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Advocacy Project Blogs - 2007 Fellow: Julia Zoo

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11/06/07

The Secret of South-South Cooperation

Posted By: julia

The man was driving only with his right hand. Sitting in the front passenger seat, holding tight on my securely fastened seat belt, I tried hard to look casual. To make matters worse, he was trying to answer his mobile phone also with his right hand, leaving the steering wheel free from any controlling hand. While I was trying to offer him a hand, I noticed that he is driving in bare foot. Still and all, he maneuvered his car so well, seamlessly moving forward through the chaotic streets of Colombo, which barely have traffic lights, but abundant in armed soldiers, policemen, and barricades.

I was on my way to a shellac factory in suburban Colombo, Sri Lanka. The secret behind the way people meet always amazes me. When it was decided that I was to go to Colombo to present eHomemakers case study at an UNDP regional conference on ‘good practice of localized poverty reduction programs’, Ching Ching gave me a name card of the factory’s business manager. She met him about a month ago at a global SME (small and medium sized enterprise) exhibition in Kuala Lumpur. After the four-day conference, I called him to get a sample of environmentally friendly lacquer, to use it for our eco-basket production. And I was in the car kindly offered by the manager to make it to his factory.

The manager, a very pleasant Sri Lankan, was very proud of his product, a high-quality water-based lacquer that meets even the stricter EU standard. He also told me how he first met Ching Ching at the exhibition, and how their company was actually planning to build a plant in Melaka, Malaysia soon. A rather curious combination of a Malaysian social enterprise in women’s development and a lacquer factory in Sri Lanka, but obviously it has a promising future ahead.

On my way back to the hotel, with a bottle of lacquer safely tucked in my bag, I thought how the needy can find the right help in one of the most unlikely places. Driving in the middle of a very busy road in Colombo, where a trishaw, a huge bus that probably dates back to 1950’s, a bicycle, a shabby tractor, and a Mercedes all move together. Everybody was driving in her own phase, some barefoot, some with only right hand, and some shouting at his passengers who are dangling at the doorless door of a bus. And it struck me that it looked so strangely natural, probably because they knew exactly what they were doing; and they were moving in their own phase.

And suddenly, all the interesting presentations during the past four days of the conference, talking about the localization of poverty reduction programs for MDG, seemed very far away. We talked about knowledge sharing and partnership among different governments and aid organizations, but a grassroots organization from Malaysia had just now started a new South-South cooperation with a Sri Lankan shellac factory. And the secrets of this ‘good practice’ were the moments of meeting the right people in a right place and of knowing that help may come from the most unexpected places, and of course, my right-handed driver who knew the way through.

08/27/07

Market Not Ready

Posted By: julia

“How should we set our payment method?” Mariko’s question one afternoon led the entire crew at eHomemakers into an intense brainstorming on e-commerce. Mariko, my fellow peace fellow at eHomemakers, was working hard this summer to create a website for the Salaam Wanita project to sell our baskets online.

From the other day’s training session with our e-commerce tech partner, Mariko and I learned quite a bit about various payment methods available to sprouting e-commerce websites. However, the question was its value to a small social enterprise like eHomemakers; that whether the benefit of setting up an e-commerce module would exceed the cost incurred, particularly the licensing fees including set up fee, yearly subscription fee and 3-5% commission for every transaction made.

Surely, our web presence will increase the chance of attracting potential customers previously unreachable to us, allowing maximum impact out of our very tight budget on marketing and sales. Fully equipped in e-commerce, we may expand on our first international order from US this month and increase the order size with automation.

But then again, the cost. We may have to raise our basket price to cover this additional cost. Then, can our customers afford our price? Will they see our e-commerce website as a trust worthy solution to use their credit card? Wait a minute, do they have credit cards in the first place? What do we know about our customers? Our conversation went on. Maybe, it is not just about the cost-benefit analysis at eHomemakers, but something that should cover more than that, like, the market readiness.

In many developing countries, the e-commerce market is still not fully ripe. For one, not every household owns a credit card, the most trusted payment method to the majority of online shops out there. From the experience of the Pan-ASEAN e-Mall, an online handicraft shop that accepts only two major credit card payments, the engineer acknowledged that 80-90 percent of their sales come from North America and Australia, in stark contrast to only 10 to 20 percent local sales. The borderless marketing via Internet may end up being confined in an unexpected border called ‘necessary conditions,’ such as the access to a rather expensive payment method. And after all the calculations, a realization comes that the size of the market ‘ready’ for e-commerce is not quite big at all.

