Apply Now for 2015 eNGO Challenge

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The 2015 eNGO Challenge Award aspires to create an ecosystem by recognizing and honouring NGOs which are using Information Communication Technology (ICT) and digital media tools for good governance and practices that are benefiting societies and communities at large. It is a joint initiative of Public Interest Registry (PIR) and Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF).

The eNGO Challenge is open in six categories for best use of ICT, mobile, digital media & new or social media by an NGO for:

    • Best Use of Website & Internal Tools (Website):website
      This category focuses on NGOs that are using website to showcase their activities, projects and local content to get networking and support from funding agencies. This category also welcomes NGOs that create awareness on certain issues through campaigning.

 

  • Best Use of Mobile content & Apps (Mobile):mobile
    This category focuses on NGOs that have used mobile tools/Apps for their internal &external communication to drive social change. For example,an NGOis eligible to apply under this category that uses connectivity through mobile phones, sms, video calling or any other means to engage and empower communities at large.

 

 

  • Best Use of e-Commerce (e-Commerce):ecommerce
    This category focuses on NGOs who have used ICT and digital media tools such as e-Commerce, mobile phones, online shopping and social media networkssuch as Facebook & Twitter to promote their business meant for the benefit of a community. For example, an NGO is eligible to apply under this category that usesa website or social media networks for the promotion and trading of products for the benefit of a community.

 

 

  • Best Use of Software Automation & Networking (Tools):tools
    This category focuses on NGOs that use digital media tools for improving and enhancing their organizational efficiency by using networking and software tools such as Wi-Fi, Skype, Tally etc. For example,an NGO is eligible to apply under this category thatuses video-conferencing technology to connect with their regional partners or does staff capacity building program with various ICT tools.

 

 

  • Best Use of social Media (Social Media): Slocial Media
    The category focuses on NGOs that use social media as a tool to get solutions for and from the communities. For example, an NGOis eligible to apply under this category that uses Facebook and twitter to engage communities or inform them about issues.

 

 

  • Best use of e-Content (incl. Audio / Visual / Radio): econtent
    The category focuses on NGOs that empower people to use video or radio to help communities raise their voice for their problems. For example,an NGO is eligible to apply under this category that facilitates people to record video or participate through community radio to share messages or register complains or highlight social issues.

 

The eNGO Challenge Award is open to any registered NGO from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. There are no charges applicable for the eNGO Challenge Award Nomination process.

Your NGO should fulfill the conditions of being an active & ICT based organization. Interested entities can take part in eNGO Challenge by either applying online or contacting expert panel for the nomination process through engochallenge@gmail.com

Apply Now: 2015 ISIF Asia Awards

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The ISIF Asia Awards seek to acknowledge the important contributions ICT innovators have made with creative solutions to the social and economic development of the Asia Pacific region. The ISIF Asia Awards are granted to initiatives on the last stages of implementation or that have finalized activities already that are aligned with the funding categories and eligibility criteria.

Financial support for up to AUD 3,000 is allocated via a competitive process, plus a travel grant to attend the awards ceremony at a regional or global event chosen by the ISIF Asia secretariat. Innovation and a development focus should be an integral part of all award nominations.

Nominations for the 2015 ISIF Asia awards close 30 June 2015
Nominate your project now!
The funding categories are:

