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Company grows out of schools Linux project

By   |  August 22, 2006

Based on the successes of the tuXlabs schools Linux project in South Africa, the team members have started a company to continue the work.

The new company, Inkululeku, will provide services to existing tuXlabs schools as well as look to perform new installations.

The tuXlabs programme, started by the Shuttleworth Foundation, has installed Linux-based computer laboratories in approximately 200 schools across South Africa.

With the Shuttleworth Foundation commitment to tuXlabs nearing its end earlier this year, the team was looking for a way to continue the work and allow the foundation to exit as the primary sponsor of the project, says Inkululeku director and tuXlabs founder Hilton Theunissen.

He says the team approached the foundation to assist in creating a company to continue the work of the programme and perform ongoing support for the schools they had installed to date.

Theunissen says the company will be looking to commercialise the tuXlabs project to ensure the company is sustainable as well as provide services to the Foundation and other external companies.

Zelda Holtzman, CEO of Shuttleworth Foundation says “the Foundation’s main goal is to invest in projects that drive innovation in education and, given the success of tuXlabs, we strongly believe that this is a model the Education Department is able to adopt for implementation in South African schools. Over the past years we have seen numerous organic replication projects both locally and internationally.

“Given the scope of the project, the Foundation decided to reward the tuXlab team with the remaining funding to continue with their work, applying their passion and creativity to drive the sustainability and growth of the project through the formation of a company.”

Theunissen says tuXlabs is more than just software and hardware. “During the project we were able to develop a complete seven-step project management cycle for the establishment of a sustainable ICT programme, built on the application of the open source philosophy. The added bonus is that the model can be replicated in any ICT community centre or social entrepreneurship project.”

“Its not often that employees are given such an opportunity,” he says. “The Foundation recognised our passion and decided on a great exit strategy for the project to ensure that the educational institutions involved continue to get support.”

Shareholding of the new company will be shared by the former members of the tuXlabs project. Theunissen, who holds a majority stake, says 50% of his shareholding will be allocated to creating a trust in the name of 200 existing Shuttleworth Foundation schools.”

Inkululeku is a Xhosa word for ‘freedom’.

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