Since a few weeks back you have been able to apply to the Making All Voices Count (MAVC) fund for grant money for your project on innovation, scaling up and research. We, Ushahidi, manage the innovation component of the fund. As part of opening up our call for proposal together with our MAVC Fund manager partners Hivos and Institute of Development Studies we have organised Open for Business events around Africa. These events serve as opportunities to inform Civil Society Organisations, media, government officials, technology organisations and individuals about the MAVC grand challenge.
You can read more about our events in Accra, Johannesburg and Nairobi below, but if you are in Jakarta, also make sure to check our website for the final Open for Business soon to be held in your city. Or simply go to the website and apply for a grant! http://www.makingallvoicescount.org
In September, at the first Open for Business event, Ushahidi was represented in Accra by Declan Ottaro. Below is his take on the experience:
“The hot afternoon, despite the ‘winter’ season was thankfully contained by the cool facility that is the two-month old iSpace co-working space located at the corner of Anumansa and Lokko Streets in the Osu suburb of Accra.
The event started with a welcome from our hosts, represented by co-founder Josiah Kwesi. This was followed by the presentations of Erik Nijland from Hivos, giving an overview of the Making All Voices Count grand challenge, after which I delved into the innovation component that Ushahidi is responsible for. Emmanuel Okyere from Hutspace then ran through a case study of www.odekro.org where Ghanaian parliamentary hansards are made available online for citizens to interact with. The highlight of this presentation was probably the link that was formed with a participant from a CSO that works with parliament to look for ways of improving participation on the portal as this was one of the challenges facing it.”
Johannesburg, South Africa
Mathias Antonsson represented Ushahidi in Johannesburg and this is his take of the event:
“Hosted at a venue with beautifully displayed roof beams at the University of Witswatersrand we really got to indulge in all that makes Making All Voices Count so special to us. Our MAVC Director Marjan Besuijen welcomed everyone before Jay Naidoo entered the stage. With great passion he shared stories on corruption and transparency mentioning that the government works for its citizens and not the other way around. Then I explained to the around 80 participants what Making All Voices Count is all about. Precious Greehy from Hivos elaborated further on the scaling up aspect before we headed into two case studies.
Victoria Nembaware from Cell-Life explained most enthusiastically how they had used text messages to improve government responsiveness in Cape Town. With a simple feedback loop (complaint -> ticket -> action -> result texted back to person making the initial complaint) they had managed to incentivise change. She was followed by Alison Tilley from the Open Democracy Advice Centre who explained how they had advanced their work using ICT based solutions.
All in all it was a fun event followed by very interesting discussions as many participants were eager to share their ideas and input over post-presentation-drinks. If the discussion are any indication, then the applications being submitted from South Africa should be most interesting.”
The third event in the series was held at the iHub only one day after the event in Johannesburg. As it was Nairobi’s turn to show off our colourful African print, Josiah Mugambi, the iHub’s Executive Director welcomed us before Mendi Njonjo from Hivos kicked off the presentations. Ushahidi’s Daudi Were then asked the poignant questions, “What is your best experience with your government this year? What is your worst?”. This got an interesting conversation going as people shared awesome experiences procuring new/replacement passports and horrendous experiences of taxes levied at ten times the value of goods. This conversation gave a fitting context for the introduction to Making All Voices Count with the four components – innovation, research, scaling and catalysing global action covered in greater detail. Our partner, the Institute for Development Studies, had put together a video in which Rosemary McGee explained the research component.
The event then switched gears with a panel moderated by Kevin Mwachiro. It consisted of Regina Opondo from CRECO, Melba Katindi from Kelin Kenya and Daudi Were from Ushahidi sharing their experiences engaging with government from a civil society and technology perspective. This gave an opportunity for attendees to discuss ideas on how to close the feedback loop between governments and citizens. Juliana Rotich from Ushahidi then closed the formal session with a vote of thanks after which we got an opportunity to network with each other.