  • Innovation on access provision: Access to Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) is a prevalent issue in the Asia Pacific region, especially for services that require broadband connectivity. Innovative solutions offering low cost deployment, low power consumption and low maintenance that expanded fixed and mobile access to the internet through new forms of technical and organizational arrangements as well as improved the quality of access based on issues of accessibility, disability and linguistic diversity.
  • Innovation on learning and localization: Capacity building and localization efforts have been key to develop the skills needed to design, maintain, and manage ICT infrastructure and services in local languages, supporting local talent and creating job opportunities in rural or urban marginalized areas. Innovative, open, inclusive and sustainable approaches to learning and localization are key elements to guarantee the quality of access to knowledge needed to offer reliable services and applications.
  • Code for the common good: High mobile penetration in the AP region has been a catalyst in the development of mobile-based services, applications and software solutions. These solutions have been used to support timely and relevant information dissemination on a large scale using a range of network infrastructures through a variety of devices, even where literacy rates are lower. Mobile technologies have enabled communities to increase participation in political processes, coordinate efforts during emergency situations, receive extreme weather alerts, communicate with remote health services, and receive specialized patient referrals, among many other applications.
  • Rights: Strategic use of Internet tools and services to promote freedom of expression, freedom of association, privacy, security, consumers’ rights, gender equality, new forms of intellectual property in the digital environment, and a wider range of issues related to the Internet and human rights.

In addition to selecting a winner per category, a Community Choice Award will be granted to the best social media campaign (the project with the highest number of votes from the community).

What are you waiting for? Apply today!

Fighting Hepatitis in Rural Pakistan with Tele-Healthcare

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Viral hepatitis is the main cause of liver infection worldwide. In Pakistan outbreaks are frequent, and 7.4 percent of the population is infected with Hepatitis A and E. Many live in rural regions where there is no clean water and sanitation. In 2014, the Umrana Mumtaz Healthcare Trust decided it was time to tackle the issue, and this is a good news for the most disadvantaged!

A woman’s dream

One night in 2003, Mrs Umrana Mumtaz had a dream. She was dying from cancer, and yet, she dreamed of opening a small healthcare facility in rural Pakistan. She told her dream to her husband Ali. And since they had some money left despite her medical treatment, he swore to have her dream come true.

At the time, Mumtaz was working for the Ministry of Commerce and he had no experience in healthcare. But he is a man of action and he had been doing some social work for a long time. He decided to build a two-story hospital in the rural outskirts of Mardan in Northwest Pakistan. In the region, there were only two public hospitals, and they were located in the urban district. Most patients had to walk several hours to get treatment, whose quality was very poor. As a result, the local maternal mortality rate was high.

Telemedicine

Soon the UM Healthcare Hospital would welcome a hundred patients a day. For the doctors, it was overwhelming, as they had to treat an incredible variety of diseases. However well qualified they were, they did not have the required knowledge to treat them all.

Mumtaz thought ICTs could solve this issue. So he turned to his son Atif, who at the time had already started a few high-tech companies. With Stanford University, Atif developed Jaroka Tele-healthcare, the first telemedicine solution in Pakistan. Whenever the doctors faced a complex case, they could seek for advice from qualified specialists all around the world. They would email them the patient’s electronic medical record as well as the relevant photos and videos. This would allow the specialist to assess the situation and advise on the best procedures. For the patients, it meant they would get the best possible care, and the cost was minimal.

Sociocultural barriers

Jaroka also allowed the doctors to circumvent the local conservative culture. In the region of Madran it is considered shameful for a woman to see a male doctor. Well aware of the situation, Ali Mumtaz had hired a female physician, but she had to step down, leaving the job to the two male medical practitioners. So women became reluctant to come; they would also refuse to undress. Of course, this made examinations quite difficult.

This conservative culture is widespread in Pakistan. This is why in 1994 Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto launched the Lady Health Workers (LHWs) program. The goal was to ensure women have access to primary healthcare services. Today there are 110,000 LHWs across Pakistan, and over 70 percent of Pakistani rely on them for their medical needs.

Ali Mumtaz decided to use the Jaroka platform to connect the local LHWs with the doctors at the UM Healthcare Hospital. They distributed mobile phones to those operating in the region of Madran. When they had a doubt or did not know how to treat a patient, they would easily contact the doctors, so they could give them advice. Today 53 percent of the UM Healthcare Hospital’s patients are treated by Lady Health Workers using Jaroka.

