‘ICT´s have to be a tool for all the people’

Illustration of a smiling woman celebrating Sulá Batsú's 10 year anniversary

As soon as Kemly Camacho starts talking about her work, it’s clear to see how passionate she is. Now the General Coordinator, she was one of the founding members of workers’ cooperative and social enterprise Sulá Batsú in 2005.

Sulá Batsú is based in Costa Rica and works to strengthen Central American social enterprises, community networks and social movements.

Camacho began her working life in the private sector as a computer engineer but went on to study anthropology and is now a university lecturer in both subjects. ‘Since the beginning I felt that there was something to do with humanity which needed to be integrated into computer engineering,’ she explains. 

‘I always say to the computer engineering students that it's very close to social science – they don’t like the idea at the beginning, but really computers and informatics are crucial for society,’ says Camacho. ‘What’s happening in information and communication now depends a lot on computers and informatics.’

It’s these professionals who are developing the platforms for information and communication processes in the society. It’s very close to the social, it’s very close to what happens in development.’

Sulá Batsú has worked for a decade across and between a variety of areas, including information and communication technologies (ICTs) for development and the promotion of collaborative work and knowledge construction, the social economy and culture as an engine of social transformation. 

‘It’s impossible at this moment to imagine development without ICTs,’ she says, stressing that that the strength in technology is how you use it – not just the technology itself.  ‘I think ICTs have to be a tool for people to be really informed about the most important topics, the tool for people to know other experiences and practices and improve the way that they live.’

Looking at ICTs and us as consumers, or consumers of information, or as consumers of devices and gadgets… this kind of ICT and development is not what we promote.’

Camacho finds that Sulá Batsú is a place that allows innovative ideas to thrive, partly because, as an independent cooperative, they can work more independently of the agendas of multinational corporations and governments.

‘Something which Sulá Batsú, or this kind of organisation or enterprise, allows you is to explore – you don’t have any day similar to the other one; it’s an exploration space, it’s an experimental environment. You are always creating, developing ideas, sharing with your colleagues about new possibilities – I like that – that it’s a space where you learn a lot.’  

Find out more about Sulá Batsú here at the organisation’s website (www.sulabatsu.com). They also run Anacaonas (www.anacaonas.net), a knowledge platform focused on gender equality in Latin America, highlighting the importance of the gender perspective in efforts to reduce poverty, promote development and social justice. 

Sulá Batsú, along with BRIDGE, are one of the partners in the Global Open Knowledge Hub which had held an international workshop on partnerships for Open Knowledge at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) from 21-23 October. Watch a video recording from this event here at the IDS website

Find out more about Gender and ICTs here at the BRIDGE topic page.