The Infopreneur® Network comes with a fresh approach to Information and Entrepreneurial services, essentially a service to support risk-reduced decision-making by providing reliable, up-to-date data and learning to clients in all spheres of society, but especially so for local government and rural communities.
Our approach is rooted in our belief (confirmed by our surveys in rural regions of South Africa) that cold clinical data is not the only basis for sustainable and profitable decision making. The best database and software without the change agents at grassroots-level may come to naught!
The change agents in our network are the Infopreneurs® who stay in their communities and are able to interact with community members in an empathetic, caring and understanding way. Who and what are Infopreneurs? They are:
- Members of the (rural) Communities where they work;
- Locals knowing the culture, languages (mostly about 3-5) and traditions of their communities;
- Self-sustainable agents of ECONOMIC and SOCIAL change;
- Trained and enabled to do surveys in various fields, including Indigenous Knowledge Systems;
- Geared to bridge ‘the last HUMAN mile’ with a custom-adapted mix of technologies; and
- Geared and ready to exchange Data, Information and Entrepreneurial services in a variety of disciplines in rural towns and villages throughout South Africa… into and out-of villages.
By using the Infopreneur Network we will not only ensure that the data about the indigents are captured and verified in an efficient and economical way but we will also ensure that each qualifying collector will become a sustainable entrepreneur in his /her own right - with the Infopreneur Network in support.
Our network has three interlinked layers: Back Office, Regional Infopreneurs and Community Infopreneurs. Each layer conducts a range of network services that continually enhance the Network. The back office is located at the CSIR. Four regions (Districts) are operational at the moment, involving 20 people in total. These are: Vhembe (Limpopo), Bojanala (North West), Siyanda and Namakwa (Northern Cape). Training and mentoring of Community Infopreneurs are done on a continuous basis by hand-picked Regional Infopreneurs.
Our Infopreneurs were all recruited with a specific social-entrepreneurial profile in mind – the tacit knowledge of their own communities, peoples, languages, places and cultures proved to be a major advantage. Continuous exposure to the global market and skills training is standard practise.
Our achievements to date:
- We have established three Regional Infopreneurs and twenty Infopreneurs since 2009 in four regions (Districts) of South Africa.
- The Infopreneurs in Makhado Municipality surveyed and captured 4000 records of SMME’s. Most of them are active in the Informal (2nd) Economy.
- They also surveyed tourism establishments in the Nzhelele valley before the 2010 World Cup.
- DST contracted the Infopreneur Network to compile a catalogue of Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS). We have surveyed and captured 900 records of IKS holders so far.
- Makhado Infopreneurs have started harvesting Indigenous Knowledge using video, laptops, cameras and GPSs.
- They also organized an Indigenous Knowledge Awareness Day on behalf of DST in conjunction with the University of Venda.
- We tested our database’s capability to send SMSs as a promotion to SMME’s, with resounding success.
- All the Regional Infopreneurs have excellent relations with the Local Municipalities and District Municipalities in their areas - especially with the Local Economic Development and Planning sections.