Making non-profits more tech-savvy: GoodWeave serves as an example

Making non-profits more tech-savvy: GoodWeave serves as an example

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How (and why) should non-profits become more tech-savvy? GoodWeave offers an example of how a robust tech-based system can help an organization operate at scale.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi founded GoodWeave, a non-profit which inspects rug weavers in Afghanistan, India, and Nepal to ensure that factories are not employing child labor.  The organization works with 165 exporters, monitors nearly 3,500 factories and village “loom sheds” which adds up to almost 40,000 workers throughout South Asia.
So, how does a non-profit handle all that data?  The social sector has traditionally been slow adopters of technology; managing a regional supply chain so diverse and massive is a challenge, especially with just pen and paper — the most popular method.
Nina Smith, Executive Director of the US GoodWeave office in Washington, DC, agrees. “We’ve been slow to use technology in the field for a variety of reasons ranging from the fact that we work in places where internet access and technological expertise are lacking — to financial constraints.”
Internet.org just released a study this week that says only 40% of the world is connected to the Internet. The vast majority are still largely offline.  Working in rural areas with such limited access to the Internet means that local staff and workers are also new to the technology.
GoodWeave, adopted Filemaker, a subsidy of Apple, to manage its massive supply chain. When a factory is identified as free of child-labor, each rug is given a unique number– a code that is entered in its database and will help GoodWeave trace the rug back to that production facility.  
The inspections include 65 data points: i.e. who constitutes the workforce at that factory, the exporter’s name running the factory, the working conditions, etc.  All of this data, of course, needs to be kept private.  This year, GoodWeave plans on equipping their field staff with tablets to record this information, a big step up from the paper/pencil model.
The GoodWeave rugs each receive a label with the unique code for the non-profit’s tracking system and for customers to see, ensuring its origins.

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