Monday, November 13, 2006

Gates Project 17: Is it elegant yet?

I have come up with a provisional structure for our funding proposals to the Gates Foundation. I want our final proposal to be far-reaching, holistic, and elegant, appreciating the complexity of e-advocacy while at the same time proposing solutions in a simple structure. My goal is a proposal that is not just judicious and well-researched, but also well-designed. I currently plan to suggest funding at three levels that represent the foundation, function, and future of e-advocacy:

1. Access: In the global south, access to internet is quite low, rarely rising about a 15% penetration rate and often dipping below 5%. While high cellphone penetration rates, which are often several times as high internet rates, can make up for this loss in connectivity, internet access is extremely important because it is a platform for a much wider array of e-advocacy applications. There are multiple funding opportunities for access, and Iwill most likely focus on Africa, where internet acces is lowest. I am currently leaning towards solar-powered wireless solutions.

2. Implementation: It does not matter what technologies are available for non-profits in the global south if they are unaware of them or unable to implement them. In order to increase NGO e-advocacy capacity, a broad program of personalized support is needed. I will most likely propose an eRider program. eRiders are technology and strategy consultants that work with multiple organizations, thus allowing each organization that they work for the benefit of a technology expert without the cost of hiring a new staff person. The eRider model has been successfully implemented in South Africa and many other developing and transitional countries throughout the world.

3. Innovation: A funding structure that stops at the implementation of existing tools is incomplete. The field of e-advocacy in the global south is quite new and the greatest innovations are yet to come. In addition, it is very important that innovations are shared so that others may benefit from them. The final proposal is for a program to nurture innovation in the area of e-advocacy in the global south. The program would be run by a coalition of global south organizations and would carry out many activities such as: a fellows program to develop e-advocacy leaders in the region, conferences and convenings to allow innovators from different countries and fields to meet and share ideas face-to-face, cataloguing and pointing to the different advocacy tools already available in order to raise awareness of e-advocacy options, prizes for innovation in various e-advocacy fields both to encourage and reward innovators.

Is it elegant yet? If not, why?

categories: internet activism_, gates project_, the "developing world"_,

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