Day 2: Fedora APAC Budget Planning FAD: Little Things
We reserved the second day for all of the little things, most importantly swag. Sirko passed around samples of swag that EMEA made, notably stickers, pins and buttons and also some balloons as examples of things we could do.
The main problem however was bulk production and distribution of the swag. Unlike EMEA, APAC was not one big region with few export controls. APAC was a lot more divided and given strict customs policies of some countries, we would have to produce a lot of swag locally, thus increasing cost of production. We have to figure out the cheapest way to do this and ambassadors agreed to get quotes by about January for production as well as shipping.
One of the most important problems from the budgeting viewpoints for APAC however was the charges for transactions that ambassadors had to pay for each reimbursement. The current charges are much too high for APAC at about 4.4% of the transaction amount. For example, for a $100 reimbursement, the ambassador tends to lose about $4, which is a significant amount of money in most APAC countries. In terms of McDonalds meals, one can have two McChicken meals in India with $5.
The other problem with Paypal was that all countries in the APAC region could not accept Paypal. Because of this, one would either have to use something like Western Union to transfer money, which is again riddled with steep charges.
Various approaches were discussed, from getting Paypal to waive those charges, to passing on the charges to Fedora somehow, to associating the APAC credit card with a US based Western Union account. We still need to discuss this with the Fedora leadership.
The other action item was to make an inventory of all material we had in APAC, i.e. banners, tablecloth, etc. so that we know what kind of material is available for conferences around. This would also help us plan production of any such material in future.
Finally, everyone seemed to like the idea of having smaller focussed contributor/user meetups like I had proposed for India and Izhar suggested making a brand name for such meetups so that everyone could standardize on them. I suggested Fedora Contributor Meetup and Fedora User Meetup. Tuan will bring this up at the FAMSCo meeting.
We ended the day with dinner at a restaurant at the Mekong riverfront. Greta joined us for this one and we had a great time. Somvannda and Nisa took us to the night market after that to buy stuff and we then headed back, but not before having another round of snacks and drinks at a local place near our hotel. I had a 4AM start but it was past midnight by the time we were done. Almost everyone stayed up chatting about various things till it was time for me to go.
This was my first trip to the East and perhaps one of the more interesting trips in recent times. We are geographically and politically divided but it was interesting to see that a lot of the problems we had were common and solutions to them could be quite common too. This is hopefully a beginning to an even closer association with ambassadors in APAC to bring Free and Open Source Software closer to people in the region through the Fedora project.
I have taken a few pictures, which I will hopefully be able to process and upload before the end of the week.