Kopernik (organization)

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Kopernik Global Logo
Founded 2010
Founder Toshihiro Nakamura, Ewa Wojkowska
Type Non-governmental organization
Area served
24 countries
Mission connect simple technology with last mile communities to reduce poverty
Website kopernik.info

Kopernik is a non-profit organization headquartered in Indonesia that distributes low-cost technologies to recipients in less-developed countries using crowdfunding. In the US, it is a registered 501(c) organization.[1]


Kopernik was co-founded by Toshihiro (Toshi) Nakamura and Ewa Wojkowska. Both had worked for the United Nations – Nakamura in Timor-Leste, Indonesia, Sierra Leone and the US and Wojkowska in Timor-Leste, Indonesia, Sierra Leone, Thailand and New York.[2]

The organization is named for the astronomer Copernicus.[3]

Operations and funding[edit]

The organization consists of four legal entities. Kopernik Global, responsible for general strategy, is registered as Kopernik Solutions in New York State; Yayasan Kopernik operates in Indonesia as a government-registered foundation; PT Kopernik, a company based in Indonesia, provides consulting and advisory services and assists imports and exports there; and Kopernik Japan, registered in Japan as a General Incorporated Association, contributes consulting and advisory services and conducts fund-raising.[4]

Donations are distributed by local non-governmental organizations (NGOs). An NGO must be registered and submit an application to Kopernik that outlines its goals and distribution methods. Following approval, proposals are posted on the website and prospective donors may choose among them.[5]

The distributed products include LifeStraw, which filters and purifies drinking water; Solvatten, which purifies and heats water using solar power; solar lanterns; and adjustable-focus eyeglasses. [5] The eyeglasses, based on a design by Joshua Silver, can be adjusted by users to address vision problems without consulting optometrists, who are in short supply in many areas.[6] Other offered technologies include rolling water drums and drip irrigation systems.[7]

Because the distribution operations are often conducted by groups of women, they have been compared to the operations of Tupperware and Avon Products.[3]

Tech Kiosks are family-run small shops (warung) that sell simple technologies alongside a wide range of everyday goods. Tech Kiosk owners receive technology stock on consignment. When they sell technologies they earn a commission, return the cost of inventory to Kopernik, and order more of the technologies most in demand. As of March 2014, the organization had 42 Tech Kiosks in Bali, Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan and East Nusa Tenggara.

Corporate funding has come from Exxon-Mobile, the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, and the Daiwa Corporation.[8]

The organization has received awards, including runner-up status in Crunchie’s 2010 CleanTech category and a Gold-level transparency designation from the non-profit evaluation organization GuideStar.[9][8]


External links[edit]

Official website