Rob Katz

Building Broadband to Rural Sri Lanka

In May 2007 the Synergy Strategies Group (SSG) opened the first EasySeva Centers and is on track to open a total of 25 Centers by the end of September. SSG has undertaken a new and highly innovative approach in expanding broadband rural access across Sri Lanka. This project is one of nearly 30 projects that have been supported through the Agency for International Development’s (USAID’s) Last Mile Initiative (LMI). These are currently at various stages of implementation, with the LMI project in Sri Lanka now coming on line.

SSG is taking a private sector approach with each EasySeva Center being owned by a local entrepreneur who is part of a national franchise. In return for franchise fees, the franchise provides bulk purchasing, training, technical and marketing support. The franchise also provides entrepreneurs access to micro-finance and leasing services through Sri Lankan financial institutions. Each of the EasySeva Centers is serviced with broadband Internet provided via a range of wireless technologies, and is equipped with PCs and printers, VoIP phones, pre-paid community phones, and offering a range of services beyond communications to include training, content on a range of topics and micro-finance services.In order to offer a compelling business opportunity to entrepreneurs, SSG has partnered with a rich set of companies, including Dialog Telekom, Qualcomm, National Development Bank, Lanka Orix (LOLC) and Microsoft. Together, these alliance partners have contributed funding, technology and know-how to the project.

Having demonstrated the effectiveness of the EasySeva model, SSG is now focusing future efforts on seeking private investment capital to bring the model to scale across Sri Lanka and South Asia.

The case study posted at SSG’s website reflects the new and creative approach for leveraging rich partnerships to create a sustainable model for locally-owned and operated EasySeva Centers.