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Serving Sri Lanka

This web log is a news and views blog. The primary aim is to provide an avenue for the expression and collection of ideas on sustainable, fair, and just, grassroot level development. Some of the topics that the blog will specifically address are: poverty reduction, rural development, educational issues, social empowerment, post-Tsunami relief and reconstruction, livelihood development, environmental conservation and bio-diversity. 

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Easy Seva to connect the unconnected in rural communities

Daily Mirror: 05/09/2007" By Christina Bjornstrom

QUALCOMM, Dialog Telekom, USAID and Synergy Strategies Group announced the launch of their Wireless Reach initiative in Sri Lanka through opening their first Easy Seva branch in Wennappuwa. 15 Easy Seva centres are scheduled to open in Sri Lanka’s most underserved rural communities.

Easy Seva centres will provide customers with wireless internet access, PC usage and Voip services such as Skype allowing communication to be made at less than one seventh the cost charged by IDD booths.

QUALCOMM India and SAARC President Kanwalinder Singh sees a huge opportunity in providing wireless access to the underserved highlighting, “[it] is an attempt by us to do our part to provide and show that rural projects have commercial viability.”USAID Sri Lanka Acting Mission Director says Easy Seva centers will be able to receive remittances and provide micro-credit financing in the near future: “this technology has been adapted and applied to benefit Sri Lanka by enhancing the socioeconomic capacity of the Sri Lankan people.”

Dialog Telekom General Manager Nushad Perera declares Easy Seva will decrease rural communities’ digital divide through offering affordable communication outlets. Easy Seva seeks to create a mini-economy through franchising their branches to selected entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs will be recruited within communities and villages Easy Seva plans to branch into. Instead of relying on mass media advertising to recruit franchisers and customers, Easy Seva will rely on the entrepreneur himself to create awareness by word of mouth.

Interested franchise recipients will have a proven entrepreneurial record as well as proof of community leadership. After passing a thorough credit and references check, successful applicants will finance and run their Easy Seva branch with a 3 year loan from the National Development Bank. Upon opening a branch, franchisers will receive an equipment package complete with PCs, phones and necessary IT training.

During the first 3 years, Easy Seva is expected to garner profits of $300 to $500 for each franchiser. After 3 years, Easy Seva will be fully owned by the franchiser awarding a profit potential of up to $20,000 a month.

Easy Seva is the first communication center of its kind to be launched in the South Asian market. With Microsoft providing and funding the IT training program for entrepreneurs, they will be readily equipped to bring technology and affordable communication to the rural communities of Sri Lanka.

Synergy Strategies Group Team Leader Shoban Rainford says that over the next 3 years, Easy Seva hopes to expand to 500 centres around the island as a “truly Sri Lankan operation.”

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