Project Details

Two girls working on computers


Using technology to fight poverty and stimulate entrepreneurship.

By CDI Global

Project URL:
Project Twitter: @ongCDI

One To Watch
  • Education
  • Social Exclusion
  • Mobile
  • Social Software

Donna Rosa, as she is known, is a pillar of her community, the long-established favela of Monkey Hill in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Over 20 years she has built up a series of community facilities, from child care to health, education and job training. Her aim is to provide people with a sense of purpose, structure and hope in a favela where drug gangs rule the roost. “The only thing that is as powerful as drugs in attracting young people is technology,” she says.

That is why when Donna Rosa heard the story of a mad young man who walked into a nearby favela with some second-hand computers to set up a training programme for young people, she left her home to seek him out.

The man was Rodrigo Baggio. He went on to create CDI, which has become one of the most significant social enterprises in Latin America, training close on 90,000 people a year in community-run computer centres.

Inspired by the teachers of radical pedagog Paulo Friere, CDI focuses on how people can help themselves by learning to use technology to tackle immediate issues in their daily life. It’s a practical, down-to-earth approach, helping people to get jobs or to learn useful skills. Many of those who now work on the programme were themselves early trainees.

From those humble beginnings CDI has spawned a family of sister organisations across Latin America and beyond: its programmes are in more than 800 centres in 13 countries.

But unlike many social organisations CDI has managed to carry on innovating. In 2010 social entrepreneur Iris Lapinski adapted the CDI model for the UK, turning it into a programme for young people to design mobile, social and web apps to solve problems that matter to them. Apps for Good started in two centres in 2010 and by 2013 more than 20,000 students in more than 220 schools were enrolled in the programme across the UK. Through Apps for Good’s expanding online platform – it just won a Google Global Impact Award – it’s likely that what started with a few computers in a favela in Brazil will become a programme with global reach.

Image courtesy of CDI

Last updated: 09th of May, 2014

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