Checking in with our epA 2019 winners – a blog series: BLUETOWN

In this 11-part blog series, we will be checking in with our empowering people. Award (epA) 2019 winners to see what they’ve been up to since our most recent award ceremony in Cairo last July. Check out what’s new with BLUETOWN!

Below is an interview with Emil Damholt, Impact and Commercial Project Manager at BLUETOWN.

Locals in the community learning about BLUETOWN’s Internet connectivity options.

Siemens Stiftung: Firstly, can you explain to your fellow empowering people. Network (epN) members and readers what you do, where you do it, and, most importantly, why?

Emil: BLUETOWN is an Internet service provider with a mission of connecting the unconnected. We pursue this mission by developing our own solar-powered connectivity solutions and engage in multi-stakeholder partnerships to bring Internet connectivity to under-served communities in the Global South. So far, we have completed projects in India, Ghana, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Rwanda. We do so, because we believe Internet access is today’s most powerful tool for change, yet a persistent digital divide (50% of the global population remain unconnected!) threatens to exacerbate existing inequalities faced by rural communities.

Siemens Stiftung: More than half a year ago, you were a winner of the empowering people. Award 2019. What has/have been the major change(s) for your company and team since then? For you as an entrepreneur?

Emil: Since then, we have been busy expanding our reach in Ghana, which means that we now cover more than 200 locations (and growing rapidly) and have launched our LOCAL CLOUD solution in the country which gives our users data-free access to curated content such as Covid-19 informational videos by the WHO.

Siemens Stiftung: After your participation in the award ceremony and the empowering people. Workshop, that focused on story telling for social entrepreneurs and peer coaching, have you made any changes to the way you operate? If so, what changes?

Users can access the LOCAL CLOUD for information including Covid-19 topics.

Emil: The epWorkshop reconfirmed our belief that communicating clearly both externally and internally about our mission and activities is crucial. More so, we have actively used the network for peer-learning on projects and continue to benefit from it.

Local infrastructure (pictured in the background) is important for local Internet connectivity.

Siemens Stiftung: What has been your biggest success, personally or professionally, since then?

Emil: Launching our LOCAL CLOUD solution in Ghana was a major milestone for us, as well as finalizing an Impact Management Framework together with the UNDP Business Call to Action team, which allows us to continuously monitor and adjust our activities to maximize the impact of our projects for our users.

Siemens Stiftung: What are you working on now? And what are your future plans?

Emil: We are currently busy scaling our activities in Ghana and onboarding new partners to our CLOUD.

Siemens Stiftung: With your membership, in what way(s) do you hope to benefit from epN? And if applicable, how have you already gained from your connection to the ecosystem?

Emil: We are very excited about the frequent workshops being hosted by the epN, even in these turbulent times, through digital means. Lately, it has been particularly helpful that the epN has provided competent guidance for Covid-19 responses. Moreover, we have been put in dialogue with the great people of the Siemens Stiftung Media Portal to collaborate on bringing their incredible learning content to the rural schools we connect; this venture really takes advantage of the synergies within the ecosystem to advance our common visions of empowering people.

Siemens Stiftung: Thank you, Emil! Congratulations for doing your part to share information related to Covid-19 via your LOCAL CLOUD solution. And, good luck with your expansion efforts!

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