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Showing posts from November, 2012

SocialCoding4Good Going International with Random Hacks of Kindness

It’s a terrific experience to spend a weekend hacking for social good. Knowing that you’re working with literally thousands of others worldwide makes it simply awe-inspiring.

That’s why we love Random Hacks of Kindness Global: 2 days + 30 countries + 3000 geeks working on making the world a better, safer place. Its mission is strongly aligned with our own at our SocialCoding4Good project: build awareness of technology serving humanity, engage technical volunteers to contribute their time and talents to design and develop it, and foster cross-sector collaboration to amplify its impact.

At RHoK Global in June 2012, we joined the RHoK Sustainability Project and invited participants to build solutions addressing challenges in accessibility or human rights, two core program areas at Benetech. One solution would be selected to receive technical development leadership and guidance toward application and organizational sustainability. We were deeply impressed by the creativity of the teams a…

Getting Close to a Treaty!

The latest session of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) just concluded last week. The session was pretty successful, in that the Committee called for an extraordinary general assembly meeting in December with the aim of calling a diplomatic conference to finalize the Treaty for the Visually Impaired in June 2013. There is a draft of the treaty that was finished on Friday, November 23, and many issues have been settled over the last year or two of negotiations.  The rest of this post looks at this draft treaty in its current form.
Expert Advisors Review the Treaty for the WBU
I’ve been here in Geneva the last few days, meeting with the World Blind Union immediately after the SCCR session. The WBU convened a small meeting of experts to take a close look at the treaty draft from an operational and technical standpoint. They wanted a fresh perspective on the treaty text from the point of view of the …

Southeast Asia, Social Enterprise Accidental Tour!

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I just spent almost three weeks in Thailand and Laos on a combined work and vacation trip. Roughly once a year when I travel overseas, my wife Virginia puts up her hand and says “that’s the one!” So, we stretched out my visits to Bangkok, Vientiane and Chiang Mai to include some sight-seeing and, of course, shopping for Christmas presents in predominately Buddhist countries.

One of my business visits was to a long-standing social enterprise partner of ours, Digital Divide Data in Vientiane, Laos. I wrote about that visit in my last blog post: Digital Divide Data: our Partner in Laos. As I said to the DDD team, we love to make our money work twice as hard by choosing social enterprises as vendors. Not only do we get outstanding quality and value for our money, we also know that money is supporting a social objective by helping disadvantaged people build assets financially and experientially. We call it using the social enterprise supply chain. An unexpected bonus of this trip w…

Digital Divide Data: our Partner in Laos

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Benetech is a tech social enterprise.  While our activities often creates jobs beyond the core high technology jobs around software development and user support, we don't see it as our core competency.  When we do something that creates entry level jobs in quantity, we reach out to social enterprise partners who specialize in job creation and training.  We call this our social enterprise supply chain. We really love this approach, which we think of making our money work twice.  Our social enterprise partners not only deliver a high quality product or service at a fair price, they also are using the revenues to train disadvantaged people who otherwise wouldn't have these opportunities.
For example, our Bookshare online library for the blind, uses several different social enterprises to do data entry and proofreading work on textbooks.  Our first partner in this work was Digital Divide Data, an organization that has an outstanding training program in the area of data entry and …