Values, Philosophy and Principles of the Labdoo Project

Labdoo is a collaborative humanitarian social network which is designed to help bring laptops and educational devices to schools in need without incurring any economic or environmental costs.

In the world, those who have access to free sources of education (FSE) are the rare exception. This is a problem because:

  1. It leads to inequalities between those who have access to FSE and those who don't.
  2. The potential talent of most of the children in the world and the societal benefits that would arise from it are lost.

This reality is commonly known as the 'digital divide'.

A laptop allows schools to gain access to FSE, helping to unlock the skills and potential capabilities of children and students. This can be achieved via offline education software that comes installed in the laptops or via online education content.

Labdoo exists as 'a tool' to help sustainably coordinate the mobilization of unused educational devices and to bring them to needy schools using global collaboration, without incurring any economic cost and without damaging the Planet.


How Does Labdoo Deliver its Mission?

The mechanism to deliver Labdoo's mission is via the creation of a humanitarian social network. This social network provides the following functions:

  • It provides an efficient way to organize information: identification of sources of demand, supply, laptops, dootrips, QA resources, etc.
  • It provides a way to break down a very large mission (solving the digital divide) into a very large number of very small tasks (tagging, sanitizing, storage, dootrip, etc.). Each of these tasks becomes so small that its cost is negligible.
  • It provides a way for everyone to be part of the solution (community building). Every person can have his/her own mini-mission.
  • Since all the information and activities are openly available through the humanitarian social network, it provides transparency.
  • As a flat humanitarian project, it helps to break barriers and stereotypes between the beneficiaries and the benefactors. For instance, in the Labdoo network, aid can originate from the developing world and be received by the developed world.
  • It is fun.

Labdoo as a Tool

Labdoo provides an open and free tool: the tool is the humanitarian social network and the toolkit found in it that allows everyone to carry out his or her own mini-mission. The tool is provided “as is”, which means that people developing it cannot be liable for how the tool is used. This concept is similar to other well known projects such as the GNU Project.

The source code that runs the Labdoo social network is fully and freely available from the following github repo:


Labdoo's Zero Funding Target Approach

Our philosophy

You may have noticed that within the system there is no place for people to make a monetary donation and the platform is 100% advertisement free. That's because Labdoo runs simply out of people's goodwill through the contribution of people's time (global collaboration) and unused resources such as laptops or travelers' luggage space (excess capacity), and therefore we require no investors to carry out our cause. We call this a "zero funding organization".

The Labdoo team presented the idea of zero funding organizations in the paper “Humanitarian Social Networks and Positive Sum Development” presented at the 2013 International Conference on Sustainable Development Practice, in New York. Zero-funding organizations are a special case of traditional nonprofit organizations and the concept of social businesses introduced by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus in his book ”Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism”. A zero funding organization is a non-profit organization and a social business which is self-sustainable without any major source of monetary funding, including philanthropic donations, external investment funding or even internal profits. A zero funding organization is a special case of a nonprofit organizations because it generates no monetary profits, only social profits. It is also a special case of Yunus’ concept of social businesses because, since there is no money involved, its objective can only be social.

In summary, zero funding organizations are both nonprofit organizations and social businesses that eliminate money from the organization’s operational equation.

The benefits

The Labdoo founders decided to build the Project as a Zero Funding Organization because of several important reasons:

