New RSF Loan Helps Digital Divide Data Deliver IT Services With Social Impact
November 8, 2012
RSF Social Finance is pleased to announce a new loan to Digital Divide Data (DDD), a social enterprise with a mission to provide steady, meaningful work to nearly 1,000 young people in Laos, Cambodia, and Kenya. DDD was founded in 2001 with the idea that the world’s poorest citizens can produce their own solutions to poverty in the new global economy if they have access to the knowledge, skills, and opportunities that power economic growth and lasting change around the world. RSF’s line of credit to Digital Divide will be used to manage cash flow, in particular its payroll obligations which don’t always match up with payments from clients.
With a twist on the business model of many firms in India and the Philippines, DDD employs high school graduates in countries like Cambodia, Laos and Kenya to provide Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) services to clients.
DDD’s clients include major universities (Stanford, Harvard, Yale and Princeton), publisher and eContent delivery companies (Libre Digital and Reader’s Digest), large corporations (Ancestry and Mobitel), development institutions (World Bank and the German Development Agency), and national libraries (in Great Britain, the Netherlands and Singapore.)
DDD employees support a range of content processing services including eBook production, print-on-demand file creation, transcription, newspaper and magazine digitization, XML conversion and data entry. This work enhances the value of data and makes publications and archives searchable and more accessible online and on mobile devices.
DDD recruits talented youth, who would not otherwise have the opportunity for higher education, and provides them with the training needed to work with digital content. Once on board, employees work six hours per day and also attend university classes, graduating in five or six years. Employees receive university tuition covered by DDD, medical and vision care, free motorcycle helmets, and child care.
DDD operates in Cambodia, Laos, and Kenya—all countries with per capita income of less than $1,000/year. DDD is creating new industries in these countries by developing the human capital and proving the viability of BPO operations in areas that would otherwise not attract such investment.
“Digital Divide data is lifting both individuals and families out of poverty,” says Ted Levinson, Director of Lending at RSF. “To date, more than 2,000 young people have graduated from the program and many of them are now earning four times the regional average income. It’s this kind of impact that really drives what we do.”
“RSF’s financing is critical as Digital Divide Data continues to scale our work,” says CEO Jeremy Hockenstein. “It enables us to focus on our core business—and the impact we have on youth. We’ve seen how the RSF team really understands our business as a social enterprise; they are not just good bankers, but partners who add value to what we do.”
About Digital Divide Data
Digital Divide Data is an innovative, internationally acclaimed social enterprise. We create jobs for talented youth in developing countries by delivering high-quality content business process outsourcing services to clients globally. This business empowers our staff with the skills and experience they need to lift themselves out of poverty. When our business grows, so does our impact. For more information please visit http://www.digitaldividedata.org.