Introduction

students | mentors | small businesses | educational institutions | governments

Project Cauā's goals are to help university students better afford an education while improving the support of small businesses in using their computers.
In addition Project Cauā will help computer science and computer engineering students to learn about how to run a business and increase their practical computing skills while pursuing their further education.
In many Latin American countries University Education is free of tuition. Either a student can go to a public university for free, or the government gives qualified students a scholarship to go to a private university.
Yet it was estimated by a university president that forty percent of the students who qualify for “free” education still can not take advantage of this opportunity because they do not have money for:

  • housing near the university
  • transportation to and from their housing to the university
  • Internet connectivity at their housing
  • computers needed for their study
  • books
  • food (since they are typically not eating with their family)
  • and other incidental charges

In poorer families these students may have been working to help bring in money to their families, and when they start going to university they have to leave these jobs and that money stops coming into their family. Flipping hamburgers at a fast food place part time is not going to replace that income.
At the same time, these students do have marketable skills. They have been fixing their family's and neighbors computers for many years, removing viruses, doing backups, helping install updates to software, repairing or replacing disks. However they do not get paid much money for this, since they are doing this work for their family and friends.
At the same time there are businesses that have a small number of computers and are too small to hire a full time systems administrator. Their computers often run slow (if at all), are very out of date with security patches, and have not had a backup of their disks done in a long time. Sometimes these companies get their support from on-line call centers at computer consulting companies, but when they have problems it is difficult for them to fix the problem over the phone, or even to properly communicate the problem to the technical person at the call center, wasting time and effort for both the business person and the call center.
Project Cauā will bring together the knowledgeable student with the small business owner. It will show the student how to find their potential customers, and how to engage the customers in a preventive maintenance contract that will make the customer's computers more reliable and more useful.
The small business person will have a contract with the student, a Project Cauā Professional (PCP), and the PCP will work for the customer a set number of hours a week doing preventive maintenance on the customer's computer systems.
If the PCP works three or four hours a week for each of six customers, they will be working 18 to 24 hours a week, and the rest of the time the student will be studying, getting more training and moving towards a degree.
The PCP is an independent business, and works through contracts.
Local mentors, made up of computer professionals either from local business, commercial and fraternal organizations (Rotary Clubs, Chamber of Commerce Organizations, Alumni Organizations, Hacker/Maker Organizations, Masons, Lions Club) help the PCPs learn how to run their business following guidelines of Project Cauā.
Mentors help the PCPs evaluate their skills, create their contracts and advertising brochures (from skeleton contracts and brochures) and present themselves to small business owners for hiring.
Eventually successful PCPs become mentors for younger students entering the program.
Leads for the PCPs to find customers can come from local organizations, or from knocking “door to door”.
There is no charge for the PCP to join the program. The website listing all documents and plans are read-only (and down-loadable) to anyone. If a potential PCP wishes to interact with the program, they only have to sign up for an account after agreeing to a Code of Conduct which stipulates their interactions on the website and with other PCPs and mentors. If a potential PCP wishes to become a licensed PCP, and able to use the Project Cauā trademarks and copyrights, they will have to abide by a set of Ethics Policies, but there is still no charge to the PCP.
In order for university students to get a “good start” with the Project Cauā program, it is recommended that they get started in the last year of grade school. By this time the student should know if they have been admitted to a school of higher learning and where it is.
By working with their local mentors where their family lives, the student can evaluate their skills, create their first contracts and brochures and practice their skills. After graduation the students can move close the university and start selling their contracts to local businesses around the university.
As the program progresses, students entering university can partner with students who are in their final year, and gradually take over the graduating student's customers, providing continuity and quality of support for the customers.
In addition to having the PCPs find their own customers or inherit them from graduating seniors, support companies who have call centers could reach out and use PCPs as first-line on-site support representatives for problems where having PCPs on-site would help them solve problems quicker without having to send one of their support people out to the customer's site.
This type of contract could be between the PCP and the customer or between the PCP and the support organization.
PCPs would be discouraged from having too many customers, having any other PCPs as their employees, or working as an employee for anyone.
PCPs having customers who need services other than what the PCP feels comfortable in supplying (and therefore not in their contract or brochure) would be allowed to subcontract that service to another PCP or second level support organization that does, at extra charge to the customer.