  • To run Labdoo, there is no need for money. The world has so much excess capacity (laptops, travelers, connectivity, goodwill, etc), that we have the capability to solve the digital divide problem without incurring any additional cost (economic or environmental).
  • By removing the money factor, the project's mission becomes clean and focused. This approach implies that there is no possible confusion on what the objective of the project is and it strengthens its values. The only possible motivation supporting the project is one of making a contribution to the global community.
  • This approach makes Project Labdoo resilient against global economic crisis. A paradox about our economic system is that when there is an economic crisis, social projects are the ones who get the biggest hits in terms of budget cuts. Hence, those that need the biggest help are the ones who get hit first and harder. This is so because of the money-dependency factor in practically all social projects. By removing the money from the equation, Labdoo can continue to operate normally even in the presence of economic recessions. In fact, Project Labdoo was created in the midst of one of the biggest economic recessions of the last 100 years.
  • Money does not teach global citizenship, global collaboration does. If we took the shortcut of soliciting and using lots of money to resolve our mission, then all right, we would solve the problem, but we would not learn anything along the way. It is the 'doing of things together', in collaboration, that teaches us all concepts like making our planet more sustainable and understanding that we are all part of the same global community helping each other.
  • The opportunity cost. If we invest $100 in bringing one laptop to a needy school, automatically we are des-investing $100 from all other humanitarian projects such as the provision of health care, clean water, shelter, etc. Let's use the money for those projects that really need it.
  • If we were a company, our best "marketing strategy" would be to advertise how low our costs are. In humanitarian aid, when it comes to choosing social projects, we believe people are very sensitive to the approach taken by the organization. If our costs were high, this would turn people off. If we keep our costs very low, that is an indication that we are taking the right approach, which helps to get more people on board.
  • It substantially simplifies the paperwork and the logistics of international cooperation. Could you imagine the headache of administering money donations for a project that operates in more than 100 countries?
  • It allows for exploring new and more sustainable ways to organize global communities toward solving global problems. We love to innovate and innovation happens in all possible fields, not just technology, but also in ways we organize our workflows. We see the zero funding target objective as innovation in terms of how humans can organize to achieve common objectives in the most possibly efficient way.
  • The 'how' can be more important than the 'what'. There is a famous sentence that was told once by a famous President: 'We choose to go to the moon, not because it is easy, but because it is hard." This idea reflects a very important concept in human society: the destination you choose to target is important (the 'what' you propose to do), but the path you choose to get there (the 'how' you propose to get there) can be even more important. The reason is that it is the path to that destination that makes you stronger, as a person, as a team, as a society. By choosing to go to the moon, it is not so much what you achieve in reaching a planet that has barely any resources, but it is more about what you learn along the way as a team by attempting to go there together. Through that journey, many new technologies were invented that today we enjoy, and society became more united and encouraged to take positive action than ever before. A new generation of kids became fascinated with what we achieved together and they too decided to become astronauts, scientists, mathematicians, doctors... simply, good men and women. At Labdoo we take the challenge of bringing education to every child in the Planet as an opportunity to make each of us stronger and more united. By choosing the path of open global collaboration, we empower everyone to take action, to learn the skills and to discover the global citizenship character that it takes for all of us to succeed together as one. This intangible, the 'how' you do things, the path you choose to achieve your target, can often (if not always) be more important than the destination you are aiming at itself.

The meaning of targeting zero funding: Cost per Dootronic (CPD)

Of course in reality from time to time there will be unavoidable costs. For instance, let's say a hub is presenting the Labdoo idea to its community in a local event; there will be a need to build tools to help outreach and communicate. Perhaps there will be a need to create a roll up or to print your own outreaching cards. Because these costs are small, most labdooers tend to absorbe them out of their pocket (for instance, since most of us have printers at home, it costs practically nothing to print a few flyers). However, certain hubs grow to support a network of hub branches and as they organically grow, their fix costs increase too: e.g., it is not the same for a small hub at a high school to sanitize 20 laptops a year than for a few united hubs and branches to sanitize 1000 laptops.

The meaning of the words 'targeting zero funding' is not so much about the fix costs, but about the marginal costs of the project. The marginal costs are defined as the Cost per Dootronic or CPD. Our goal is to keep the CPD of the Labdoo project as nearly as possible to zero. While we understand that absolute zero is not feasible, we operate with the target to keep it as low as possible by leveraging the two pilars: (1) excess capacity and (2) global collaboration.

