Potential Partners for Tech-Focused Organisations

During my recent trip to South Africa, I came across a number of organisations which may be of value as potential partners to organisations implementing technology-driven projects across Africa.

The Harris Family Foundation is currently being formed in South Africa and is managed by Martine Schaffer.  They will be focusing on the ways that digital technologies can be harnessed to improve educational outcomes in South Africa (including early child development).  They are currently piloting a project piloting the use of the Reading Eggs literacy programme.

The Vodacom Foundation in South Africa is head up by Mthobeli Tengimfene.  As well as running a small grant’s programme, which has an online application, they have three flagship programmes:

1)    Using technology as a teacher development tool

2)    Using mobile technology to manage HIV/AIDS

3)    Using mobile based technology to manage gender based violence

They are particularly interested in scalable, self-sustaining projects which have a national focus or concentrate in less well served regions of the country such as the Northern Cape.

The inspiring team at the Praekelt Foundation build open source, scalable mobile technologies aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of people living in poverty.  They’ve developed a wide range of influential products including Young Africa Live, where young people can talk about love, sex, relationships and HIV/AIDs, Ummeli that helps communities create employment opportunities, Vumi (watch this space for more information on this soon), which is a super-scalable conversation engine, Jmbo, which enables you to create, discover and share mobile content through your mobile and txtalert, designed to improve adherence to Anti-Retroviral Treatment.

The team at Praekelt are extremely keen to support organisations interested in developing mobile based projects and can offer advice, support and access to their VUMI platform, which can help projects achieve scalability and reduce the cost of mobile communication by SMS, USSD, star menu and chat.  If you’re interested in getting in touch with them, let me know and I can easily coordinate this.

Mxit is an extremely popular mobile instant messenger and social network that evolves and innovates to enhance the lifestyle of its global community and allows them to chat for free anywhere in the world.  It has a global base of over 43 million users and over 750 000 messages are sent and received per day.  Mxit Reach is their social arm, which aims to create free mobile apps in the fields of basic education, agriculture, healthcare and community initiative.  Applications include a mobile version of Wikipedia, maths applications, counselling platforms, the Fundza literacy platform, BSmrt and the national youth parliament campaign Bokamoso Ba Rona.

Mxit Reach would like to hear from organisations which use mobile applications to make a social impact and are keen to adapt their applications for use on their platform.  It’s simple to do and we will be writing a blog post shortly to tell you how.  Hosting your App on their site is free and I’m happy to put you in touch with them, just ask.

The Shuttleworth Foundation provide fellowships to support innovators focusing on technological innovation, knowledge and learning and who share their value of openness.  They are looking for social innovators who are helping to change the world for the better and provide support through an innovative social investment model.  Current fellows include Gavin Weale who helped to develop Live Magazine, Rufus Pollock of the Open Knowledge Foundation and Arthur Attwell, who developed a web-based rights market place.  Technology innovators with a groundbreaking concept should consider applying for a fellowship.

I was also fortunate enough to meet with academics at UCT including Ana Deumert.  Ana’s research focuses around language and literacy and she was involved in the evaluation of the Yoza project, which created a series of mobile novels available on Mxit which incorporate social messaging.

I’m happy to make introductions to any of the above organisations or to advice you on how best to approach them.