In the mean time, the rest, those who cannot afford the e-commerce, are increasingly excluded from the economy. In some sense, they are the orphan population, to whom few private companies get interested in tapping into the market; thus, not many solutions have been developed to invite them into the era of e-commerce. And this is the truth about the dispassionate diagnosis that ‘market is not ready.’

That was our conclusion as well. After our own small computation, we set telegraphic transfer as our one and only solution for online purchase, requiring 50% deposit upon placing an order and payment in full before we ship products. That is quite a hassle of order process compared to a one-stop payment via credit card, which would potentially repel customers. But we would never tell whether the customer would pick up their orders unless we charge a lump sum deposit; in the mean time, our customer would never know whether we are going to actually deliver the product upon receiving 50% deposit. This is a rather sad lose-lose situation, but there is a void of an affordable trust mechanism to prevent this from happening.

Recently, I came across a news article on Tune Money, a new payment solution for e-commerce. In principle, users can just buy a prepaid voucher offline and punch in the numbers at the e-commerce website to check out, setting themselves free from the credit card requirement. Capturing the niche for the marginalized population, the initiative seems very much pro-poor. But still, details remain unknown as to the licensing fees to be charged to the e-commerce shop owners. In early September when more details are available, we shall see whether it is truly geared towards preparing more population to be ready for e-commerce with affordable and trust worthy payment mechanism.

08/18/07

Communication, Communication, Communication

Posted By: julia

Whenever I explain what I do at eHomemakers, I usually mention ICT for development. Eight out of ten, even though they are in development field, return a curious face waiting for my description on what ICT stands for. Well, it is Information Communication Technology, and a quick and dirty explanation usually follows, that it is something like the Internet, computer and mobile phone.

To think about it for the second time, the word ICT is actually a combination of IT, information technology, and CT, communication technology. Even though both information and communication should carry equal weight of importance to the listeners, the picture people usually draw is mostly about information. We are mesmerized by the ‘information’ that in the emerging information society, knowledge should be your new asset; information as something that you can capitalize. Indeed, people ‘own’ information in the form of intellectual property, and the jackpot an innovative idea can bring has become everybody’s dream. Amid such tips to lead you to this new type of prosperity, the meaning the other letter C stands for is usually lost.

Recalling back Namrata’s inspiring presentation at AWCF, communication is inherently mutual. It happens among people, thus cannot belong to just one individual. Communication, in this sense is a means to enrich the sharing of information, which in turn fulfills the true nature of information as a public good. But when we talk about ICT, the essence of communication is usually faded away right next to the vivid array of information as a new form of valuable, which can be exclusively owned by individuals.

Earlier this week, we made a short trip to Sleyang to interview Foong Yee, a Salaam Wanita basket weaver. There were six ladies altogether in Foong Yee’s group, three of them actually neighbors just three minutes away from one another. Taking full advantage of this location, they frequently gather around Foong Yee’s place to talk about their baskets. Just to help your understanding, this is not quite usual Salaam Wanita process, as most other Salaam Wanita ladies work alone, usually from their own home. And to give you a little more, Foong Yee and her group are the best weavers Salaam Wanita has.

Watching them talking to each other very loud in the small living room of Foong Yee’s flat, it struck me that perhaps what makes them the best is their communication – they hang around, go to shopping mall together to see new design baskets, talk, laugh, listen to one another and become all friends. Communication is their asset that they all share but that does not belong to just one of them to own.

They use mobile phones to arrange these informal ‘meetings.’ Placing calls and sending SMS is still a very new technology to many of them, as some of them had their first mobile phone only after joining Salaam Wanita. A humble form of ICT, if you will, helps them to create information and share it through communication, and makes them all the best.

“Friends are very important because they can help each other,” Foong Yee says. And what makes them friends is, communication, communication, communication.

08/08/07

SME in a Box

Posted By: julia

It was my brother who first introduced me to the world of the ‘feasible alternative’. One summer, he came back with a brand new laptop loaded with Firefox (Mozilla Firefox now), replacing the all time favorite Internet Explorer. Even though he advocated its being an ‘open source’ software with the philosophy of knowledge as a public good, what I saw from Firefox then was its new (thus inconvenient) interface and the messed-up (thus not functional) website views since many of websites didn’t support Firefox at that time. And that was my first encounter to the open source; agreeing on the idea but questioning the practical impact.

