutions at Inveneo

Sybille Fleischmann is a proven self-starter. She founded her own company POSSYBIL, focusing on project management for communities in developing countries with a focus on digital inclusion and education projects. Her list of clients includes Imagine Education,  Microsoft, NetHope and See Your Impact.

Previously she worked at Inveneo both as the Director of Education Solutions and as the Country Director in Haiti. She planned and implemented the Haiti Connected Schools program which was created after the tragic earthquake hit in 2010 and provides 40 rural schools with solar-powered computer labs and computer training training for more than 400 teachers in rural Haiti. As County Director in Haiti she led the expansion of the The Haiti Rural Broadband Network to connect 20 rural communities in Haiti to the Internet, and built local capacity to expand and maintain the network.

Before shifting her focus completely to work in international development Sybille worked for 13 years at Microsoft in Germany and The United States. For several years she drove innovative technology projects as a project manager and product planner and later managed the solution development and deployment for large scale pilot programs at schools in Peru, Uruguay, Colombia and Rwanda.


These four women have made, and will continue to make, giant and positive impressions in the world of ICT projects. Collectively speaking, they have helped several million people gain access to sustainable computing technology and solutions worldwide.

Girls who are participating in Girls in ICT Day should try to find mentors and teachers who are like the women mentioned above. Young people, especially girls, are the future leaders of tomorrow, and the next step is for them to learn from the leaders of today.