Inveneo Wayan Vota Archives

Inveneo Wins Prestigious Award from ASME and Engineering for Change

  1. Posted by Jana Melpolder on October 20, 2017 in the categories: Events, News

On October 18, 2017 Inveneo had the honor of receiving the “Connecting the Unconnected” award from Engineering for Change and ASME (The American Society of Mechanical Engineers) at the recent Impact.Engineered event held in New York City. The IEEE – SA Global Affairs Program Director Moira Patterson presented Inveneo with the award, describing the incredible impact Inveneo has brought to many rural and previously unconnected communities around the world.

Co-Founder and Executive Director Robert Marsh received the award for Inveneo.

Co-Founder and current Executive Director Robert Marsh represented Inveneo and received the award for the team. As he was on stage he announced that, “when [I was] told about the event, I said I might not be there because I’ll be in Liberia connected the unconnected” which brought great laughter from the audience.

Inveneo proudly shares this category with two other winners who were World Possible and Google. The evening’s events also included the following awards and winners:

The award from ASME and Engineering for Change.

Hardware Trailblazer
The ASME/Engineering for Change’s ISHOW Global Winner

Women Leading in Technology and Impact
Elaine Weidman, Ericsson
Mitchell Baker, Mozilla Foundation
Linda Raftree, Independent Consultant; Convener, Tech Salon NYC and MERL Tech

Corporate Philanthropy Advancing the Sustainable Development Goals
Siemens Stiftung

Impact.Engineered Honorary Engineer
John Hockenberry, WNYC Radio

The Inveneo team would like to congratulate all the winners at the event and say a special thank you to the ASME and Engineering for Change teams for the award. It was an exceptional evening and several past Inveneo employees were also present, including Wayan Vota and Mariela Machado, who continue to make incredible contributions in the ICT world!

9 Lessons to Learn from Fail Faire UK 2012

  1. Posted by Inveneo on July 23, 2012 in the categories: Education, Events, News

We had an amazing sharing of failure at Fail Faire UK 2012, and amidst the laughter at how wrong we can be in deploying information and communication technologies to accelerate social and economic development, there were key lessons to learn. Lessons that cost millions of dollars, and unless we internalize them, will cost untold millions in future repetition.

So in the hopes that we can reduce future fails and increase success in ICT4D, I present to you the 9 lessons to learn from Fail Faire UK 2012:

  1. Failure will happen: When I am asked how to avoid failure I say that you should hire optimists. Why? Because failure will happen. It is the natural, normal, and valid result of pushing the boundaries of what is possible to scale from pilots to real impact. If you are not failing, you’re not trying hard enough, and you need optimists to recognize that failure is the mark of innovation and risk taking – key to growth and actual social and economic development that we all espouse to achieve.
  • Timing is everything: Martin Harris worked hard on his startup idea, then took a two week vacation. On the day he sought financing for his venture, his first day back from vacation, Lehman Brothers collapsed. His grand plans of a venture capital-based future disappeared faster than the elevator ride to his appointment. Note to self: when you have a good idea, move fast as you never know what tomorrow brings.
  • Know your target market habits: Harsha Liyanage thought farmers in Sri Lanka would be excited about trading via SMS. After two years of development and two years in deployment, he learned that farmers don’t trade via SMS. They want face-to-face interactions with local actors. The farmer’s wife or children do love modern technologies, and by leveraging their excitement for Facebook, Harsha was able to move from failure with farmers to success with social networking as a medium to connect farming families with new buyers.
  • People are proud of their heritage: Patrick Hall thought he could help Nepalese localize software into the local language to accelerate ICT adoption, but found multiple challenges – donors wanted to run their own programs, private software companies wanted to do their own localization, and Nepalese wanted either an exact translation (without agreement on what “exact” was) or just use English. I’ve found this same issue in Tanzania, where the Microsoft translation of Windows and Office into Kiswahili is disliked because its Kenyan-accented Kiswahili.
  • Take the money and run: Victor Lyons somehow bungled venture capital offerings of over $80 million when he founded an ecommerce startup, and after his business, marriage, and life went down in flames, found himself in India trying to used printed brochures to educate people who couldn’t read. Rather than giving up, he founded a literacy program, which received over a million dollars in funding – but none for salaries. His lesson learned multiple times is that money, in fact, does make the world go around, and we should not be too arrogant or too humble to accept it.
  • Plan for succession: Too often we invest inordinate amount of responsibility and success into a few key actors. Allan McNeil Jackson did in his company, Aptivate, and when his two key salespeople left, it almost destroyed the company. It took every member of the organization rethinking their role and joining in the sales process to revive relationships and the company’s future.
  • Be convinced of your convictions: Pamela McLean has spent the last 12 years trying to convince others of the worth and opportunity if development in Nigeria, often in a Quixotic effort to raise awareness that Nigeria does have promise and possibility. Yet she has not given up hope or slowed her pace of advocacy even though she was easily the most senior participant in Fail Faire UK 2012. For her energy alone, we should all be humbled.
  • The only constant is change: Tomi Davies single-handedly worked to bring One Laptop per Child to Nigeria. He was amazingly successful – President Obasanjo agreed to buy 1 million XO laptops from Nicholas Negroponte in 2007, jumpstarting the OLPC program. In fact, that deal is why the XO is green and white – the colors of the Nigerian flag. Unfortunately, Tomi then had to contend with 6 different Minsters of Education over the next 6 years, a revolving ministerial door that is not unique to Africa.
  • And??? The eight speakers at Fail Faire UK 2012 do not have a monopoly on failure. What other lessons are there to learned from failure? What have you learned? Don’t be shy – share them in the comments. We’ve bared our souls and its time for you to do the same.

