Thursday, March 21, 2013

Tunapanda Update From Jay Larson

This is really important.  Take a second, read the whole thing, and consider contributing.


Dear Friends & Family,  Since launching our Indiegogo campaign on Monday at 8pm Nairobi time (noon EST), Tunapanda has received an enormous amount of support and encouragement. We are very grateful, and are about to break $2000 in donations. If you haven't seen our video yet, check it out:

However, we will have to wait to manifest the impact of your donations until... tomorrow morning. Yes, we know, that's a long time to wait. We can hardly stand it. Time has slowed down, and it feels like the night before Christmas. Just kidding, we're pumped at the awesomeness and speed of technology and the internet. Tomorrow morning we're headed a few hundred kilometers from Nairobi to rural Elburgon, to spend all the donations we'll have received by then and deliver all sorts of stuff to our partner school, TIIT, including new computers, courses and open source software - we haven't actually been given the donations by Indiegogo yet, but our Kenyan self-taught-computer-entrepreneur friend in Nakuru, Solomon Gachugu, is a fan of Tunapanda's work and has offered us a 0%-interest loan until the funds arrive, as well as discounted prices, free setup and installation assistance - and an extra bonus if this 16-hour push is successful (link to more info below). Thanks Solomon!(more after the jump...)

Executive summary for the super-busy: if our Indiegogo campaign hits $3300 by 9am tomorrow Kenya time (1am EST), Solomon will give us some free equipment and provide free LAN installation and labor from his company, Datacomm Systems & Solutions (Kenya). We'll deliver the full $3300 of equipment tomorrow, including 12 new workstations, set it all up, and post pictures on our blog. You can donate from the Indiegogo link above.

If we receive $4000 (or more), we'll put a $3300 toward equipment and a $700 deposit on the new dorm we're building, so they can restart construction immediately - it has been stalled for over 5 years. The dorm will house scholarship students from around the country and region, focusing largely on teenagers whose families can't afford to send them to traditional high school, who will live at TIIT while they undertake intensive training with the purpose of being able to spread our system all over Kenya without our help, keep learning skills on their own, and/or seek other employment using skills they've learned.

To keep this email shorter, I wrote up a summary of our project, exact details of what we're taking to the school tomorrow, and some future spending and action plans.

So, please donate now! Your donation will start spreading education and impacting kids in rural Kenya tomorrow. Also keep in touch via our Facebook page, Twitter feed, or follow our blog on Tunapanda's website to see what we get up to. We'll probably be offline for most of the time in Elburgon (Friday & Saturday)... such is the nature of working on the other side of the "digital divide."

And, of course, please forward this email on. We'd like to include a lot of people whose emails we don't have (including many of our DCDS friends), so if you get this as a forward and want to get future emails directly from me, let us know and we'll add you.

Thanks again to everyone who already donated.

Warmest regards,
Jay and Mick Larson

P.S. We have our first virtual volunteer, Jake, our new webmaster extraordinaire in London whose spent a lot of time in Kenya and will be here this summer. Though we've never met him, Jake has already saved us from major headaches and given us great advice.

P.P.S. It's sadly true that the equipment listed here could probably be procured more cheaply in the US - but we've done research and believe these are the best prices you can get out here (probably due to 25% import taxes and shipping costs). One perverse fact about developing countries is that used computer equipment costs more in nominal terms to buy here than it would for me to buy on Ebay. So it costs people WAY more in "real" terms - i.e. relative to wages and costs of food/labor/etc, which is frustrating and probably explains why only 1-2% of Kenyans have access to computers. In the future we will accept tax-deductible donations of all your old hardware, and work with safari and travel groups to arrange it's arrival in Africa with minimal shipping costs. If you have old laptops, tablets, phones, etc that aren't being used, send an email with your location to and we'll find a way to get it in good hands.


Jay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jay said...

Thank you Michael!

Here's the link for the spending details if anyone is interested:

Your audience might be exactly the kind of people to guide us in a certain element of our project. We're hoping to play around with incentive structures in a number of elements of our system, from motivating the management (that's me & Mick for now - many NGO's use "how much money spent" as their metric for success, so the more you spend the better you're doing, and we don't think that model will work well with our system) to encouraging student participation and attendance and even forum activity.

So we set up an "incentive structure forum" where people can put in ideas and have us try them out in real life. We've put a really cool example that Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok discussed in their Marginal Revolution University inaugural course. Here's that forum:

Thanks everyone!
-Jay Larson
(KPC reader for over 5 years)

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Steven H. Newton said...

They made the $4,000 target on time (I know because I kicked in the last $55 to get them to $4,001 about an hour before the deadline.) By today they are heading toward $6,000, and a worthier cause I have not seen recently ....

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