Today our CPD is about 3 dollars per dootronic (this includes all possible costs, including transportation). This makes Labdoo more than 100 times more efficient than other initiatives such as the One Laptop Per Child, which had an estimated cost of more than 400 dollars per computer. It is important to notice that this is the average cost per dootronic (summing up expenses divided by numer of dootronics). Occasionally a laptop may cost higher than this value, but by leveraging scales, the average stays low. The CPD can be kept low because Labdoo relies on collaboration and excess capacity. The CPD value includes all the associated costs such as sanitizing unused laptops, loading the education software using free open source technology, transportation using CO2-neutral dootrips, deployment and post-deployment services via the collaborative Labdoo Global Support Program. Our goal is to continue to keep this number as low as possible.

We are currently working on a new dashboard that will allow everyone to openly consult Project Labdoo's current CPD. Stay tune for that.

Labdoo's Participants

Labdoo is a humanitarian social network where everyone can participate. Organized according to their function, the network is composed of the following non-exclusive participating groups: the grassroots, hubs, edoovillages and beneficiaries.
All of Labdoo's general values, philosophy and principles described in this document apply also to all of Labdoo's participating groups.

The Grassroots

The grassroots are defined as anyone carrying out a “Labdoo act”, no matter how small. Examples of such acts are: tagging, sanitizing a laptop, making a dootrip, explaining the meaning of the “digital divide” and “electronic waste” to a friend, recycling a laptop, coding a portion of the social network, etc. Every person that is part of the grassroots defines a node in the Labdoo network. Each of these nodes is connected with each other using the Labdoo humanitarian social network (HSN). The delivery of the overall social mission is made possible through these connections, which provide an efficient and sustainable way to bring excess capacity to regions in need.

While the Labdoo tools are provided “as is”, everyone participating in the project is expected to behave according to good ethic and moral principles. Participants acting against the values and principles described in this charter can be removed from the Labdoo network.


Everybody can be a participant in the Labdoo network by performing actions to help spread education around the globe. When one or more of the participants act together regularly, they can optionally create their own Labdoo Hub. A hub is mainly a group of people that get together from time to time to carry activities such as collecting and sanitizing unused laptops, organizing dootrips, recycling technology, or carrying out outreaching activities, among others. Hubs are flexible in that they do not need to carry out all of these activities, but just the ones that are appropriate to the skills of the people part of it. For instance, some hubs are just dropping points where people can bring their unused laptops which then get transported to other hubs where they get sanitized. Hubs are typically implemented in high schools, at home, in companies, in your local neighbor community, in any type of organized community.

When a hub is created, it receives a kit containing the following:

  • A hub space inside the Labdoo systems that allows for the management of donated devices, dootrips, edoovillages, etc.
  • The listing of the hub in the page to help it gain visiblity.
  • The rights to create new edoovillages.
  • A web album inside the hub space where pictures of the hub's activities can be uploaded.

If a hub becomes inactive for at least six months or if it acts against the Labdoo principles described in this charter, its kit can be removed or reassigned to another hub or group of people.


Edoovillages are schools where laptops are deployed. Labdoo focuses on equipping schools because:

  • Schools have their own organized community.
  • Classrooms are managed by teachers which can help monitor the good use of the laptops. The role of the teachers is also important to help Labdoo recycle laptops once they no longer work.
  • Schools typically have electricity and access to the Internet (even in remote areas thanks to the expansion of wireless communications). They also provide water-proof and secure shelters.
  • Working with schools simplifies also the coordination of dootrips, as many travellers to poor communities visit schools in their trips.

In order to create a new edoovillage, the potential recipients will need to fill in the Labdoo laptop request form.

When an edoovillage is created, the recipients receive a kit containing at least:

  • An edoovillage dashboard from where the inventory of contributed devices can be managed and tracked.
  • An entry in the list of Labdoo edoovillages.
  • A web album inside the edoovillage space where pictures of the edoovillages activities can be uploaded.

To help reduce electronic waste, a main obligation of the laptop recipients is to report back to every six months the list of laptops under their inventory and their status (working or not working) and facilitate the process of recycling the laptops once they no longer work through the Labdoo's social network-based recycling mechanism. This reporting processes are referred as Global Inventory Checks (GICs).

