One Laptop Per Nigerian Child would be 73% of the entire governmental income and One Laptop Per Argentinean Child would be half of the non-salary education budget. Countries like Rwanda or Nepal have no hope to afford even $100 per child out of their own national budgets. And this is all before the additional OLPC products.
So what are the alternate One Laptop Per Child financing options? Bram Ellens, a Business Developer at eBay, asks it the best:
What's the optimal business model to assure a healthy future for the $100 laptop? Selling directly to countries and leaving it to them how to distribute might not prove the most sustainable solution. In the vaccine business in the third world one of the biggest problems is reselling subsidized vaccines to 2nd or first world countries. Why not think of business models as innovative as the laptop itself? I think a great product like this deserves it.We have all heard of the oft-stated idea of one-for-two purchases for OLPC XO - where "rich" people buy one laptop at double price so a child in a poor country gets one for free. While it's a great idea, Nicholas Negroponte is quick to point out that this idea will not be executed by One Laptop Per Child:
Why not leveraging micro credits to make it affordable to families to buy it themselves in stead of giving it away? Or monetize the cult status the machine now already has in western countries?
When that happens, let me say, 8-12 months from now, it will be somebody else not us. The reason we don't do it and the reason that isn't the economic model from the onset is that it is too incremental. And if we start doing anything commercial, then the clarity of purpose goes away.
Before you knee jerk with "donors" do note that OLPC expects countries to spend $30 Billion per year. The World Bank only lent $23 Billion in 2005 and it's the premier multilateral financier, the United Way, America's largest NGO according to Forbes, had a $3.8 Billion budget in 2005, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, America's richest endowment, only has 31.9 Billion in total assets in 2006, including the first installment of Warren Buffet's gift.
With these large numbers and even larger constraints in mind, my dear OLPC News readership, its time to sharpen your pencils, whip out your calculators, and put on your thinking caps (or tin hats) and give us alternate One Laptop Per Child financing options.
How do you think a participating country (pick one) can afford spending $200 per child (a nice round number cost guesstimate of XO + Products) to:
- equip all 6 year olds with new laptops,
- each successive annual cohort of 6 year olds with computers
- each annual cohort of 11 year olds with replacement machines