Financial digital sustainability is not important


When something ELSE is present, that is.

Financial digital sustainability is not important /img/sustainability-ict4d.jpg

Here is something that is important for everybody. Something that will, no: must consume mountains of public spending in the coming years, worldwide, so it better be done properly.

“Build for Sustainability” is the fourth Principle for Digital Development, and is almost exclusively about financial sustainability. And “ICT4D” means “Information and Communication Technology for Development”. But here is a post that wonders whether something [is] “quite off with [the] over-emphasis on [financial] sustainability when it comes to ICT4D”.

The main argument, with which I completely agree, is that sustainable innovation should above all ensure that the innovative ideas that are financed continue to deliver impact over time, regardless of WHO delivers them. Regardless, that is, if the specific organization that first introduced the product or service shuts down for lack of money.

Viability, not Sustainability

The concrete consequence of the principle above, continues that post, is that, rather than to [long term] financial sustainability funding should be guaranteed to digital solutions that can show immediate, short term financial viability, which “simply means that the solution can demonstrate a clear path to existing on its own, independent of donor support. That could be in terms of commercial viability or as a public good”.

Besides, that kind of financial viability is fairly easy to assess from the beginning, whereas it is almost impossible to predict what technology solutions will actually be financially sustainable over the long-term.

What matters is that if a project achieves its goal, and then goes out of business because it is not financially sustainable, but it was done in such a way that someone else can step in to continue it and improve it, “that’s actually good for innovation and potentially for development as well”.

Well said. Remember this whenever you read about your tax money going to fund digital development. For more on the same topic, also read my own suggestion about what should happen when an organization dies.

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