The many faces of innovation for development

Who are the protagonists of social innovation around the world?

In this video gallery we have collected the pitch decks from many of the innovators who have  successfully passed the first stage of the selection process of the “ICT for Social Good” Grant, created by Ong2.0 and realised within the Innovazione per lo Sviluppo Program, thanks to the support of Fondazione Cariplo, Compagnia di San Paolo and the collaboration of Fondazione Mission Bambini Onlus.

by Viviana Brun



To present their project, their idea, their reason for working passionately every day, in a span of thirty seconds is a challenging task. Many innovators of the “ICT for Social Good” Grant, however, accepted this challenge with great enthusiasm and tried their best to briefly introduce themselves and their projects.

This video gallery was created to offer an overview of the variety evident in the social innovation sector. It is a world populated by people of different origins, aspirations, ages … a sign of how ICTs are versatile tools that can be adapted to contexts and needs in the service of a more inclusive kind of development.


Let’s have a look at the video playlist.


One problem means one new idea

Every deficiency has at least one solution, and it’s just a matter of identifying the one that suits best. This seems to be the idea that inspired the work of the participants in this first edition of the “ICT for Social Good” Grant.

So, if citizens in Bosnia-Herzegovina don’t feel safe enough, they can join forces with and help the police/public safety institutions to make their environment more secure by using Civil Patrols, a software that helps end users report illegal activities to the appropriate institutions via secure online communication channels.

To help the hearing-impaired in Colombia overcome communication barriers they encounter every day, a virtual interpreter is available on PCs and smartphones.

In Nigeria, in order to counter the black market for blood transfusions, and encourage the meeting and the exchange of information among donors, patients and health centers, Bukola Bolarinwa founded Haima Health Initiative, an application accessible on PCs and mobile devices.

In India, the Nyaaya platform supports citizens’ access to state laws with the use of guides and tutorials. Availability in various local languages ensures that everyone is able to truly understand his or her rights.

If traditional African identity and knowledge are likely to be lost, the app developed by Elizabeth Kperrun helps children rediscover fables in their local language, and have fun while learning in English, Hausa, Swahili, Igbo, and Yoruba, providing everyone with access to quality educational content.

According to the World Health Organisation, in Cameroon deaths caused by road accidents exceed those due to malaria by 40%. As a result Achiri Arnold Nji decided to develop Traveler, a platform that uses big data, GPS systems, and sensors to monitor the performance of bus drivers, improve passenger safety, and respond in case of accidents.


Social innovation is not just in the technology

Not everyone develops new or highly technological solutions. In Benin, where people with albinism still face prejudice and discrimination, Franck Hounsa educated a group of 20 albinos on blogging and digital writing so they can raise awareness on what this congenital disorder really is, to help prevent the spread of prejudice and discrimination and get other albinos out of isolation.
In Ivory Coast, Daniel Oulai combined offline and online methods through the creation of “Grainothèque” -the first Ivorian community library dedicated to seeds- created to preserve African biodiversity, and to ensure young farmers’ access to good quality native seeds. The project is accompanied by the creation of a web platform dedicated to agro-topics such as seed reproduction, how to adapt agricultural production to climate change, and how to improve the marketing of local products.


Agriculture and health among the most common themes

There are many solutions dedicated to agriculture, as well as products and services targeting women’s health and empowerment.

In Burundi, where access to the Internet is limited, social organisations have registered strong demand for good information on sexual and reproductive health issues. To cope with this need, Grâce Françoise Nibizi and SaCoDé association put in place an SMS information system.

While in Nigeria, Emmanuel Owobu created MobiCure, an app that allows mothers to monitor their children’s health and growth by receiving targeted information for various stages of their children’s development.

In Mozambique, Suzana Moreira is working to improve women’s access to entrepreneurship through a training program and a direct support system realised via SMS and social media.

Among the videos received, there are also some Italian examples. Organizations such as IPSIA, CINI Italia e Global Health Telemedicine Onlus presented innovative projects realized in different countries in the fields of education, women’s protection and struggle against early marriage, and telemedicine.

The basic rule for everyone is to focus on effectiveness, not on the use of technology in itself, but on the use of ICTs as tools to create a concrete and positive impact at a local level.



ICT for Social Good: a grant for local innovators

We believe that innovation is a powerful local development force, capable of generating ideas that transform the life of the communities. This is the reason why we decide to launch ICT for Social Good” – a grant for creative and groundbreaking ideas, using digital technology for positive social change.

Read more

Top 10 most innovative companies in Africa – Part I

Africa is full of innovation. Whether it is a startup, or a multinational company, Africa is bursting with potential when it comes to innovation in the fields of technology, applications, education and the ICT sector. According to, the latest list of the top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Africa has been revealed.

