Friday, April 19, 2013

Tunapanda: Final Push!

My friend Jay Larson and his brother are entering the final push in a crowdfunding campaign to move forward with their non-profit educational organization, Tunapanda, whose goal is to "bridge digital divides" beginning in East Africa while simultaneously creating an easily replicable free system that can be copied anywhere.

 Tunapanda's latest "perk" on Indiegogo is a DVD-friendly version of Marginal Revolution University's inaugural free course on Developmental Economics (no math required). With permission from the course creators, Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok, they've pulled the video content of the course offline and are adding the quiz questions in a way that can be watched on video in order to mimic the online experience as best as possible.

As they discuss in their Indiegogo video, DVD player penetration is much higher than computer penetration in many parts of the world and bandwidth is expensive - just downloading the video content for the average "free" online course costs more than many families make in a week. The perks are two-fold: Firstly, for each perk claimed they will create a copy of the full Developmental Economics course and give it away in East Africa (10-14 DVDs) to individuals, groups, and institutions that can put it to use. This will include instructions for going online to to take the exams and earn a certificate.   (MORE AFTER JUMP!)

Secondly, they will send you a Master DVD with the data to 1) recreate the full course in DVD version (including DVD artwork), 2) watch on your computer, and 3) listen to the audio version. Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok will be autographing the DVD covers for a limited number of the Master DVDs. Full details of how to help spread education and get a cool DVD for yourself or as gifts can be found here: Take a few minutes to check out their video: They need to collect about 175 $100 bills to reach their goal and only pay a 4% commission to Indiegogo rather than 9% - so every donation matters, no matter how small! At least half of your donations will go directly to donating computer equipment for their partner projects, the rest will finance their legal costs an operational costs both in the US, where they have applied for tax-exempt status, and East Africa. Full Disclosure: I'll be serving on their innaugural Board of Directors and look forward to seeing how this progresses and providing whatever advice I can. Though their primary focus is on technology, the Larson brothers firmly believe that an understanding of incentives and incentive structures can allow technology to deployed in such a way to maximize value creation and spread peace, prosperity, and good times. More details can be found on their website blog, where you can also sign up for their newsletter to keep informed.

Jay welcomes any feedback and suggestions you have, he can be reached at He also encourages everyone to go to and check out the great courses that are available, and to get involved with Tunapanda in any way you can with your ideas via their forums or by working with them directly.

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