Kopernik Launches Today: New Online Store of Technology Designed for the Poor

Posted by on Feb 19, 2010 in AshokaTECH, Blog | No Comments

This post originally published on the AshokaTECH blog.

Image Source: Kopernik

Kopernik is a group of former UN workers and today, Feb 19th, they are launching Kopernik—www.thekopernik.org—an online store of technology designed for the developing world.

According to Ewa Wojkowska, Co-Founder of Kopernik:

“The technology addresses simple but critical needs—solar power, self-adjusting eyeglasses and quick water filtration, for example.

As Haiti continues to clear the rubble, as a measure of stability comes to Sudan, as Sri Lanka holds a bitter peace, a new development opportunity presents itself in some of the world’s poorest and most troubled places.”

Here is their press release announcing the launch:

New York, NY (19 February 2010) — Kopernik — www.thekopernik.org — a new non-profit venture that provides life-changing technology to the poor, launches today.  Kopernik makes technology designed for the developing world accessible through the Internet and by harnessing the power of individual donations.

“The problems we’re addressing appear simple but often hold millions of people back,” commented Kopernik co-founder Ewa Wojkowska. “The LifeStraw for water purification, the solar powered lamp, self-adjusting eye glasses–the world has the technology and capacity to produce these items, but the people who need them can”t get hold of them.”

Kopernik’s aim is to bring this technology to the poor in developing countries via the site, and link them to individuals willing to make a donation towards the purchase of the products.

“By providing individuals with a way to donate directly towards the purchase of the products, we’re creating a more efficient supply chain from manufacturer to recipient without getting bogged down in the inefficiencies of large agencies that have historically acted as the go-between.”

Review a list of technology currently available through Kopernik.

Kopernik is the brain-child of Ewa Wojkowska and Toshi Nakamura who have extensive experience in international development as UN staff members. Read more on the founders of Kopernik.

With early operations already up and running in Indonesia, Sierra Leone, and Timor-Leste, Kopernik has been overwhelmed by positive response and plans to develop a truly worldwide service to the poor. “Since beginning operations in the summer of ’09, we’ve piloted Kopernik in selected countries, building on our networks with local organizations and communities” Wojkowska said. View a success story from our pilot.

“Through our work with the UN we’ve recognized both the opportunities and the challenges in international development,” says Kopernik co-founder Nakamura. “It is clear to us that there is a huge need in the developing world for direct access to what are often simple but life-changing technologies. With Kopernik, we’re excited to apply our experience and create direct links between supplier and client.”  View the stories of inventors of the technology featured on Kopernik.

Kopernik provides a menu of available technologies for local organizations in developing countries. These organizations then provide short proposals explaining how they will make them available to those most in need. Visitors to the site in turn review the proposals, and make donations to fund the plan of their choice. Review a detailed outline of how Kopernik works.

With the site’s launch, Kopernik joins Kiva and GlobalGiving in the global revolution to use the internet as the critical link between the developed and developing worlds.

“What sets Kopernik apart is the focus on technology and a review mechanism for local organizations, or ‘technology seekers,’ to rate the products. By including a feedback mechanism on the effectiveness of these technologies, Kopernik gives voice and choice to local communities and organizations – simple elements that are so frequently missed in international development efforts,” explained Nakamura.

In the run-up to its launch, Kopernik was named winner of the 2009 Japanese Innovation Grant awarded “for the organization’s global scope and solid sustainability model.” Kopernik features a strong management and advisory board of established experts from the development and private sectors. Read more on the Kopernik Board.

Kopernik is named after Nicolaus Copernicus (1473 – 1543).  “He is known for changing how people viewed the world around them,” Wojkowska said.  “In our own way we hope to change how people approach development and how some of the greatest challenges facing the world today are addressed.”  The launch of Kopernik coincides with Copernicus’ birthday, February 19, 1473.

For more information or to schedule an interview, interested parties can contact Kopernik Co-Founder Ewa Wojkowska.

* Editor’s note:  Kopernik’s Tech4Dev Blog has been on our blog roll here at AshokaTECH for some time.  It’s exciting to see them launch their new store and we wish them luck!