Our friends at USAid have a target of reaching 100,000 mobile money users. We are now talking about numbers and timelines, and this week, our team in Afghanistan is meeting with USAid to define details and goals.
Here is Film Annex's vision: Film Annex is building 40 INTERNET classrooms in Afghanistan for 160,000 Afghan students, but we know we can expand these numbers to 1,000 schools and 4 million students.
Those are big numbers, but how can we scale the project? “No Politics, Just Internet” is a global concept; it's in our hearts and minds to build one classroom for each of the 1,000 schools in Afghanistan and connect millions of students, but the reality is that we are starting with 40 schools for 160,000 students. We will increase this number when we can implement a complete business model that allows to expand the Film Annex sponsorship, including additional sponsors, partners, and ad-networks.
As you might know, Film Annex's budget now is $15,000 per month to build classrooms, plus the cost of Examer development, bandwidth costs, and film production and distribution of the project. The micro scholarships are an additional cost, and we are budgeting through their implementation step by step.
But what is a Micro Scholarships and a Mobile Payment?
The whole concept is based on the Citadel software called Examer and its connectivity to thousands of children and teachers. This system allows Film Annex to reward the best students on specific subjects. Film Annex will start with a small budget, which will later grow into larger sums once we see the quality of work created by the students. We will then add other sponsors and investors to the projects.
The Film Annex and Citadel schedule is:
- Install Examer online and test it for the students and teachers.
- Link Examer to Film Annex's database and monitor the best performing students and reward their families with Mobile Payments.
- Test a starting budget (for example, 500 best tests/winners at $1/test) and grow the budget from there accordingly via Examer/mobile money system performance).
- Grow to a few thousands of dollars a month in Micro Scholarships, focused on the best performers.
- Develop the social media curriculum along with the platform.
The big investment here is to tune the relationship between:
- Infrastructure: building schools in Afghanistan with INTERNET classrooms.
- Management of the INTERNET classrooms (make sure Afghanistan's educational system and the schools are OK to use Examer and are comfortable with micro scholarships).
- Curriculum (make sure Afghanistan's educational system and schools are comfortable with a social media curriculum.
- Test Micro Scholarships and Mobile Payments and make sure people do not cheat and abuse the system.
- Expand the sponsors from Film Annex to 20 more companies and organizations, possibly in Social and Digital Media.
- Expand the Afghan school network from 5 to 20 to 40 to 400 to 1000 schools.
- Hire high school students as bloggers and programmers for Film Annex, Citadel and other start-up projects, the new Economy of Afghanistan.
- Quantify success stories through our Film Annex Buzz system.
- Expand the system to other developing countries so they can learn from Afghanistan.
As I said in the beginning, Film Annex is building 40 INTERNET classrooms, for 160,000 students but we know we can expand to 1,000 schools and 4 million students.
Linking Afghanistan's Education to social media and mobile payments is the key to our success, but we need to create a well functioning machine where money comes in from one end while the social media and programming students come from the other.
"We are looking for the inventors and creators of the Facebooks and the Googles of the future and we know they are somewhere in the schools in Afghanistan. Perhaps, they're 10-12 years old and not aware of their incredible potential yet, but we will give them the tools to change the world!”
Film Annex Afghanistan Operations are managed by C.E.O. Roya Mahboob and the IT expert and software developer Fereshteh Forough, two unique minds leading the path of the Afghanistan Entrepreneurship and Technology development.