The challenges of managing a Fablab in a developing country: the Philippines

Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
2018, pp. 75 - 83 (8)
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
This paper discusses the challenges encountered by a Fablab in a developing country as well as the approaches taken to addresses these challenges at ‘Fablab UP Cebu’. The three major challenges identified are: finding funding; organising procurement; and, promoting a maker culture. Fablab UP Cebu is funded by public funds, grants and user contribution. The current funding model relies on generating enough research, industry and community output to create positive visibility to support the continuous application for grants. Procurement of equipment and material supplies is dictated by strict and complex government regulation as well as limited local supplies of specialised equipment. We are taking steps to reduce friction in the procurement process as well as exploring using an alternative legal entity to simplify the acquisition of some of the Fablab needs. Finally, the Fablab values defy many established local cultural and societal norms. The concept of ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking is difficult to promote in a culture traditionally dominated by micromanagement and risk aversion. Furthermore, Fablab’s collaborative exchange and learning opposes the typical teacher-student model. To enable gradual shifts in norms, we encourage users to operate the machines themselves, run workshops to create a multidisciplinary maker community, and organise events like makeathons.
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