Fail Faire UK 2012 was generously hosed by the GSMA Development Fund and organized by Inveneo. If you’d like to attend the next FailFaire, be sure to sign up for announcements of future events. We have fails on tap for East Africa and Washington DC in 2012 – failure has gone global!

Join Inveneo at eLearning Africa 2012

  1. Posted by Inveneo on May 2, 2012 in the categories: Education, Events, News

eLearning Africa is the Continent’s largest annual gathering of high-level policy makers, decision makers and practitioners from education, business and government. eLearning Africa 2012 is taking place from 23rd to 25th May in Cotonou, Benin.

Inveneo is proud to be attending eLearning Africa 2012. Wayan Vota, Senior Director, will be participating in three key sessions: He will be speaking at the pre-conference Ministerial Round Table on the opportunities to use technology to increase the financial sustainability of educational systems. He will be co-leading the eLearning Africa Fail Faire with Leonard Mware, Director ICWE Africa. Fail Faire is dedicated to the embrace and appraisal of failed eLearning experiences. We look forward to robust sharing of different viewpoints on how we understand failure and the lessons that can be drawn from them.

Wayan will also be a discussant at the eLearning Africa Debate. Each year, the eLearning Africa debate addresses important and sometimes controversial issues affecting the region. This year, the debate looks at the long-term effects of mobile technologies on educational systems in Africa and what impact this might have on the traditional classroom and the role of teacher. The motion will be as follows:

’This House believes that we have underestimated the disruption mobile technologies will cause to formal educational systems in Africa and is concerned that their increased use undermines the traditional classroom setting, making teachers redundant.’

Wayan will be on the side promoting teachers as still relevant, if not even more relevant in a quickly changing educational landscape. Be sure to join him in the debate – it is a highlight of eLearning Africa and this year’s discussion will be as lively as ever.

Inveneo Deploys 5 Pilot Schools for Tanzania 21st Century Basic Education Program

  1. Posted by Inveneo on December 14, 2011 in the categories: Education, News, Projects

In January 2011, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) entered into a cooperative agreement with Creative Associates International to implement the Tanzania 21st Century Basic Education Program (TZ21).

The TZ21 initiative aims to improve the quality of lower primary education with a particular focus on improved instruction in reading, mathematics and science for higher learning achievement. This includes providing hardware and e-content as part of ICT enhancement measures to all 846 primary schools in Mtwara and on two islands of Zanzibar, and intensive training of teachers on how to effectively use the new technology in the classroom.

Inveneo is proud to be an implementing partner with Creative Associates in Tz21 where our role is to lead the technology intervention design and deployment with Kicheko Ltd, our Inveneo Certified ICT Partner (ICIP) in Tanzania. Together, Inveneo and Kicheko have been instrumental in introducing sustainable technology solutions that are relevant to rural Tanzanian schools that often lack electrical power and ICT skilled staff.

Pilot School Deployment

Recently we passed a major milestone in the program – the deployment of information and communication technologies to 5 pilot schools.

Dr. H.E. Kavishe of Kicheko, Wayan Vota and Jen Overgaag of Inveneo, assisted by a cadre of Kicheko technicians, installed a mix of laptops, desktops, LED projectors and related networking and power equipment at Naliendele, Kambarage, Darajani, and Kisiwandui Primary Schools, and Machakaeni Teacher Center.

The pilot deployment is testing technology configurations and the installation was used to train local engineers on Inveneo installation methodologies in preparation for the major ICT deployment to all schools, scheduled for early 2012.

You can see more photos of the installation in our Flickr feed.

Digital Divide or Digital Bridge: Can Information Technology Alleviate Poverty?

  1. Posted by Inveneo on April 5, 2011 in the categories: Economic Development, Events, News

The past decade has seen great interest in information and communication technologies applied to international development, an endeavor sometimes abbreviated ICTD. Can mobile phones be used to improve rural healthcare? How do you design user interfaces for an illiterate migrant worker? What value is wireless technology to a farmer earning a dollar a day?

In this panel, four prominent thinkers active in ICTD debate the potential for electronic technologies to contribute to the socio-economic development of the world’s impoverished communities.

  1. Eric Brewer is a UC Berkeley professor who develops wireless technologies to connect rural communities.
  2. Megan Smith is vice president of new business development at Google and managing director of
  3. Kentaro Toyama is co-founder of Microsoft Research India, and a computer scientist turned technology skeptic.
  4. Wayan Vota is a senior director at Inveneo, a non-profit that works to provide information technology to underserved communities of the developing world.

Digital Divide or Digital Bridge: Can Information Technology Alleviate Poverty?
Wednesday, April 6, 2011, 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
School of Information
University of California, Berkeley
102 South Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-4600