Entries in last mile (2)


Microsoft, social enterprise and last-mile innovation

Microsoft is providing seed capital for 12 social enterprises through its Affordable Access Initiative, a program that aims to leverage last-mile innovation in emerging markets.

According to initiative's director, Paul Garnett, the idea is to support low-cost, practical, high-impact, and scalable approaches by empowering local entrepreneurs with funding and access to peer resources. They're designed to increase connectivity for the 60% of humanity who are outside the digital loop. According to Garnett, local entrepreneurs not only understand local needs, they have the expertise to create new technologies and business models to meet market conditions.

Video source: Microsoft

-- Catalysts


Google and Tata approach the last mile

A common hurdle for businesses--or initiatives of any sort--seeking to reach the broad base of consumers at the middle of the economic diamond is reaching people who have been isolated due to location, mobility issues, cultural barriers, or a combination of factors. You can have an outstanding product or service, but if your intended audience can't access it, it will fail in the "last mile" of distribution.

Google and the Tata Trusts recently rolled out a new initiative to overcome the barriers to women in rural India accessing and utilizing the Internet. I enjoyed this description of the project, “Internet Saathi” (saathi meaning friend in Hindi) at Tech In Asia.

In this case the keys to the approach are a fleet of bicycles, a cadre of trainers from local NGOs, and free advice to individual clusters of rural villages provided for several days a week over a period of months. Internet Saathi hopes to reach 45,000 villages and 5,000,000 women in rural communities over the next 18 months, and we will be interested to watch it's progress. In the meantime, we'd love to know your ideas about ways to overcome the last mile barriers you are familiar with.

Image source: Tech In Asia

-- Clara Shen