Last week, I was participating in a forum in Bangkok organized by Asian Women in Co-Operative Development Forum (AWCF) on ICT application in enterprise development. There was a guest speaker from the International Open Source Network (IOSN) at UNDP-APDIP, to introduce and promote open source software as an affordable solution to serve co-op members, most of them helping micro/small-size entrepreneurs. It was a very interesting presentation including the news that they are currently on the way developing an open source software package for small and medium enterprises called ‘SME in a Box’, the second version of which will be released by the end of this year.

As most of the open source movements, the key behind it is to provide a viable alternative to propriety solutions, furnishing equal functionality at a lower cost, without paying a bulk money for annual, scale-based licensing fee. Why the bootleg software market is so flourishing in many developing countries? In part, it may be due to the people not considering the intangible product as something as valuable as their rickshaws, or to those too weak and soft responses from the government regulating the violation of intellectual property law. However, amid the discussions of protecting the Intellectual Property and promoting innovation through IP protection, another important point doesn’t receive enough spotlight; that maybe, they really can not afford the official product – the price of innovation and creativity, a.k.a. licensing fee, is simply to high for them to start innovating on their own.

I’m not going to argue the immorality of [some] intellectual property law here. But you may agree, that it is near nonsense to refer to words like ‘productivity’ or ‘efficiency’ today without equipping your (small) business with a word processing program or an excel sheet to record and keep track of your transactions. But what if you cannot afford it? Would you enter the informal bootleg market?

Most of the participants in the Forum were representatives from small and medium Co-operative organizations in South East Asian countries, and the level of attention was quite high, reflecting their interest. And most agreed that developing such a package surely seems like a promising first step, but at the same time, going open source is not a panacea to actually let them leapfrog.

One of the participants, a co-op from Indonesia shared her own first exposure to open source software. She had received a free open-source software CD a while ago, but she didn’t try it twice after realizing that it’s different from what she’d been using and there was no one to teach her; and that to use it, she should start learning anew by herself and until she becomes proficient, she would remain ICT-illiterate again for a while. (But she promised to try and learn it now that she had understood how nice the open source movement was)

Just as she mentioned, open source has not yet gained wider ground in many developing countries, where large propriety companies comprise the mainstream. As a matter of fact, for many SMEs, applying ICT is not just about the availability of product per se but rather about the availability of support and guidance, the existence of rich support network where they can turn to whenever they face small and large, serious and not so serious problems as they go. And being in South significantly reduces the opportunity to benefit from this support they need.

Our guest speaker at the forum, concluding his presentation, mentioned the training of the trainers to serve as a support network for open source movement for development. This was in fact one of the next steps where more attention should be paid (and not necessarily ‘is’ paid currently). Compared to the vivid presence of CDs he distributed after the presentation, those words sounded somewhat too much like a ‘recommendation’ section decorating the end of any random research paper.

It’s been six years since I first tried out my Firefox. Now, I don’t find any difficulty browsing most North-based websites and many South-based sites with it. It takes time to gain a critical mass, which would eventually lead people to start paying more attention to the movement and providing support and resources. I just saw SME in a Box taking off with great idea behind it. It will take time, but I really hope my next encounter with it would be also with promising applications to many SMEs out there.

*Many thanks to Dr. Francis for the presentation

07/31/07

Being a Generalist

Posted By: julia

Last Friday, we made it to a ‘Tech Nite’ workshop for young IT professionals in Kuala Lumpur. We were a bit late and the presentation from an American entrepreneurship coach was about to hit climax. He was just finished mentioning on the right traits as an entrepreneur, and comparing the benefits of having general knowledge in broader area against special knowledge on specific, narrower field. His point was this: if you want to succeed as an entrepreneur who owns and manages the business, you should possess general knowledge as opposed to special knowledge.

Well, the prospect came fresh to me, with a realization that I’ve been trying hard for these years (like everybody else around me, individual, organization alike,) to be a specialist in field. After all, we are living in a world of information where the sea of information is just one-click away, and consequently, it is more important to know-where (to find an expert) rather than to know-how (to do it yourself). In the mean time, you should brush up yourself as an expert for some other field, waiting for the duty call from society to contribute your expertise in turn.

