2.6.2 Innovations in IT Do Not Eliminate the Need for on the Ground Infrastructure

Both examples on illustrating the power of technology also provide insights into the other infrastructure and on the ground operations needed to support interventions, particularly in physically reaching the impact group. Both Ideame and DDD invest in staff and offices in the countries where they operate, ensuring local capacity empowered with the training and support needed so that their target groups can take advantage of the opportunities that IT connectivity offers.

Preparing Youth for YED via Impact Sourcing: Digital Divide Data

Digital Divide Data (DDD) is a social enterprise providing Digitization and other IT and Business Processing Outsourcing (BPO) services to a corporate and institutional clientele.  DDD seeks to employ and empower a workforce of rural or poor youth and the disabled, otherwise at risk of being left behind in the digital divide. When the firm first started in 2000, DDD chose to operate in developing countries where the BPO industry is still nascent, including Cambodia, Laos and is now expanding into Kenya and Peru. This allowed DDD to magnify its potential for social impact.

Early in the founding of DDD, its leadership recognized that IT training and employment may not be sufficient to enable its employees to obtain a better standard of living in the long term.  DDD then committed to its workforce the opportunity to pursue a four-year college or vocational degree in tandem with employment.  This investment in employee education improves employee retention and central to mission of DDD sets in motion a pathway for their employees to leave the firm with far greater prospects for the future than other employment might offer. 

To date 1,500 employees have participated in work-study with more than 600 having earned college degrees.  An independent evaluation of DDD’s workforce compared to national census data found that students who complete DDD’s program in Asia earn far more than secondary school graduates in their country and on average more than college graduates.

Today, as DDD works to further scale its efforts, the firm offers three lessons to other IT social enterprises:

1. Define your earned income model

  • DDD earned $5 m USD in net income for the 2013 financial year

2. Align your offerings to meet client needs

  • DDD’s social mission is only achieved when it has paying clients to fund its operations

3. Stay ahead of the competition

  • Technology made the world flat, so DDD needs to continue to update its offering

To learn more about DDD, please click here to watch a short video: http://youtu.be/uKvLNvukd0E