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March 18, 2010

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Review from Guidestar
March 18, 2010

I worked as a US contractor in Iraq for a number of years. Although Wired did attempt to establish a presence in Iraq, their claims (which remain on their website) of having any working sites there are greatly exaggerated. At best, they installed some outdated computer equipment that regularly crashed, and they provided no sustainability, leaving those of us who actually stayed in the country facing the anger of medical students and doctors in numerous locations. Furthermore, they attempted to use their connections with the Bush Administration to divert funds from primary care programs for Iraqi women and children to support complex and expensive telecommunications systems that they had promised to the Iraqi government and failed to deliver on. The USAID country director was able to stop them, but it resulted in a major hit on her career. Bottom line is well meaning, but misguided techie folks with no understanding of how to implement development projects in poor countries. Negative impact on other US NGOs is a big minus to any pluses they may bring. Minus two starts for that. Also, for a techie non-profit, you would think that they would update their website to reflect reality now and then. Self hype is another star loser.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Iraq, Kosovo.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Get some experience in sustainable development, and take the false claims about what you did down. Get an outside reviewer to give you an ethics assessment. Tone down the bios to reflect reality. You don't have the Gates Board. Don't make them seem so.

More feedback...

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

knew their telecommunications equipment. Didn't care to learn about the customers or country.

Ways to make it better...

They had not come in on two week tourist visits with the attitude of "we know it all," and had actually spent some time with people who stayed on the ground the whole time.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

what to do when the computers break and you are already gone from the country, and getting something newer out to the developing world than discarded versions of PCs.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2008

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