I still remember having this online debate in my undergraduate sociology class, where people argued in unison (strangely) on the superiority of “generalist approach” in social change. In the end, it ended up being a rather sad rationalization of our majoring in sociology, a not very popular (at least in Korea at that time as it is now) subject in this era of marketing, law, stock, and medical specialists. However, the logic behind the claim was that critical questions to the human nature and function of society, as we practice in human studies including sociology, should be the basis of all specialist approaches and “generalist” should play a role as a lighthouse in the sea of knowledge, providing a holistic understanding that links different disciplines. A multiplayer. A libero. A person who sees the wood rather than a tree. And perhaps, this is what our entrepreneurship development coach was talking about.

Finally, an application to our role as a peace fellow. In an NGO where maybe more than 10 different kinds of expertise are in need, ranging from a marketing specialist, an IT development specialist, a program management specialist to an administration specialist, it is usually a lone (or two still lone) peace fellow(s) trying hard to juggle things and realizing the greatness of being a generalist.

07/11/07

The pitfall of quick and easy ICT

Posted By: julia

One of the first tasks I was assigned after arriving here was to troubleshoot IT problems in the office. I instantly gained a status of an IT guru by helping them setting up a scheduler program and creating vacation messages and forwarding option at outlook. But in many times, the issues were as basic as un-muting the sound level at windows volume control or sorting emails by date received, which didn’t necessarily require any able hand of an expert at all.

A challenge turned up very soon, however, which was about actually transferring our web host to a new company. eHomemakers’ website was hosted by a Malaysian web hosting service, which had been doing its job free of charge for nonprofit organizations like eHomemakers and receiving certain amount of government grant to compensate its cost. However, as eHomemakers network has gained reputation during these past years, the website started to attract more traffic, which also, unfortunately, included hackers and spammers.

After several hacker attacks earlier this year, eHomemakers was left with two hacked index pages in Malaysian and Mandarin versions of its website, which greeted visitors with an auto-played audio file announcing that ‘this site is proudly hacked by xxx.’ Furthermore, an increasing number of our email newsletters started bouncing back as spammers used our domain name to send junk mails. Obviously, the promise of ICT as a great outreaching tool was coming back to us as a double-edged sword.

Help from our web host was quite difficult to find. After two months of silence since the initial request from eHomemakers to ‘unhack’ these pages, we were suddenly informed of a three-week-notice of end of service. According to Ching Ching, behind this abrupt end was an absolute ‘never mind’ attitude; that they do not bother helping us any more. “When we applied for the grant, they gave me a list of government-contracted IT companies from which I should choose my IT service.” In short, she went on, there are virtually no competition and no need to respond to customers, once you have succeeded in placing your name on the list. As a nonprofit organization receiving this ‘benefit’, you are usually left with no other choice than finding a less irresponsible ‘IT consultant’.

That was why this time, she was so determined to find a US-based host, who would be supposedly more responsive, reliable and better equipped with technology. And this time, I could not even start my usual argument that “why a US-based one when you have such strong ICT infrastructure here in Malaysia already.”

Well, in principle, it would be better to find a local hosting service to which we can access easier and faster, on top of the fact that the choice would be more desirable to ‘build the local capacity’. Already impressed and amazed by the ICT infrastructure in Malaysia, I thought web-hosting service would be the last thing you need to – or should – import from the US.

However, on the other hand, there was this pressure of reality at hand, slated to roll down to us at any moment. The most important asset eHomemakers has is its 13,000 Internet members and we cannot really imagine a single day without a properly working website. By the same token, our monthly newsletters are our best outreach solution and we cannot afford more than half of our newsletters being bounced back due to the fact our name is wrongfully marked as a spammer. But to solve the problem – for our own survival – what we chose to do was to relocate our server to the US, against the principle of ‘local capacity development.’ When we jumped on the running train of ICT, we earned the name of an innovative organization using ICT for development. But was it only done at the expense of a firm basis for the next step, the capacity of local users and the service providers?

Three-week time has past very quickly. Wrapping up the adventure of transferring a website from a scratch, I realized anew the divide that should be bridged; that still, technology is not quite there to help people working for the most marginalized. Perhaps it is because I’m working for a nonprofit, or because I’m here in the global South, places where we experience limitations coming from scarce resource in ICT.

