How to create a sustainable deployment program?


How to create a sustainable deployment program?

Are there both non-profit and for-profit examples of successful programs? (I have not yet read all the details of the 10 NetHope Grant partners to determine their status.)

Can some stages non-profit and others be profit?

  1. Acquisition/sale of equipment.
  2. Installation & initial training on system use and teaching practices.
  3. Ongoing tech support & teaching support.
  4. Running the actual lab/site/classroom.
  5. Creation of additional custom content.

The situation in each area will be different, but what is typical? Are people typically:
(1) raising donations to pay for the equipment, selling the equipment or financing it?
(2) giving some or all tech support & teacher training for free? Or charging for some or all services?
(3) able to charge enough for a sustainable non-profit or a for-profit organisation?

REF: I had assumed BRCK was non-profit but it is now a for-profit company. It started as a volunteer effort, then the May 2013 Kickstarter was by non-profit Ushahidi, but at some point spun off BRCK as a profit company that raised 1.2 million in 2014 from Invested Development, and another 3 million in 2015 (increasing from 9 employees to 40). Their blog is full of deployment stories but no mention of who pays the bills other than an occasional mention of partners. They also have a non-profit arm but appears little-used.

My goal is to get offline servers into Indonesian schools because they many lack access to good educational resources. I assume that there are some schools that can barely pay anything and others that can pay. I initially assumed that it would be a non-profit effort but in Indonesia there is a focus on creating for-profit social enterprises so that the effort & social benefit is sustainable. (My main interest supporting those schools who can’t pay, to help them, but that’s entirely at the whim of donors.)

Is something like the following reasonable (i.e. create two related companies)?


  • Volunteer & non-profit effort to collect the shareable Indonesian-language content & pair that with an offline server (presumably RACHEL) & support-forum tech support.
  • Raises funds to pay for projects
  • Resale of any RACHEL hardware (assuming World Possible allows, because having every customer place an international order is cumbersome due to aggravatingly slow & expensive customs here.)


  • On-site deployment & training
  • Priority tech support
  • Other hardware packages/kits. Ex (1) Portable kit with offline server, projector, document camera, microscope & one laptop. (2) Class set of tablets, like KioKit (3) Class set of laptops. [Can Rachel Plus be included in a kit, as long as the price is not marked-up?] (4) Other educational maker kits using Arduino or robotics.
  • Custom content & software.
  • Other commercial offline servers, ex. that are setup for centralized internet management of many offline servers.

Note: I don’t intend to run classrooms myself, just support those who do.

What are your thoughts?
What are people doing?



We’re trying to figure out exactly the same things! How have things progressed since you posted this? Does anyone else have ideas or experiences?


My Raspberry PI class with RACHEL PI server was started by accident. I started with the PI for an amateur radio project and 2 weeks later the class was being designed. I have a Haitian college student staying with me and since he was granted a scholarship that semester, we decided to move the funds I had already set aside, to pay for the PI class, everything needed, solar, PI’s, batteries, etc. I decided personally fund it 100% to make sure I could get it up and running and make sure it was successful before asking people to support something of this scale (22 desktops and RACHEL PI server).

We plan to fund raise in order to expand or program. I felt the need to have a lot of data to support what we are trying to do. I want to show how many students and teachers attend, how well they are progressing and how they actually feel about the class. I see posts on social media raising money for animals that bring in a ton of money. However, when it comes to non-profits that go into impoverished areas to work with people to provide skills, jobs, food, etc, people here like what the NGOs do, but I think a lot of them just don’t want to get to involved. I think, if people have evidence of, and acknowledge the suffering and greater need, it weighs on them and they avoid it. I know family and friends that would not be able to handle 10 days in Haiti without struggling. Boots on the ground is what changes the hearts and minds.

I think you have to start with educators, IT/ computer folks in order to create the connection to the benefits. Once you are up and running, it will be easier to get others to join in.

We have a few people on our Haitian team that are in college for Telecom/ IT. The team has gotten more comfortable and starting to see how this could be a business opportunity for them. Our goal is to train them to be able to make an empty room a class, teach the class, train new teachers and do basic maintenance. As time goes, it can get more complex if they choose. The whole idea is to help them start the business of it and I can slowly back out and offer support and parts that are not available there. They do look at me funny, that I will make $0 from this. The NGO could receive some of the funds for future projects, replacement parts, training, etc, but in the end it all goes back to the cause.

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Thank you!! Best of luck to you!