Illuminating Futures Across Africa


In 2019, in partnership with a local internet service provider (ISP) Poa Internet, Taara launched an affordable home broadband service at a fraction of the market price in a dense periurban community called Pipeline in Kenya. The Taara team came to understand  that abundant broadband incentivized people to resell their internet connection with others in their community, a win-win for all because people selling their internet connection could earn extra income by sharing their existing connection with 10 other people meaning 10x more people in the community who previously could not afford the ISP’s prices could buy in smaller amounts from their neighbors, and the ISP could grow their subscriber base at low acquisition costs and expand their network deep into the communities. Taara focused on expanding this consumer behavior to foster a fair and equitable marketplace in which everyone involved would be incentivized to connect more people.

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In 2020, Taara partnered with Teledata, a local ISP in Ghana, to launch service in a community called Nima, this time with tools and services that enable small businesses to set up their existing street storefronts as outdoor Wi-Fi hotspots for their customers. We signed up around 60 local businesses and witnessed each of them effectively bring online tens, sometimes hundreds of more people, offering data bundles on a pay as you go basis to make broadband internet truly accessible for thousands of people. Creative entrepreneurs could now stitch together their ad hoc private broadband network nodes into a very cost effective solution for 10x more end users than the local ISP could reach on its own.

Within months, residents of Nima were requesting to enjoy broadband in their homes.  Teledata then enabled the same small businesses to sell an unlimited, fixed broadband service for people to use in the comfort of their homes. As the solution involved individuals from the community acting as entrepreneurs to distribute bandwidth, we were able to build a partnership between Teledata and Kiva, a global nonprofit with a mission to help underserved communities thrive by expanding financial access. Specifically, Kiva unlocks capital for borrowers through crowdfunded loans from individuals around the world. In May 2022, Kiva began onboarding the businesses and entrepreneurs working with Teledata onto Kiva’s global platform, gaining them access to the capital needed to extend connectivity in their neighborhood. With Kiva’s loans, Taara and Teledata equipped more people in the community of Nima with the tools and services they need to enjoy affordable and reliable internet both in public spaces and at home, while meeting thriving demand for many entrepreneurs to develop sustainable sources of income. Since then, more than 7,200 Kiva lenders around the world have lent over $220,000 for local internet resellers to finance additional WiFi access points and last-mile fiber to the home, lowering the cost of network buildout, customer acquisition, and distribution of high-speed internet in Nima.

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Learnings and next steps

Initial findings from this case study in Nima shows a healthy engagement of community members in expanding the last-mile broadband infrastructure. Internet resellers in the community tap into their established networks and use their local expertise to extend the reach of internet infrastructure into new markets and demographic segments. They leverage their trusted reputations to promote internet service effectively and efficiently, building brand awareness and trust with end customers. Overall, community engagement in the last-mile internet distribution model reduces the cost of new customer acquisition, improves customer experience, and offers valuable insights into local trends which inform the local ISP on important product development and marketing strategies.

Taara learned that scaling affordable broadband service in communities where last-mile networks previously didn’t exist requires tailoring the solution to the needs of the individual communities, in partnership with the local community members. By enabling local entrepreneurs and small businesses to resell right-sized, need-based data bundles to other members of their community, at prices more than ten times more affordable than alternative services in the community, Taara and Teledata have innovated access to affordable broadband service at a fraction of the market price. Taara, Teledata, and Kiva hope to build on the learnings while reflecting on the impact that they’ve been able to create today with more than 20K internet users, more than 500 homes, and more than 320 entrepreneurial internet resellers in Ghana. They are in talks to commission an independent study on the social impact of Taara as a next step in building tools for bridging the digital divide in Africa.