The distance to technology that ordinary people feel is still very wide here. eHomemakers’ staff were so eager to solve the problem, but the IT capacity was not quite there to do it by themselves. They put aside the problems they encounter, jeopardizing the rationale behind using the ICT in the first place – to improve efficiency. And the able hands around them were simply not interested in helping a not very lucrative small NGO office. It is not only about implementing an information system and throwing them a user manual kindly translated in local language, but about, seriously, ‘building capacity’ of people - users as well as local technicians to help them when they are stuck in problems. There is still a long road to ICT for development. And perhaps, that is the reason why ICT remains to be a luxury in many parts of the world.

Technorati Profile

06/27/07

A Tough Business

Posted By: julia

“That was another waste of time!!!” On our way out of the first meeting of the day, which went on in a very polished way with occasional laughter and a spice of personal story, Ching Ching was complaining. It was her third time visiting this company that showed interest in Salaam Wanita products for its CSR program, but nothing was set, hopefully as of yet. And she had to run into an unexpected second meeting that was kindly set up for her, over the phone during the first meeting, to discuss the teleworking opportunity for eHomemakers’ disadvantaged women.

Were it not for the relatively free schedule the lady over the phone happened to have that day, being able to sit in her office, take the call on time and say yes to his last minute request, Ching Ching would have to come over KL again from her home office at TTDI, sometime soon for the forth meeting. After all, that was supposed to be the agenda of ‘the meeting’, the reason why Ching Ching came to visit them; so, why not.

Our second partner in CSR was a nice person probably in her fifties. We have been referred to her company by our first contact as being able to offer teleworking jobs for our disadvantaged women. Ching Ching, with her usual charm and enthusiasm, started explaining her about how eHomemakers is excited about this new relationship through CSR, only to find out that this ‘CSR program’ was actually about recruiting telemarketers to sell hotel package memberships to middle to upper class people. Obviously, you can get commission only upon actually selling the membership, which would be no way suitable for our Salaam Wanita women to whom, such investment of time and phone bill without a guarantee of small but regular hourly wage is just too much of a risk.

On our way back home that evening, in a monorail that glides through capital’s tall buildings, we talked about what it means to be a partner NGO for CSR programs. How Malaysian companies are now starting their CSR, but how tiring sometimes it is to be on the side of ‘recipient’. Perhaps, they never care how much sacrifice this ‘partnership building’ process would entail for a small NGO like eHomemakers, since Ching Ching is the executive director, project manager, marketing person, grant writer, web editor and sometimes administrator all in one. And this was not her first time of experiencing this frustration. Even though we have trained teleworkers so willing to work at a competitive price, eHomemakers should always be standing on the side of a passive beneficiary, coming and going whenever it is called upon by the corporate partners, not being recognized as an equal partner who also has capacity to provide something valuable to them.

Recently I came across a podcast lecture on ‘Social Outsourcing,’ where traditional concept of recipients are no longer considered as just passive consumers of products in CSR relationship but as producers themselves by offering their services (mostly in IT sector) to the business.* It means empowerment and livelihood but at the same time fair contract with deliverables in relatively low cost. On top of that, business gains a social outcome by fulfilling their responsibility toward society. Just the simple recognition that people can offer something valuable in return to establish a mutually beneficial relationship is the key to success.

The meetings were not very fruitful, as she acknowledged. “It’s going to take them at least another two months to decide what they want to do.” Leaving behind the noise and bustle of KL central, I questioned to myself. Is she expecting too much from CSR? Is she targeting at the wrong direction? Is it possible that through CSR, ‘all parties win’? But what if she has to lose to get into that relationship, and what if she can not afford losing a single game? Should we keep on heading toward it? Questions remained, but we nodded, agreeing that working in CSR is really a tough business.

*To listen to the lecture, click here
It is from "Women's ICT-Based Enterprise for Development" project,coordinated by the Development Informatics Group at the University of Manchester.

06/18/07

The Taken-for-Granted

Posted By: julia

I thought I deserved a pat on my back when I did not forget bringing my universal A/C adapter with me to Malaysia– a brilliant invention that allows you to plug into virtually every electricity outlet in the world regardless of the shape of your plug. But on the first day of my work at eHomemakers’ home office, I realized that the weight of my adapter is simply too heavy to stay put in the electricity outlet; that I needed something else to hold it to make it work through.

