One-line solution summary:
Internet content for those without Internet access
Pitch your solution.
4 billion people worldwide lack reliable Internet access - because of costs, lack of infrastructure, or outright censorship. In a technology-focused world, this severely impacts an individual’s access to education and better economic opportunities. This has been highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic, with schools in 100+ countries closed, affecting the education of nearly 1 billion children. Those with no Internet at home are unfairly falling behind all because they cannot get online.
Enter Kiwix: an offline platform bringing Internet content to those without Internet access. Kiwix can convert and read any web-based material (e.g the Wikipedia, MOOCs, etc.) for users to browse without the need for further Internet connectivity. The platform is device-agnostic and runs on Mobile, Desktop, or microserver-based Hotspot. If we are able to continue to scale our solution, we confidently believe that by 2025 we will reach 100 million users, for whom a digital education is otherwise inaccessible.
Film your elevator pitch.
What specific problem are you solving?
A lack of Internet connection means a whole world of digital tools become inaccessible. By providing an offline Internet, this circumvents the need for a stable Internet connection to access quality educational tools. This means our global userbase can being to close the digital divide between them and their online counterparts, and receive a decent education.
Kiwix is made to adapt to any environment and works on any device; providing a completely free, open-source, universal platform without needing an expensive device or data plan. We offer a variety of resources in over 50 languages to suit different ages and topics, and we are always looking to expand this to better serve our offline knowledge seekers.
We currently have around 4 million users (as a conservative estimate; due to the nature of offline we do not track our users after their initial download, which is the reason why many use Kiwix) in over 216 countries and territories.
What is your solution?
The Kiwix reader is available on mobile devices, desktop, and a low-cost single-board computer (e.g. Raspberry Pi) connecting up to 30 devices at a time.
Kiwix relies on the openZIM file format, a highly compressed format that allows for reading on the fly. Content can be viewed as if for a normal Internet browser, with a user experience similar to that of being connected.
Target websites are entirely archived - including all text, images, and videos - and condensed it to one easy-to-use file. This can then be stored and accessed locally without the need for an Internet connection.
Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?
Kiwix serves everyone and anyone in an offline environment seeking educational material. This has included universities in Sub-Saharan Africa, refugee camps in the Middle East, libraries in South-East Asia, schools in rural South America, and even prison education programmes in Europe and the U.S.
While the global need for Internet access is being increasingly recognised, it is not a short-term project to implement. While many countries state that Internet use is available, there are many cultural and social barriers prohibiting it from being freely available to all. For example, although the Cuban government has been working over the last decade to improve Internet distribution (with 35 government WiFi zones opened in main cities), many can still not afford the data packages on offer. Thus, the preferred option for many is to purchase software packages at national Computer Clubs and locally distribute these among their communities. For this reason the name “Kiwix” is widely known across the island of Cuba as one of the most popular packages.
It is noteworthy that connectivity issues still plague developed countries, which has come to the fore during the COVID-19 pandemic; the UK Department for Education delivered 54,000 4G routers to low-income families who were struggling with home learning due to a lack of Internet access. If this is the situation in a country with the 4th highest global GDP, it raises a huge concern for lower-income countries for whom similar initiatives are not possible. To combat this, Kiwix offers a solution of self-efficacy. Users can take what they have available now to start joining the digital economy in a reliable, affordable way, without having to wait for government intervention or large-scale technological advancement.
We are able to break into such low-connectivity environments mainly through partnering with on-the-ground organisations. They truly know the community and their needs. This means that deployment can be scaled while still being suited to the need of the populations our partners serve. Therefore, we can focus on making Kiwix the best it can be, while knowing that work to distribute it well is ongoing and effective.
Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?Provide low-income, remote, and refugee communities access to digital infrastructure and safe, affordable internet.
Explain how the problem you are addressing, the solution you have designed, and the population you are serving align with the Challenge.
The problem: our current model of the Internet is not inclusive. Any efforts to improve our Internet resources still leave out 4 billion people for whom the Internet is still inaccessible, who could be contributing to our global economy.
Our solution: we address Internet unavailability by offering software which does not need an online connection to access online information. Kiwix is free and adaptable to any device or educational content.
