Camara is a non-profit international organisation dedicated to using technology to improve education and livelihood skills in disadvantaged communities around the world. With better education they expect these communities to break the cycle of poverty they find themselves in.
Founded in 2005 in Dublin, Ireland, Camara has built a proven model of ‘education delivery’ that is both sustainable and highly scalable. Almost 1 million children in poor communities have been made digitally literate by Camara over this period.
To do this, Camara has provided eLearning Centres to over 2,000 schools in Africa, Ireland and the Caribbean, installed over 40,000 computers and trained over 11,000 teachers how to use the technology for learning purposes.
Camara is a registered charity in the US, Ireland and the UK. It currently operates seven Education Hubs in Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Zambia, Uganda, Lesotho, Tanzania) and one in Jamaica, Haiti and Ireland. All Camara Hubs operate as social enterprises and are financially sustainable after one year.
The organization’s impact
Sharing practical employment skills – Significant transfer of skills takes place through the volunteer programmes; this has improved volunteer’s skill-sets and employability. Camara serves educational institutes in the area in which it has established education hubs and sub-hubs. They have criteria for those educational institutes they do not serve; however, it is not common for them to approach Camara but rather to purchase new technology. In most Camara countries, the vast majority of schools are labelled as disadvantaged. Camara focuses on the most disadvantaged schools that have electricity and the financial resources required.
The environment through the reuse of technology – Camara regards environmental protection as an integral and essential part of good business practice. They are committed to achieving and maintaining a high standard of environmental quality in all of the operations, to the protection of health and the environment, and are determined to minimise any adverse impacts as a result of the activities.
Camara’s Social Enterprise Model
Camara Education operates as a social enterprise and thus generates a significant proportion of its own revenue. Schools are charged for Camara services at a heavily subsidised price, in order to make them more affordable for those in the most disadvantaged areas. Income from the sale of computers, recycling and provision of services only partly covers the costs. Camara still relies on external funding to make up the deficit and most importantly to enable us to reach the three strategic goals ‘prove, improve and scale’.
The Camara network consists of Education Hubs, which are independent local entities responsible for the front-line delivery of the Camara model to educational institutes within their respective countries. There are currently six Education Hubs in Africa (located in Kenya, Lesotho, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Ethiopia), one Education Hub in the Caribbean (located in Haiti) and one Education Hub in Ireland. The ultimate governance and decision making authority of the Hubs are the local boards. The Chair of these boards in developing hubs is a direct employee of Camara Education Ltd.