Technology for India – Indian diaspora gets involved

A new Seattle nonprofit is looking for ways to use technology to alleviate Third World poverty, the Puget Sound Business Journal reported June 26.

Digital Partners was founded by Craig Smith, publisher of Seattle’s Corporate Philanthropy Report. The group received a $200,000 launch grant from the Kellogg Foundation, and started its first project this week.

The project, an India-focused technology initiative, began with a meeting of area executives and grant-makers. The project’s working group includes many prominent members of Seattle’s Indian tech-world diaspora: Microsoft general manager Vijay Vashee, Talisma co-founder Pradeep Singh and University of Washington business school dean Yash Gupta, among others. The group’s executive director is Akhtar Badshah, former head of the University of Washington’s nonprofit Asia Pacifica Cities Forum.

The first step, Badshah told the Business Journal, will be to study existing programs and learn what is working. The group is interested both in increasing access to technology and in Internet sites that provide information — agricultural data, for example — that might help the poor improve their situation.

Depending on what they find, Badshah said, the group might decide to fund an existing program or start one of their own.

The long-term goal is to develop a market for technology services to the poor and get businesses involved, much as microcredit has done in banking, Badshah said.

A second working group focused on Africa is in the formative stage.

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