The population we serve: anyone who is missing out on educational, economic, and social opportunities because of their lack of Internet connection, and provides an affordable and sustainable solution.
In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?Lausanne, Switzerland
What is your solution’s stage of development?Scale: A sustainable enterprise working in several communities or countries that is looking to scale significantly, focusing on increased efficiency.
Explain why you selected this stage of development for your solution.
Since being founded in 2017, Kiwix quickly built to 1 million users worldwide on the initial Android and Desktop formats.
By 2019, we had founded our partnership with the Wikimedia Foundation, been selected in the Global Good 100, and as a Top 100 Innovator by HundrEd, and won the Mozilla Open Source Support award. We also rolled out the Kiwix installer for Raspberry hotspot and reached 3 million users worldwide. Our business model distinguishes between end users and clients, the latter usually being NGOs running the actual field deployments.
We are building on what we have learned over the previous 4 years and rolling out wider deployment of Kiwix with more specialised technology. It is through this scaling that we are aiming to reach 100 million users worldwide by 2025, with 60% via hotspots/server distribution, 20% on Android, and 10% on Desktop, and 10% through other miscs. (e.g. iOS, KaiOS).
Who is the Team Lead for your solution?
Which of the following categories best describes your solution?A new application of an existing technology
What makes your solution innovative?
Kiwix takes a problem of lacking (Internet resources), and the tools already at the community's disposal (any smartphone, computer, or tablet) to provide a solution. It relies on its ability to compress very large amounts of data and condenses them into packages that are easy to share and consume in low connectivity settings.
Kiwix thus creates an opportunity for all, as it can scale easily. For example, for Kiwix Hostpot, each low-cost single-board computer that is used can serve up to 30 people at no additional cost than the initial 100 USD purchase. As it is most often deployed in community centres, the project also offers the social benefit of bringing the community together to share in a resource which ultimately results in large-scale economic advancement; as better learning resources increase, so do employment and education opportunities. Similarly, for Kiwix desktop, content is often distributed locally (through USB or other storage devices) for a small fee. Therefore, Kiwix not only provides the opportunity for the free distribution of information, but also for an entrepreneurial spirit to be fostered through doing so.
Moreover, this project offers a self-sustaining, inclusive solution; the community learns how to use and choose the tools it needs to help itself, rather than depending on passively receiving external assistance.
Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:
Select the key characteristics of your target population.
Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?
In which countries do you currently operate?
In which countries will you be operating within the next year?
How many people does your solution currently serve? How many will it serve in one year? In five years?
Kiwix is currently serving circa 4 million users in 216 countries and territories. This is most likely a conservative estimate, as we cannot track users after their initial point of download, and, in fact, this is the very reason why some users find Kiwix so helpful; they do not need to sustain an Internet connection to access our content.
We predict that we will reach 6-8 million users by the end of 2021, and our current model shows us as being on track to achieve 100 million users by 2025.
How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?
Our impact is measured through the SMART framework:
- Specific: We have identified key areas of need for improvement in the Kiwix platform and are actively searching for funding from sources who specifically target these topics (e.g education-related content).
- Measurable: We look at numbers of downloads and contents hosted, where these are most prevalent, and who this leaves out in the global offline figures.
- Achievable: Kiwix is easily scaled, adaptable, and has already impacted the lives of millions worldwide. We know that it is within our capabilities to continue to provide online information to offline communities.
- Relevant: Technology is advancing at an unprecedented rate, and while developed countries are continuing to get better tech, many are still missing out on basic access to resources. This has come to light more than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic when many children have had to be homeschooled with the limited digital resources accessible without an Internet connection.
- Time-bound: As mentioned above, we have a plan of projects and user expansion for the next 1-5 years.
We also align with SDG 4, to deliver on the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, in line with our user expansion goals.
What type of organization is your solution team?
How many people work on your solution team?
3 FTEs, 2 part-time, ad-hoc contractors as required for software development projects.
How long have you been working on your solution?
How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?
As a technology, Kiwix simply is the only content-agnostic solution to bringing Internet content to people without connectivity.
