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FIRST LIGHT: Lighting for Literacy has sent its solar-powered lighting units to schools in Zambia (left), in addition to supplying them to houses in the remote community of Colonet, Mexico (right). Photo courtesy of Lighting for Literacy

Going Beyond

While Salem and Padgett are both working to adapt Silicon Valley technology for the developing world, Wolf Price, founder of Beyond the Four Walls, is trying to replicate Silicon Valley abroad.

As a filmmaker and photographer Price started traveling the world 10 years ago at the age of 17, in search of adventure and material for his work. He found his way to Nepal and was at once impressed by the efforts of foreign aid workers and disturbed by the living conditions for women and girls. "Nepal is one of the worst countries in the world to be a woman," he says. "From childhood, the girl has to clean her brother's clothes, take care of the men in the family. The boys play, and the girls are working in the house as domestic servants."

Price adds: "Every year, women and girls are being trafficked into India, and Nepal is the place that fuels the red light districts."

To elevate the status of women and girls in Nepal, Price, who grew up in Palo Alto, has imported bits of Silicon Valley culture to give them a leg up in the STEM fields. He opened two hacker centers—one in a desert region in the southeast and another in Bhaktapur, outside the capital of Kathmandu—to provide free computers, Internet and workspace to girls, and also provides tuition assistance and start-up funding.

"I'm really confident that if I take the top students in their class and train them in start-up culture, make them read Steve Jobs' biography, then I can inspire them to be the next Mark Zuckerberg," Price says. "If we give women a way to have more knowledge than the people around them, then we can change how they're seen in society pretty quickly."

For now, Price is operating on a shoestring budget with funds he raised from corporate donations and a partnership with American Apparel, in which all the proceeds from a specially designed Beyond the Four Walls t-shirt go directly to the organization. Artist Trina Merry used the image of a temple in a piece she created in order to bring awareness to the organization, and help raise funds. Merry and her team of artists, models and assistants will teach marketing and entrepreneurial skills in a visit this fall to the Nepal hacker centers.

Price is also looking to crowd funding and angel investors in California to help him reach his goal of raising $1 million dollars—an amount he says is enough to fund all of the programs he has in mind, and to convince Nepalese families that investing in girls' education in the STEM fields is a good idea.

"I'm from Silicon Valley, so I'm passionate about bringing this plentiful thing that we have—technology," says Price. "There's unlimited potential now because the older generation is fading away and a new generation can lead the way for poverty alleviation and women's empowerment. We're doing it, and we're leading the way to show how viable this is."

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