There’s a fair few funders out there that recognise the role of mobile and web technology in addressing social issues and this work is starting to become more widely supported. At Indigo Trust, we believe that the best solutions to a given country’s challenges will be devised locally and for this to happen, there needs to be support for the wider ecosystem which fosters this.
It is largely for this reason, that we created a fund for technology innovation spaces in Sub-Saharan Africa. These spaces provide state of the art facilities, networking opportunities, mentoring, events and training that help to strengthen tech communities in country and support them to develop social tech solutions or commercial businesses. Their co-working spaces, social events and welcoming environments also encourage collaboration and the co-creation of ideas. We believe we need to support these spaces to create an enabling environment for tech entrepreneurs across the continent and to encourage local innovation.
We’re delighted to announce that Open Society Institute West Africa (OSIWA) has been forward thinking enough to recognise the value of supporting these spaces. They’ve granted us $75,000, of which $45,000 will be re-granted to technology innovation hubs in West Africa to support both their core costs and programmatic activities. $20,000 will provide seed funding to newer spaces in West Africa for similar activities.
Both Indigo and OSIWA are interested in supporting the building, upskilling and strengthening of technology communities across the continent. We’re also interested in how technologists can work with a diverse set of players such as activists, civil society, the corporate and public sector to tackle social challenges in novel ways. Some hubs are already running activities to support this. We are also particularly interested in how core and seed funding, as opposed to project funding frees creativity and innovation in a different way and helps the spaces grow more organically.
We’re excited to see how our joint efforts can help support the small, but growing tech sectors in a range of countries across Africa. The tech entrepreneurial communities dramatically vary in size, connectedness and maturity from country to country and the fund aims to take this in consideration when developing plans with each individual space. Some are focusing on community building and skills advancement, while others are already supporting successful social projects and commercial start-ups. In the long-term, we hope that these spaces will have a catalytic effect in sparking the use of mobile and web technology to address social and civic challenges, and substantially build the agency of young women and men on the continent.
Watch this space for announcements on which spaces we’ve chosen to support and to learn more about how they plan to spend their grants.