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Authors: Debora L Spar
Published by: Harvard Business Publishing
Originally published in: 2002
Version: 29 August 2002

Abstract

Describes the evolution of WorldSpace, the world's first major provider of digital radio service to the developing world. The brainchild of Noah Samara, an African-born, American-trained lawyer, WorldSpace has a dual commercial and social mission. Samara wants to address the problem of development by bringing 'information affluence' to the people of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Specifically, he wants to provide high-quality news, entertainment, and education content transmitted through a low-cost digital radio system. In less than a decade, Samara has achieved a great deal: he has raised over USD1 billion for the project, acquired the rights to a vast swathe of the world's digital radio spectrum, and launched two proprietary satellites. The question now is: can he combine his social objectives with a for-profit mission? And will the people of Africa, Asia, and Latin America want what WorldSpace is selling? The teaching purpose is to examine the development of the information market in Africa and to explore the issues involved in combining social and commercial objectives.

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Abstract

Describes the evolution of WorldSpace, the world's first major provider of digital radio service to the developing world. The brainchild of Noah Samara, an African-born, American-trained lawyer, WorldSpace has a dual commercial and social mission. Samara wants to address the problem of development by bringing 'information affluence' to the people of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Specifically, he wants to provide high-quality news, entertainment, and education content transmitted through a low-cost digital radio system. In less than a decade, Samara has achieved a great deal: he has raised over USD1 billion for the project, acquired the rights to a vast swathe of the world's digital radio spectrum, and launched two proprietary satellites. The question now is: can he combine his social objectives with a for-profit mission? And will the people of Africa, Asia, and Latin America want what WorldSpace is selling? The teaching purpose is to examine the development of the information market in Africa and to explore the issues involved in combining social and commercial objectives.

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