On the team side, just under half of Kiwix’s coders are located in the Global South (Mali, Ghana, India) and have hands-on experience with connectivity issues. Kiwix’s advisory committee is also comprised of five members representing its main areas of deployment (US, Africa, Middle-East, South-East Asia, South America) and are tasked with providing user and deployment input.
What is your approach to building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive leadership team?
The very purpose of Kiwix is for diversity and inclusion, and we are particularly working on developing more content available in more indigenous languages. We follow the Wikimedia Foundation’s non-discrimination practices, but do not devise our own. We pledge the contributor's covenant for all projects.
Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?Organizations (B2B)
Why are you applying to Solve?
Our reasons for applying are simple: we believe that Solve could help us further our cause greatly.
Kiwix's core mission fits perfectly with the aims for the Digital Inclusion challenge particularly; we are a technology solution which endeavours to include everyone in the digital economy, through the empowerment of education.
Furthermore, the supportive community of Solvers would be a huge benefit to the deployment and development of Kiwix. As a non-profit, our ultimate aim is to connect the unconnected and to ensure that our software satisfies the needs of those who are most lacking in Internet resources. To have expert advice (whether technical, administrative, communicative, or other) and greater funding opportunities would help us to streamline our processes and get our software where it needs to be more effectively, and sooner.
In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?
Please explain in more detail here.
We need Legal support for day-to-day operations with our prospective distributors, worldwide. Public relations should be easy considering that Kiwix is a beautiful story with large impact, but this takes time to build and as the saying goes we can either talk about things we do, or do them.
Last but not least we need support reaching out to potential field partners with connectivity issues and probably not aware of our solution.
What organizations would you like to partner with, and how would you like to partner with them?
With people on board who understand the technology behind Kiwix, and why this is so significant, will help us to improve the scale, deployment, and user experience of Kiwix. Looking particularly at existing partners and projects, Solver Code Nation's project to equip students in under-resourced schools with the skills needed to launch a career in tech is exactly the kind of initiative we would like to see Kiwix used in, but in an offline context.
Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The ASA Prize for Equitable Education? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.
No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if the prize funder is specifically interested in my solution
Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The Andan Prize for Innovation in Refugee Inclusion? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.
Yes, I wish to apply for this prize
Explain how you are qualified for this prize. How will your team use The Andan Prize for Innovation in Refugee Inclusion to advance your solution?
Kiwix Hotspot and Mobile are already being used in refugee camps all over the world, particularly the Zataari refugee camp in Jordan where teaching is informal and resources are limited. As a self-effecting solution, Kiwix allows refugees to take ownership over their own education while in a situation which otherwise offers little in opportunities for self-actualisation. Becoming formally entered into the schooling system in their receiving country is by no means a quick process, and refugee students miss out on key learning milestones in the meantime. As a mobile tool where no Internet connection is needed to browse thousands of content articles in over 100 languages means that, through Kiwix, students can truly take charge of their own education. We are currently seeking funding to create a specific content package of information which would be specifically targeted for our most prevalent refugee users. With the help of the Andan Foundation, we could ensure that essential online information is being deployed in the offline environments where it is most needed; Kiwix truly has the potential to be a tool for the social and economic inclusion of refugee learners.
Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The HP Prize for Advancing Digital Equity? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.
Yes, I wish to apply for this prize
Explain how you are qualified for this prize. How will your team use The HP Prize for Advancing Digital Equity to advance your solution?
At its core, the purpose of Kiwix is digital inclusion. We do not believe that an individual's access to resources (and by extension, education) should be limited by their lack of an Internet connection.
We offer content such as Wikipedia, MOOCs, TED talks and others which would otherwise be exclusively available online; in doing so, we are helping to bridge the digital divide for the 4 billion people globally who still live without Internet access. Having already helped a diverse range of communities (such as inhabitants of remote villages in the Andes mountains, library users in Indonesia, and university students in West Africa) making use of the variety of languages available on Kiwix, we pride ourselves on offering a resource which strives to bring equity to education.
By providing Internet content for an offline environment we can ensure that no one is left behind in gaining a digital education; and essential tool for a world that is developing an increasing dependence on technology for social advancement.
Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for the Innovation for Women Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.
No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if the prize funder is specifically interested in my solution