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Naroa Zurutuza: Connecting the World’s Schools to the Internet

Naroa Zurutuza: Connecting the World’s Schools to the Internet

Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs.

Spiffy here with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Naroa Zurutuza, the chief technology officer and co-founder of Giga. Let’s learn what’s happening at Giga and how Naroa is making a positive impact in the world.

Spiffy: Hi Naroa, thanks a million for talking to me today. Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through Giga?

Naroa: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! I know many of your readers around the world connect with you through the internet. Sadly, there are still 1.3 billion children around the world who have no access to the internet at home. And almost half of the world's schools remain offline. This is why Giga exists. Our mission is to connect every school in the world to the internet by 2030. And by doing that, we're bringing opportunities to all children, regardless of where they live.

Spiffy: What motivates you to do it?

Naroa: The internet has unlocked many opportunities for people around the world, including me. And I want more people, especially children, to experience these opportunities. Technology and innovation also excites me, and we use the latest technologies in mapping, artificial intelligence, and blockchain, to advance our work. There is always something new in Giga and that inspires me to keep doing what I'm doing.

Spiffy: What is the impact of your work?

Naroa: In order to connect the unconnected schools, we first have to know where they are. So one of the challenging, but fun things we do is to map all schools in the world. Our project connect maps help governments see where the greatest needs are, allowing them to create plans and strategies to connect schools to the internet. We also help governments and internet service providers work together so that schools get the best internet connection with the least cost possible.

Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organization milestone or initiative. What impact does it make on your audience/community?

Naroa: Working with our partners, we have mapped more than 2.1 million schools in 138 countries, and we have also connected more than 2.17 million students in 5,700+ schools around the world. Many of these students would have only seen the internet for the first time in their lives. I'm thrilled that they will be experiencing a world of information and opportunities because of this. More importantly, when they grow up, they will be ready to face a future that's quickly becoming digital.

Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?

Naroa: Giga is all about people and organizations working together. In fact, Giga was created by two global organizations joining forces to connect the world's schools by 2030, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Since we started in 2019, we've attracted more partners, governments, and people to join our mission. Spiffy, I'm glad that you and your readers are now aware of this mission, and I hope you join us by telling your friends about it!

Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Naroa—it’s been an honor!

Naroa Zurutuza is Giga's Chief Technology Officer and one of its co-founders. She leads the mapping and technology work of Giga. She used to live in Kenya and worked with various companies, including an agriculture startup and a non-profit that empowered local entrepreneurs through access to finance. Naroa holds a MS in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, USA and a MS in Telecommunications Engineering from Universidad del País Vasco, Spain. (First published on the Ladderworks website on August 23, 2023.)

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.

© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Shikha Tandon. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.