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How are the Figures in Kopernik's Impact Snapshot Calculated?

TECHNOLOGIES DISTRIBUTED = The number of technologies which have been funded for distribution or consigned for sale. In rare instances, our tech distribution partners are unable to complete distribution of the technologies they have received. In this case, we make every effort to recover the technologies and redirect them to another project. If technologies have not been distributed and can not be recovered, we remove them from the count of technologies distributed in our Impact Snapshot. This has occurred in less than 2% of projects implemented to date.

PEOPLE SERVED = The number of technologies distributed multiplied by the average number of people who benefit from access to that technology. For example, we calculate that household-level technologies such as solar lights, water filters and clean cookstoves benefit five people, based on average family size. Meanwhile large water filters distributed to schools and emergency centres benefit 20 people on average, and clean birth kits benefit two people - mother and newborn baby.

COUNTRIES REACHED = the number of countries in which Kopernik has distributed technologies, through both donor-funded projects and consultancies.

PROJECTS FUNDED = The number of individual technology distribution projects funded by donors and consulting clients. Kopernik is committed to transparency, knowledge-sharing, and illuminating the development process. Complete details of all crowdfunded projects, including budget breakdowns and project reports, are published on our website. Some ongoing initiatives and consulting projects are not listed on our website, as the activities go beyond technology distribution and do not easily fit into our standard project format.

How Kopernik's tech distribution projects work?

Kopernik sources technologies designed for the developing world. Remote communities can learn about available technologies in our online technology catalogue and can enquire about lodging a proposal for the most locally appropriate products by contacting us. After conducting successful due diligence on the partner organisation and the project proposal, Kopernik publishes the project on its website to raise funds through crowdfunding.

Individual donors fund the upfront cost of sending technologies to the project location by donating to the project of their choice. When the project is fully funded, Kopernik ships the technology to its tech distribution partners, who distribute it in local communities at a locally affordable price, paying in full or in installments.

Kopernik’s tech distribution partners repay a percentage of the money from their technology sales to Kopernik. It is then reinvested in more technologies for the last mile. The impact of the technology is assessed in cooperation with the tech distribution partners and shared with technology producers, so they can continue to make the best technology for the developing world.

Who started Kopernik?

Toshi Nakamura and Ewa Wojkowska founded Kopernik after seeing that life-changing and affordable technologies existed, but they weren’t reaching the people who lived in the ‘last mile’. They wanted to bridge the gap, and left a decade of service with the United Nations to launch Kopernik in 2010.

What does Kopernik mean?

Kopernik, pronounced ko.per.nik is Nicolaus Copernicus’ Polish name. Our namesake changed the way people see the world. Like Copernicus, we want Kopernik to be a catalyst for change.

What does Kopernik do?

Kopernik connects simple, life-changing technology with the people who need it the most. We balance a philanthropic and business approach to distributing technology. Our donors fund the upfront costs of introducing technologies and creating micro-business opportunities in remote communities. The money raised from product sales is reinvested in more technology for the last mile.

Where in the world does Kopernik work?

To date, Kopernik has connected technologies with last mile communities in 16 countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the Caribbean. 

Since our launch we have received an incredible number of technology requests from organisations in Asia. We have found that we have been able to fund projects in this region the fastest, while it has taken longer for our projects outside of Asia to reach full funding. Reflecting on this, we are currently only considering proposals for Asia-based tech distribution projects. However, we will continue our Last Mile Consulting activities for corporations, aid agencies and foundations in all regions.

We are committed to best serving the needs of people in the last mile, and ensuring that the money raised through our website is used efficiently and effectively. This shift in crowdfunding focus to Asia will allow us to fully fund more projects faster, meaning that the donations we receive can be put to use sooner, and our life-changing technologies can reach more people most in need.

How does Kopernik know that the technology for our tech distribution projects is having a positive impact? How does Kopernik measure its impact?

Rigorous testing, feedback mechanisms and impact assessments are essential to Kopernik’s success, because the technology we distribute must be effective and have a positive impact on people’s lives.

Central to our philosophy: we view the poor communities we work with as our customers and we want them to be satisfied. This means regularly asking for their feedback and rating of the technology, which we then share - be it good, or bad - via our website.

Through our Kopernik Fellows program and partnerships with leading research institutions (including Columbia University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Thunderbird School of Management, Keio University and IDE-JETRO), we have collected and analysed data across a significant number of our projects that demonstrates that technology is having a positive impact on people’s lives. Specific results include raising income, saving money on fuel for lighting and cooking, saving time (collecting water or firewood, for example), and improving health by reducing exposure to smoke from inefficient cookstoves and kerosene lighting.

Why technology? And can poor people really afford to pay for this technology?

Simple, innovative technology is life-changing for last mile communities. Clean, fuel-efficient cookstoves lead to a reduction of indoor air pollution and deforestation; solar lights replace the need for dirty and dangerous kerosene. Technology also creates a positive economic impact - for example, saving on fuel expenses or creating opportunities to earn more income.

We overcome supply chain issues by involving tech distribution partners, and address sustainability by encouraging tech distribution partners to devise locally appropriate pricing and payment mechanisms. This may take the form of:

  • Selling the products at a locally appropriate price, with a locally appropriate payment scheme
  • Product rental
  • Developing a lease to buy system

In certain cases we do distribute technology for free, for example when responding to natural disasters, or supporting public clinics or schools.

Where does Kopernik’s funding come from?

Our funding sources are diverse and come from:

  • Donations made by individuals directly to our projects
  • Funds donated by funding partners such as corporations or foundations
  • Revenue from our Last Mile Consulting service
  • Revenue from technology sales to Kopernik supporters through our flagship Tech Kiosk in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

Where do Kopernik’s funds go?

Our funding supports projects focused on simple solutions that reduce poverty. We are completely transparent about how we spend donor funds and publish an itemised budget for every project we crowdfund. We are proud to carry the highest Guidestar acknowledgement for transparency - the Guidestar Exchange Gold seal.