The Beneficiaries

Besides helping to eliminate the digital divide and thanks to its distributed nature, Labdoo can also help remove other types of social barriers. One example is the barriers and stereotypes that may exist between beneficiaries and the benefactors. In traditional aid systems, usually the rich helps the poor, the north helps the south, the adults help the youngest ones. In the Labdoo network, however, everyone can benefit from the project and everyone can make a contribution. The project aims at covering needs and mobilizing excess resources wherever they may be, regardless of their location and their size. For instance, in the Labdoo network, aid can originate from the developing world and be received by the developed world. Also, not only adults can participate with the tasks of sanitizing a laptop, but also young students. Real examples found in the Labdoo network illustrating this concept are a Labdoo hub created in Mexico City sanitizing laptops and a School in Silicon Valley receiving laptops for students coming from low income families.

In the Labdoo network there are no benefactors; instead, everyone is a beneficiary. Those who receive the technology benefit from it by having a better access to education while those that dedicate a moment of their time to bring technology to the needy ones benefit from the experience of participating in a global project, learning about the social and environmental issues the world faces, making new friends, and the joy of seeing a happy face at the end of their mini-mission.

Labdoo's Code of Conduct

Labdoo has earned its great reputation for trust and confidence because its volunteers hold to a higher standard by adhering to commitments, displaying honesty, integrity, respect, and conducting honorably.

Everything we do in connection with our work at Labdoo is measured against the highest possible standards of ethical conduct. Our commitment to these standards ensures that great people join our network, be they volunteers or partners.

The following document presents Labdoo's official code of conduct. This document helps us follow some guidelines on how to behave and how to handle different scenarios when interacting with other volunteers, NGOs, schools, companies, organizations and people in general.

Please read the Code of Conduct and follow both its spirit and letter, always bearing in mind that each of us has a personal responsibility to incorporate, and to encourage other Labdooers to incorporate, the principles of the Code into our work.

Thank you.

[Download Labdoo's Code of Conduct]

Decission-Making Guidelines

Use this chart to help you resolve any problems related to the code of conduct.

Labdoo Glossary

Digital Divide: A global problem arising from the fact that those who do not have access to the Internet, cannot have free access to sources of education, which leads to lesser opportunities with respect to those who do have access to the Internet. Since those who have access to the Internet learn education at a much faster pace
than those who do not, the digital divide leads to an ever increasing socio-economic gap between these two groups.

Dootronic: An electronic learning device stored in the Labdoo database.

Dootrip: The action of transporting a laptop from one location to another in the luggage of volunteering travelers who have to undertake that trip regardless of the
laptops. Dootrips effectively provide a transportation system with no economic or environmental cost.

Edoovillage: A location where the Labdoo network has a school project where laptops are sent.

Electronic Waste (eWaste): A global problem arising from the ever increasing consumption of electronic goods that at the end of their life time do not get properly
recycled back to planet earth.

Hub: A hub is mainly a group of people that get together from time to time to carry Labdoo activities

Global Inventory Checks (GICs): A tracking system which can track deployed dootronic status. It can be used to quickly update all the dootronics assigned to an edoovillage in one shot.

Labdoo: It stands for Laboratories for Education—the mission of the Labdoo project is to use social network tools to bring laptops to children without incurring additional costs to Planet Earth.

Labdooer: A Labdoo activist.

Labdoo Global Support (LGS): A support system to provide online technical help to schools around the world who receive dootronics

Mini-mission: The mission of bringing a single unused laptop to a school so that children in that school can gain free access to sources of education.

Labdoo Circle of Life: It is the life-path that every laptop should undertake to ensure sustainability, including the extraction of its components from Planet Earth, their assembly into the actual laptop embodiment, its usage, its delivery to a child for education purposes using dootrips, and its final recycling back to Planet Earth.

Team: Labdoo provides a communication tool to help labdooers manage their own projects and activities in collaboration with other members. We call this feature "Labdoo teams".

Wiki: Wiki pages allow users share knowledge and best practices in document format.