The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals have resulted in the creation of a partnership between BØRNEfonden (The Children and Youth Foundation) and tech company BLUETOWN. The parties will partner to spread internet access in Burkina Faso, says Bolette Christensen, CEO at BØRNEfonden.
Sustainability in the world’s poorest societies requires more than access to water and basic education. If we are to fulfil the 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, we need digital transformation and partnerships to move poor societies forward.
A new partnership
For this reason, BØRNEfonden has recently established a partnership with the Danish tech company BLUETOWN. The purpose is to spread internet access, starting in Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries in the world, and in the long term aid children, youngsters and their teachers in several African countries. The new partnership holds exciting potential for improving learning and knowledge levels in vulnerable parts of Africa.
When new actors partner across sectors to develop the world in a more sustainable direction, such as BØRNEfonden and BLUETOWN, we must prepare ourselves for the fact that such partnerships are time consuming and demand very different competencies of all of us. It is truly novel. Partnerships across sectors take time and demand both compassion, situational understanding and tolerance.
It equates a marriage. It is difficult to foresee exactly what you go into, and it is impossible to fully understand your partners’ strengths and weaknesses. You take a risk, but with a firm believe that the outcome will be a happy one for both parties – and for sustainability – if the will and, of course, the benefits are present. This understanding is necessary in partnerships: You must be willing to take a risk, you must have respect for your partner’s distinct role and competencies, and most importantly, you must invest time.
For mutual benefit
This is precisely what BLUETOWN and BØRNEfonden have started. In short, the idea behind the partnership is that BLUETOWN will provide internet access through their customized technology, while BØRNEfonden provides educational knowhow and insight into local school systems, which benefits pupils and teachers in the areas BØRNEfonden operate. The parties agree to partner on a large project, which supports a national strategy for internet access in Burkina Faso.
BØRNEfonden’s local staff will be involved in the projects, which, among other things, entail installing internet masts for local BLUETOWN hotspot. When BØRNEfonden’s project- and program staff have acquired BLUETOWN’s internet expertise, it will be spread in the local communities. Conversely, BLUETOWN will obtain BØRNEfonden’s knowledge on school projects, and both parties will benefit from each other’s local contacts. When the project has been established in Burkina Faso, the method can be expanded to other African countries, beginning with Benin in West Africa, and help create business and sustainability.
The partnership between BØRNEfonden and BLUETOWN is an example of how a private company and an NGO can work together to make vulnerable societies sustainable. To the company BLUETOWN, the vision is to spread internet access in underserved areas of the world where a lot of important knowledge is not easily attainable today, and to BØRNEfonden the partnership will help improve the conditions of children, youth and their teachers in remote areas with the use of modern technology.
The United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals have incited partnerships between companies and organization. Because partnerships – SDG17 – are a prerequisite to fulfil the goals by 2030.
*The following link is in Danish*