Eneza Education

For providing kids in rural Africa with a virtual tutor. The Kenyan startup, co-founded by two former members of Nairobi’s iHub community, creates educational content that kids in low-income rural areas can access on low-end cell phones. Through its “virtual classroom,” students between the ages of 11 and 18 can study subjects including math, science, and English, and take any of its 2,000 quizzes and more than 16,000 questions, with the option of a mini lesson if they score below 50%—all for the equivalent of 50 U.S. cents a month.

They can also search Wikipedia by sending a text message, or ask teachers questions and receive a response within an hour. Teachers can also assign homework through the platform and receive reports on student performance. By the end of 2014, Eneza had more than 375,000 users across Kenya, up from 143,000 the previous year, including in northeastern Kenya. It hopes to reach more than 1 million students in rural Africa this year, and 50 million in the next five years in at least 10 different African countries. Its focus will be on what it calls “the very end of the last mile”—students who have dropped out of school, girls in extremely impoverished areas, and children who can’t attend school due to conflict.


For facilitating e-commerce in Africa. Having raised around $100 million in investment since it launched in 2012, Konga has the potential to become an African e-commerce behemoth. But that’s not exactly what founder Sim Shagaya has in mind. “We don’t want to be Goliath,” he says. “We think the future in Africa belongs to a small army of Davids.” Konga, in other words, doesn’t want to be another e-commerce company, but enable other businesses to do e-commerce.

Since opening up Konga Marketplace to small and medium-size businesses via its SellerHQ marketplace in 2014, more than 10,000 traders have registered on the site, according to the company. Konga, whose revenue grew 450% from 2013 to 2014, also launched its private logistics company KExpress last year, after its third-party courier partners were unable to cope with the thousands of daily orders the site generated. In its own version of Black Friday, dubbed “Yakata,” sales passed $3.5 million, up 1,440% from its inaugural year of 2013. Konga plans to begin expanding into other sub-Saharan African countries in 2015, and raised more than $40 million in its latest financing round in October.


For changing the economics of Nollywood. As one of the first African video-on-demand companies to stream Nigerian Nollywood movies legally, iROKOtv has shown investors the potential of an industry that accounts for around 1.4% of GDP in Africa’s biggest economy. But iROKOtv isn’t just popular with Africans: Only 11% of its subscribers are in Africa, and it has subscribers in 172 countries.

Last year, iROKOtv began widening its appeal further by introducing Hollywood and Bollywood movies, telenovelas, and Korean soaps onto its platform—moves that, in fact, are geared toward increasing its subscription base in Africa, where people love international entertainment. And a streaming service is far more affordable there: Pay-TV subscriptions can cost up to $40 a month, but an iROKOtv subscription in Nigeria costs about $3.50 a month. The bet seemed to have paid off, with the company recording a 457% growth in subscriptions in Africa in 2014.


For inspiring a generation of digital learners. On Ubongo Kids, an educational cartoon broadcast daily on Tanzanian national TV, young viewers are encouraged to “tumia ubongo” (use your brain) through problem-solving activities, such as finding a new home for thousands of rats or beating a monkey at jump rope. Edutainment startup Ubongo launched the show in January 2014 and grew its reach to 1.4 million weekly viewers in Tanzania in just a year. The half-hour show, which is broadcast in the Kiswahili language and available in 1 million more households in east Africa, teaches primary school math and science topics.

Children can use basic mobile phones to answer multiple-choice questions via SMS and receive feedback from their favorite cartoon characters. “The demand is huge. We can’t keep up,” says cofounder and CEO Nisha Ligon. “The big complaint we get from viewers is that the show isn’t long enough.” An independent study commissioned by Ubongo last year showed that students who watched the show once a month for six months had significantly better numeracy scores than classmates who watched an alternative noneducational cartoon.

Leti Arts

For redefining entertainment in Africa. As one of the few interactive media studios in sub-Saharan Africa, Ghana’s Leti Arts is delivering entertainment content in largely unexplored genres. The startup develops mobile games and digital comics influenced by African history and folklore.

The company hopes a new generation of African kids will obsess over its superheroes rather than Western ones, and plans to develop Africa’s Legends into a broader franchise encompassing merchandise, animation, feature films, and theme parks. Leti Arts has also created games and apps for clients such as Microsoft, Intel, and Vodafone. It developed a civic-education game during Kenya’s 2012 elections and a training game for nurses and midwives simulating real-life health emergencies. It’s currently in the early stages of developing additional games with NGO partners in health and education.


Original source: itnewsafrica

Photo credit: RudolfSimon

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