Ict@innovation: Free your IT Business in Africa/5

Module 5: FOSS Business Knowledge and Skills edit

Introduction edit

In essence, operating a FOSS business does not differ from operating any other business. The same basic principles do apply in terms of understanding user needs; project and product implementation; service delivery and support. There are however differences. It is often experienced by FOSS service providers, that potential clients are so used to (or locked in) to proprietary solutions, that challenges exist convincing potential clients of the value and merits of FOSS solutions. Furthermore, FOSS development harnesses the volunteer contributions of geographically distributed community of developers and users. This may mean that companies doing business in FOSS have to rethink and develop specific skills to deal with FOSS communities.

However, many FOSS users and potential clients are not technical savvies and simply want a complete solution. As demonstrated in Module, there is a need for business not to focus on the solution alone, but also educate their clients. Educating the client is more than just training [Module 6] or delivering/displaying documentation, but education in what the FOSS concept [Module 1] is all about. Thus, beyond community involvement, specific skills are also required by FOSS service providers to engage with potential and existing clients (some potential FOSS clients (eg. NGO, Governments) are discussed in Module 3), in order to be able to service these clients. This module leverages (your - the trainee) general business skills covered in Module 4 and applies them to discuss how FOSS business may be different from other types of businesses, community building and networking (as an extension of Module 1.3 on “Evolution of FOSS Communities and Software Markets”), strategies employed by FOSS businesses, and FOSS based innovation.

Learning Objectives edit

  1. To understand the main differences between running a FOSS business and running a proprietary software business, as well as non-software types of service businesses.
  2. Be familiar with the strategies of cooperation and coopetition that are typical for FOSS.
  3. Know the specific challenges in marketing FOSS, and how to overcome them.
  4. Have a basic understanding of the role of innovation in FOSS business.

Authors and Trainers: Pool of African ict@innovation expert trainers

Name Module Name
Module 5 FOSS Specific Business Knowledge and Skills Arnold Pietersen,

Derek Lakudzala,

Frederick Yeboah,

Kofi Kwarko,

Shirley Akasreku

More Trainers per country in full Pool of Trainers


Main contributors

Module 5 Sulayman K. Sowe (Facilitator), Foibe Kalipi, Thomas Jonas, Glenn McKnight, Nico Elema, Derek Lakudzala, Alex Gakuru

Additional material for Module 5: FOSS BUSINESS KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS (presentations, tests, evaluation forms, pool of trainers, derived material) is available online at:


Sessions and Timetable edit

The entire content in this module is estimated to be delivered in 1 day, with some variations within the modules. For instructional purpose, the content of this module can be delivered as proposed in the summarized table below.

9:00 – 10:30 Completion of Module 4
10:30 - 10:45 Coffee Break
10:45 - 12:15 * How is FOSS business different

12:15- 13:30 Lunch
13:30 - 15:00 * FOSS Communities
  • Competition, Cooperation Coopetion

15:00 - 15:15 Coffee Break
15:15 - 17:00 * Marketing FOSS
  • Service Management

Next day, where necessary
9:00 – 10:30 * Innovation in FOSS Business
  • End of Module Evaluation

10:30 - 10:45 Coffee Break and start of Module 6

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