Private-Sector Initiative Tackles Digital Divide
New G8-Sponsored Entity Taps Technology and Entrepreneurship to Help Transform Developing Economies
KANANASKIS, Canada; June 28, 2002 – A team of private-sector companies brought together by the G8’s Digital Opportunity Task Force today announced the creation of the DOT Force Entrepreneurial Network (DFEN), an organization to help small- and medium-sized enterprises (“SMEs”) and entrepreneurs overcome the “Digital Divide” and stimulate economic and social growth in developing countries.
DFEN will provide financing of up to CDN$2 million to SMEs and entrepreneurs planning to use information and communication technology (ICT) in innovative and creative ways in the developing world. It will also help by sharing best practices, opening access to global markets, and providing technical and training support. In addition, the organization will advise SMEs and entrepreneurs on how to shape public policy support for ICT in their own countries. The initial focus of its activities will be Africa.
The DFEN initiative brings together powerful expertise and global reach. The founding participants are Accenture, the global management consulting and technology services organization; Hewlett-Packard, the information technology provider; Telesystem, the Canadian-based private equity company; and Open Economies, the policy center run in association with Harvard Law School.
Vernon Ellis, Accenture’s international chairman, said,“By bringing together the energy and drive of local entrepreneurs and the power of information and communication technology, this effort can help generate significant social and economic change.”
"We believe that all people should have access to the social and economic opportunities of the digital age," said Debra Dunn, senior vice president, Hewlett-Packard. "This new organization will help provide that access through the use of ICT tools and other resources."
Charles Sirois, chairman and CEO of Telesystem, emphasized, “The key of the DOT Force Entrepreneurial Network initiative is to help entrepreneurs who can bring the multiple benefits of ICT in local economies by fostering public and private partnerships, innovation and lifelong learning.”
The organization is being launched with support from G8 member countries, with initial funding of CDN$10 million provided by the Government of Canada. DFEN will seek additional financial support from both the public and the private sectors to implement its business plan, which can be accessed at www.dotforce.org/teams/team4.html.
Mr. Ellis, Mr. Sirois and an HP representative will be initial members of the organization’s board of directors.
Accenture is the world’s leading management consulting and technology services organization. Through its network of businesses approach – in which the company enhances its consulting and outsourcing expertise through alliances, affiliated companies and other capabilities – Accenture delivers innovations that help clients across all industries quickly realize their visions. With more than 75,000 people in 47 countries, the company generated net revenues of US $11.44 billion for the fiscal year ended August 31, 2001. Its home page is www.accenture.com.
HP is a leading global provider of products, technologies, solutions and services to consumers and businesses. The company’s offerings span IT infrastructure, personal computing and access devices, global services and imaging and printing. HP completed its merger transaction involving Compaq Computer Corp. on May 3, 2002. The company would have had combined revenue on a pro forma basis with the Compaq transaction of approximately US $81.1 billion in fiscal 2001 and has operations in more than 160 countries. More information about HP is available at www.hp.com.
Telesystem Ltd. (www.telesystem.ca) is an entrepreneurial private equity company. Through direct investments and focused venture funds, Telesystem brings together wireless communications infrastructure companies and an increasing number of enterprises active mainly in mobile Internet services and Web business solutions.
About Open Economies
Open Economies is a project of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard Law School. The mission of Open Economies is to support developing nations as they embrace digital technology and digitally-enabled entrepreneurship as a means to economic and social development. Open Economies focuses on understanding and working with others to create policy, legal, regulatory, and fiscal conditions that encourage digital entrepreneurship and development. Open Economies’ guiding conviction is that digital entrepreneurship is vital to accelerating economic growth and alleviating poverty, as well as to promoting democracy and social inclusion. More information on Open Economies is available at www.openeconomies.org.