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New group TEN to put tech to work for global development

The Technology Empowerment Network, a new organization aimed at fostering global development through information technology, is scheduled to launch next week.

A new organization aimed at fostering global development through information technology is scheduled to launch next week.

The international organization, called the Technology Empowerment Network, or TEN, will be unveiled Jan. 30 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Corporate backers include Abacus Software, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, iGate Capital and Sapiens International.

Among others serving on the group's advisory board are former ICANN chairwoman Esther Dyson; Carlos Primo Braga, manager of the World Bank's Information for Development Program; and venture capitalist Dr.Yossi Vardi, an early backer of the ICQ instant messaging service.

The organization, which will select a limited number of projects to sponsor per year, will choose projects based on the quality of the mission and the impact it will have on the world. Projects must involve information technology. Specifically, TEN will support initiatives that use technology to improve health, education and economic growth in underdeveloped communities.

Aside from financial help, TEN's objective is "to build a large global network of individuals and organizations that will support networks of high-potential projects with their skills and experience," according to its Web site. It also intends to foster collaborations among its projects as they're folded into the network.

Projects already on TEN's roster include Greenstar--which focuses on development challenges facing villages (such as some in Jamaica) that are off of the electric and telecommunication grids--and the African Digital Library, which provides e-books to any African resident.

The launch of this organization comes as tech leaders are gaining notice for philanthropic activities, including international efforts.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates, for example, has established the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and donated a generous $5 billion in 2000 to the philanthropic endeavor. In November, the foundation said it would donate $5 million to help give the more than 300 public libraries in Chile computers, Internet access and training.