|Chapter 7: Using Networks to Strengthen Telecenters
This focus on community building was central to the creation of such early telecenter networks as the Hungarian Telecottage Association (Magyar Teleház Szövetség). Founded in 1995, just a year after the first telecottage was established, the association is a civic organization seeking to organize people working in telecottages and support the establishment of new telecottages. From this foundation of community organizing, the association quickly grew to represent telecottages to other parties such as the central government or foreign bodies, establishing relationships with business partners and organizing cooperative projects with them, and working with them to organize network services. Over time, the association started to take on more formal roles such as lobbying for financial support, making applications (and further applications!), and operating the telecottages’ internal information system.
As the Hungarian movement evolved, the association was split into seven regions, each representing its own telecottages to the executive and implementing programs originating from the central office. These regional associations assist the development and operations of the telecottages with their education, mentoring, and monitoring apparatuses. There are now regional resource centers and an increasing strong system of internal, democratic processes.Through its work over the past decade with telecottage managers, the association has gained thorough knowledge of the capacity-building needs of telecenter managers and staff. Based on that experience, the association has been involved in transforming existing training material to meet the needs of other European countries.(4)
7.8. Case Study: UgaBYTES—Tech Support at Home and Abroad
If you are running a telecenter, you often need help with technical issues, business management practices, or accessing funding. Yet, in most countries, telecenters have not had easy access to people who can provide this kind of support. Networks provide a perfect platform for addressing this problem, with help desks to which people working in telecenters can turn for advice.