Kopernik (organization)

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Kopernik Global Logo

Kopernik is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization connecting simple technology with people living in remote communities. Kopernik has connected more than 190,000 people in 19 countries with water filters, solar lights, clean cookstoves and other innovative products since its launch in 2010. These technologies save people time and money, improve health and safety, ease pressure on the environment and open up new economic opportunities.[1]


Kopernik connects simple technology with last mile communities to reduce poverty.[2]


Kopernik, pronounced ko.per.nik, is Nicolaus Copernicus’ name in Polish.


Kopernik’s co-founders, Toshihiro (Toshi) Nakamura and Ewa Wojkowska, noticed that affordable technologies that could improve lives were not reaching remote communities where they are most needed. They wanted to bridge the gap. They left a decade of service with the United Nations to launch Kopernik in 2010.

How It Works [3]


Kopernik sources technologies designed for the developing world. Remote communities can learn about available technologies and submit proposals for the most locally appropriate products on the website. After conducting due diligence Kopernik publishes projects on the Kopernik website to raise funds through crowdfunding.


Individual donors fund the upfront cost of sending technology to the project location by donating to projects of their choice. When the project is fully funded Kopernik ships the technology to its local partners, who distribute it in local communities at a locally affordable price, paying in full or in installments.


Kopernik’s local partners repay the money from technology sales to Kopernik. It is then reinvested in more technology. The impact of the technology is assessed in cooperation with the local partners and shared with technology producers, so they can continue to make the best technology for the developing world.


Kopernik is a non-profit organization, registered in the US as a 501(c)(3) [4] with EIN 27-0962978 Yayasan Kopernik (a non-profit foundation registered in Indonesia) implements Kopernik’s mission in Indonesia, whereas Kopernik Japan (コペルニク), a non-profit foundation registered in Japan,[5] supports Kopernik globally through raising philanthropic funds, raising awareness, and developing consulting and advisory services in Japan.

Kopernik headquarters are located in Ubud, on the Indonesian island of Bali, ensuring the team are closer to locations in Indonesia, Timor-Leste and other parts of Asia where Kopernik’s projects are focused.

Kopernik balances a philanthropic and business approach to distributing technology.[6] Individual donors fund the upfront costs of introducing technologies and creating micro-business opportunities in remote communities by donating through the Kopernik website. The money raised from product sales is reinvested in more technology for the last mile. Other sources of funds include funding from funding partners (corporations or foundations) as well as revenue from the advisory services.[7] The organisation has been awarded the Guidestar Exchange Gold [8] seal as an acknowledgement of transparency.

The organization employs 54 (as of August 2014) full-time staff members, and more than 100 volunteers have contributed their time. Kopernik offers fellowship opportunities [9] for university students to work with a local partner in a last mile location for a period of 3 months, to support implementation or assess the impact of a Kopernik project. Kopernik has offered 20 fellowship opportunities between 2010 and 2014.

Tech Kiosks

Tech Kiosks are family-run small shops (warung), that sell simple technologies alongside a wide range of everyday goods. Tech Kiosk owners receive technology stock on consignment. When they sell technologies they earn a commission, return the cost of inventory to Kopernik, and order more of the technologies most in demand. The organization currently has 42 Tech Kiosks in Bali, Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan and East Nusa Tenggara (as of March 2014).

Last Mile Consulting

The organization provides advisory services under the name Last Mile Consulting to corporations, aid agencies and foundations, specialising in the testing and distribution of life-improving products.[10]


Toshihiro (Toshi) Nakamura

Kopernik’s Co-founder & CEO, Toshi Nakamura, has 10 years experience working with the United Nations in Timor-Leste, Indonesia, Sierra Leone and the US. Prior to joining the UN, Nakamura was a management consultant for McKinsey and Company in Tokyo. Toshi Nakamura is Associate Professor at Osaka University and was honoured as a Young Global Leader in 2012 by World Economic Forum.[11]

Ewa Wojkowska

Kopernik’s Co-founder & COO, Ewa Wojkowska, has more than a decade of experience in international development with the UN, World Bank and NGOs in Timor-Leste, Indonesia, Sierra Leone, Laos and Thailand. Wojkowska has been recognised as an Ashoka Fellow,[12] an Asia 21 Young Leader by the Asia Society,[13] Rutgers University's Social Entrepreneur of the Year and as one of Advance's 50 emerging women leaders.[14]

Awards and Recognitions

In 2010, the Crunchies Awards named Kopernik The Best Clean Technology Startup.[15]

External links

Kopernik official website (http://kopernik.info)

Further reading