Rural Techpreneurs Changing their Communities with IEEE Smart Village

IEEE Computer Society Team
Published 08/31/2021
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Have you heard about the work being done by IEEE Smart Village? It’s an amazing initiative brought to life by IEEE members and volunteers from multiple disciplines to provide support for energy-impoverished communities across the globe. These volunteers lead activities ranging from technical solutions, educational development, vocational training, and operational support.

What’s more, the IEEE Computer Society is proud to be a sponsor, supporting their efforts to create a “world where all people enjoy equal access to electricity and education to grow opportunities and leverage change for themselves.” Continue reading to learn how IEEE Smart Village is changing communities through their unique three-pillar approach.


Tibetan child carrying solar panel

What is IEEE Smart Village?

IEEE Smart Village (ISV)  is an innovative initiative supporting the aspirations of remote, energy-impoverished communities. ISV provides comprehensive solutions delivered through its three pillars: renewable energy, community-based education, and entrepreneurial opportunities. IEEE Smart Village Committee council member, Cecilia Metra shares, “these pillars mean working toward a world where every single person has access to electricity along with education for developing opportunities and providing sources of income for marginalized communities.”



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3 Pillar Approach

Entrepreneurs funded by ISV openly collaborate to share experiences, success, and lessons learned for the growth of their community. In 2020, self-sustaining projects that integrated ISV’s three pillars impacted more than 400,000 people. These three pillars are:


ISV provides resources for renewable energy including seed-funding to local entrepreneurs to build electricity companies. All members of the community have an interest in the success of the company where profits are reinvested in community empowerment through learning opportunities and economic development.


ISV partners with Regis University and the Posner Center for International Development. These partnerships offer benefits through two complementary components. First, an opportunity to complete a Development Practice graduate certificate in holistic approaches to development knowledge and humanitarian engineering. This prepares engineers to apply best practices in their local communities. Second, vocational training provides students with a wide range of knowledge and skills to expand their ISV seed-funded utility projects.


Village people helping to install solar panel

Empowering local entrepreneurs is a unique goal of ISV, as these business owners will in turn  invest in the growth of their communities. The success of these energy businesses is based on the success of other local businesses utilizing power from the clean electricity company. It’s this symbiotic relationship that promotes the health and well-being of the community to further economic growth.



ISV Chair and IEEE Life Fellow, John Nelson, has enhanced the team of volunteers from around the globe to bring many projects to life with impressive results.

Since 2009, 87 projects have been funded in 18 countries. Most of these projects are still running to this day. Currently, projects are taking place in Cameroon, Ecuador (Galapagos),  Honduras, Nigeria, Kenya, the Navajo Nation, Uganda, and Vietnam. These micro-grid systems are powering learning institutions and health centers with clean energy. These are tantamount to these communities’ recovery in a post-pandemic world.

Other important applications of these projects are impacting additional sectors including water pumping, cold chain applications, aquaculture, micro-enterprise, and most recently, telehealth in Uganda and Kenya.


How You Can Get Involved

IEEE Smart Village projects come to life with the talent of passionate volunteers and funding. Both IEEE and the IEEE Foundation have worked to promote advances in technology for humanity, motivating its members to make donations, which are then transformed into these amazing community changing programs that reduce poverty around the world. IEEE Smart Village plays a fundamental role in achieving these goals.

We invite you to get involved and become an active participant in IEEE Smart Village!


Thank you to all of our members for their invaluable contributions and leadership in the field of computing, and their drive toward self-sustaining growth in energy-impoverished communities around the world.