And surprisingly (or not), it seems exactly like what is happening in Kuala Lumpur, around the buzzword of Information Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D). Here, everybody seems to have a mobile phone; local telecom companies offer Triple Play service that includes fixed line phone, wireless Internet connection and cable channels; and mobile phone carriers advertise their latest PDA pones - you name it. However, in contrast to this picture of burgeoning ICT sector in the capital, there are women like Kanesgawari and Fung Yee, eHomemakers’ Eco Basket weavers, who say ‘no’ with a shy smile when asked whether they have ever used the Internet.

Come to think of it, they have every reason to choose ICT as their solution to earn income for their family. They are living in the region probably with the world’s fastest speed of ICT development; and they can take care of their family (Kanesgawari is a mother of two Down syndrome children) while work at home through Internet.

But maybe the reason we don’t see it happening is that the heavy weight of entrance cost they have to pay upfront is simply too much, unless they get ‘other’ support to make it work for them. Sometimes it’s because they don't have enough money to afford a computer or Internet connection, or sometimes because they had no opportunity to learn basic ICT skills since they couldn't possibly leave their home, bound with all their motherly duties. These women are like living in an island with so little chance of communication with the world outside, even though they are desperately in need of more income and opportunity to work. But nobody seems to listen to their needs for access and think seriously about their lack of opportunity.

In remote rural areas, the isolation is somewhat universal; since everyone is deprived of access to communication and information, there at least exists a consensus that everyone should be given an opportunity. In urban regions like KL, however, the nature of isolation that the marginalized has to suffer is quite different, since it comes from the fact that their isolation is usually taken for granted. After all, they are only ‘homemakers,’ single moms, disabled or chronically ill, undereducated, extremely poor, or all of the above. As Ching Ching, the founder of eHomemakers, slapped in one of her columns, for many people, ICT for ‘homemakers’ is still “not sexy enough” to get the donors’ feet wet in the project.

However, what we usually don’t realize is that when those 'homemakers' talk about the need for Internet connection, it is not about luxury but about finding a way to survive. Living in the grey area of support, people like Kanegasawari and Fung yee are the ones who could get most benefit out of simple ICT literacy programs. They need other support to actually make the ‘information highway’ work for them - like I had to build a supporting block to hold my universal A/C adapter to stay plugged in the outlet to use my laptop.

05/24/07

Heading Out

Posted By: julia

I still remember the moment I set foot on KL for the first time, seven years ago. The city was an interesting mixture of everything, glamorous skyscrapers against deep blue sky of equatorial Malaysia, and shop signs written in three different languages that reminded me of its rich culture. I was so amazed to see all these different things dwell in one scene making such a wonderful picture together.

Preparing for my six-month stay in KL as an AP Peace Fellow for eHomemakers, I recall the excitement I felt seven years back. This time however, the excitement is somewhat different since it's not just about enjoying the beautiful mosaic of different pieces, but more so about bridging a divide that separates people within the picture; particularly as eHomemakers focuses on, how innovative technology can bring about new opportunities for the women entrepreneurs from disadvantaged communities in Malaysia.

Speaking of technology, I am a believer of Information Communication Technology (ICT). As I once read from Thomas Friedman’s book, I do believe “technology is the great equalizer,” which would bring unprecedented opportunities for learning and growing even to the most marginalized and disempowered. And as I read on the materials that Ching Ching, my enthusiastic host at eHomemakers sent me regarding their work, I become more and more excited from the realization that how ideal this experience would be for me to work with an ICT for Development (ICT4D) in the field. My departure is just in 12 days time and yes, I am looking forward to it.



Julia Hanah Zoo is an Advocacy Project Peace Fellow, volunteering this summer with eHomemakers, AP’s partner organization in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She recently received her master’s degree in international public policy from New York University Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service, where she focused on studying development policy for information communication technology for development (ICT4D).

She interned at the United Nations ICT Task Force in summer 2006, and this experience furthered her interest in this topic. Prior to graduate study, she worked as a computer programmer for an IT service company in Seoul, Korea. She received her BA with dual major in education and sociology from Yonsei University in Seoul, and attended Assumption University in Bangkok for two semesters as a transfer student in her sophomore year.

Julia is volunteering with eHomemakers, an innovative grassroots organization that uses ICT as a tool for improving the lives of women homemakers in Malaysia. In particular, she will help the organization prepare for the upcoming World Summit on Information Society (WSIS), drafting and editing position papers and assisting planning for panel sessions.

The work will highlight eHomemakers’ projects, including Salaam Wanita, which seek to empower disadvantaged women by providing them with opportunities for training, business and networking via the Internet.

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