Changing Focus

maddog's Doghouse

Article from Issue 197/2017

"maddog" provides an update on Project Cauã, with new focus on helping university students and small businesses.

Over the years ,I have written about Project Cauã [1], a project that I started more than 10 years ago. Project Cauã was first designed for Brazil, with its high-density cities but was always intended for spreading out to various parts of Latin America.

Project Cauã had many different business plans, all of which had various degrees of difficulty in getting started due to the use of hardware to leverage the plans. But, Project Cauã always had two main foci of generating jobs for people and making computers easier to use (not easy, just easier). While I am a staunch believer in Free and Open Source Software, I am also a pragmatist, and I realized that most business people use Microsoft or Apple products and that Project Cauã would have to address that issue.

In the past year, several people have been helping me change the focus of Project Cauã to one of helping university students afford university while gaining experience at running their own company and helping small and medium businesses utilize their computers better.

The Project Cauã Professionals (PCPs, as we call them) will become suppliers of front-line support, providing preventive maintenance so small business people can concentrate on running their business. The PCP will create a contract with five to six small businesses and work for them three to four hours each week making sure their computers are working properly. The PCP will therefore work about 24 hours a week, and the rest of the time they will be (hopefully) studying their university courses. Some students may spread their courses out over six years (instead of four) to maintain their grade levels, but since they are also running their own businesses working with computers, Project Cauã thinks this type of work is better than flipping hamburgers or waiting tables (typical jobs for university students).

While the main model of Project Cauã is for the student to be an independent business person, there are many liaisons that could also be formed with support companies who would like to have a local on-site person. Some of these support companies provide telephone support, but may have customers who do not work well with telephone support. Customers who employ a PCP might find a reduction in their support contracts with these companies, since the PCP might lower the time the support tech spends on the phone trying to eliminate the problem the customer is having.

Project Cauã will help the potential PCP learn how to run their company, how to apply for the proper licensing in their location, help with skeleton contracts, skeleton marketing brochures, determine their useful technical skills, and provide backup for "harder" technical problems, perhaps even sub-contracting issues to other PCPs with the necessary expertise.

One thing that was missing from all of the Project Cauã business plans until lately was the use of volunteer mentors to work with the PCPs, perhaps on a one-to-one level, to help make sure the PCP was successful. Mentors will come from the local business and technical community and will be people who have been successful in their own career – giving them a chance to "pay it back." As PCPs are successful in following the program, eventually they too will become mentors.

The structure of Project Cauã will be a top-level website that will be worldwide, which will explain general principles in multiple languages, followed by a second level that will concentrate on country issues, followed by a third level that will support local mentor groups that work with the individual PCPs.

All of the site will be available to be reviewed and studied by anyone. Anyone who wishes to ask questions will be able to create an account for free (to control users who might not act professionally), but there will be no charge for the login. People that wish to use the materials to create their own business will be free to do so.

To use the Project Cauã name and trademarks, however, a PCP will need to actually join Project Cauã, agree to follow a set of ethics and business practices, agree to a certain level of continuing education, and agree to general support of the project. There is no planned charge for this, although there may be charges for optional support mechanisms and products (professional insurance, group health plans, etc.) that will be made available to people reaching this level.

Project Cauã will be piloting in Ubatuba, Brazil for six months while the program is fine-tuned and evaluated, then piloted in several other cities around Brazil for another six months. In one year, Project Cauã will be opened up for other languages (particularly Spanish) and cultures (particularly Latin America).


  1. Project Cauã:

The Author

Jon "maddog" Hall is an author, educator, computer scientist, and free software pioneer who has been a passionate advocate for Linux since 1994 when he first met Linus Torvalds and facilitated the port of Linux to a 64-bit system. He serves as president of Linux International®.

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