Saturday, 25 September 2010

How can we scale up Pilot projects to Sustainable projects?

Never ending pilots? Are you trapped in the common syndrome?

The following 5 steps have worked! This may be a worthwhile insight for you, too.

1. Start - as a donor funded pilot project
     Donor funded projects are valuable seed investments. Use them effectively, with passion and dedication. But seek sustainability (beyond the project cycle) from day one. eg. A telecentre project funded by Microsoft-Unlimited Potential, to set up 12 telecentres in rural Sri Lanka, and train 257 students providing scholarships (2004 - 2007)
2. Extract - the scalable project elements
     Towards the mid-project cycle, observe the successful elements of the project. What element of the project attracts the best attention of the target community? eg. A feasibility study reveals high response from the community for ICT education. That has been extracted for the redesign (2006 - 2007).
3. Redesign them as marketable products and services
    Extract the successful elements out of the project context and redesign them as a seperate product or service. Make them less dependant on the overall project. Repackage them to stand alone. eg. ICT training modules have been redesigned, content improved, national ICT education standards have been adopted  (2007 - 2008)
4. Prototype marketing
    Introduce the product into a pilot market (eg a small segment of the same community) as a fee based service (not free). Educate them as to why charging a fee is required. (They listen). Inform them about your philosophy of social enterprising. (They appreciate it). eg. Pilot marketing of the prototype product as ICT Education services (2008 - 2009).
5. Re-brand and  launch the product on a national scale
    Brand the product as an attractive, value-added product, that may convince the target community (the very same community) to recognise it as a unique product that serves their needs, and worth paying a small fee to buy. eg. The product has been re-branded and launched as Fusion-Education (2010).

Read about the initial project here, and the latest social enterprise here.

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We are consultants for European organisations working in international development. Specialized in Innovation - Economic Sustainability - Social Impact Assessment in ICT4D and Mobile for Development (M4D) sectors. We have 20 + years of experiences and our clients include UN Agencies, EU, IDRC.

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Are you involved in International development, introducing Information Communication Technologies and Mobile Phone applications to support disadvantage communities? Are you concerned about effective products and services in this sector, we can help to innovate them. Do you want to see their sustainability beyond funding cycle? We can help converting the project into a social enterprise. Do you want to understand the social impact? We can design a tailor made model to surface the social impact.