The dream has gone beyond expectations

In only one decade, the dream of Mrs Umrana Mumtaz has come true, probably beyond her own expectations. Overall the UM Healthcare Hospital has provided medical treatment to over 200,000 patients, 90 percent of whom live beyond the poverty line. More recently, it has been tackling another critical public health issue: the prevalence of viral hepatitis in the region of Madran. For instance, at the UM Healthcare Hospital more than 20 percent of the patients suffer from Hepatitis A or E.

To try to eradicate the virus, Mumtaz and his team have been leveraging on the Jaroka setup. The Lady Health Workers raise awareness in the villages; they are also responsible for recording all the hepatitis cases they encounter. The data are then agglomerated in real time, allowing the UM Healthcare doctors to identify and prevent imminent outbreaks.

And since early detection is the key to complete recovery, it means that they are saving a lot of lives!

Google for Nonprofits Expands to 10 Asia-Pacific Economies

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Congratulations to non-governmental organizations in the Asia-Pacific region. In partnership withTechSoup, Google is now expanding its Google for Nonprofits program to ten new economies: Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Nonprofits can now apply to join the program to access a suite of free Google products and tools, including:

  • Google Ad Grants: Free AdWords advertising to promote their website on Google through keyword targeting.
  • Google Apps for Nonprofit: A free version of the Google Apps business productivity suite, including Gmail, Docs, Calendar, and more.
  • YouTube Nonprofit Program: Build their online presence with YouTube and overlay cards on their videos that link directly to their website.

Personally, I’ve used the Google for Nonprofits platform at two different organizations and it was a game-changer at both, specifically Google Apps.

The service can power enterprise-grade email services with a few clicks, giving organizations a legitimate yourname@NGOorganization.org email address (ie. not Gmail.com or Yahoo.com) and powerful email support systems that are actually easy to use. Google Apps also comes with their Drive, Sheets, Docs, and Forms tools, which can totally replace the Microsoft Office software suite and I find far superior to Microsoft’s online software products.

Nonprofits organizations can also leverage One Today, Google’s fundraising platform for Android devices. The app highlights cool projects from different organizations each day, and users can donate if they want to support the cause.

So if you have an NGO in the 10 new economies, get Google for Nonprofits today. You’ll be so glad you did!

ECHO: Improving Organizational Communications in Indonesia with Automated SMS and Email

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eHomemakers (eH), a Malaysian social enterprise with a vision to empower disadvantaged women, innovated and developed ECHO from the grassroot perspective. Necessity being the mother of invention, eHomemakers created the ECHO concept for non-profit organizations to save staff time and telecommunication resources as a means to overcome a lack of funding to market disadvantaged women’s ecobaskets.

From an integrated tool for middle class volunteers to use email to coordinate activities at the least cost possible to a message recipient platform for the poor, ECHO has developed into a cloud-based organizational management system using internet-mobile. ECHO enables organization to reach out to large groups of people in diverse locations through email and SMS via a centralized database. Its latest technical feature enhancement provides user friendliness to the visually impaired persons in full compliance with international guidelines.

With the help of a few national and international funders, 35 non-government organizations (NGOs) in Malaysia are now able to utilize ECHO and make substantial cost savings on their communications resources. Recent ECHO developments include deployment in Indonesia through HomeNet Indonesia (HI) for the purpose of increasing homeworkers’ fair wages. In alignment with Fair Trade concepts, HI uses its business center to bring homeworker members’ products directly to the market without recourse to middlemen.

ECHO Technology

ECHO technology involves 3 components –

  1. An application server (Web server)
  2. Mobile app causing phones to act as SMS gateways
  3. Target recipient’s mobile phones to receive and reply SMS.
  4. The mobile app was developed to allow android phones to act as SMS modems and thereby overcome the expense of renting SMS gateways from national telecoms providers. It represents a minimal cost solution to NGOs.

    ECHO Functionality

    The ability of this powerful planning and organizing tool to send either email or SMS in bulk, as well as auto-summarizing replies with reports, provides a proven means for increased productivity (instant replies) and substantial savings on total admin staff costs. ECHO can be utilized for activities such as, but not limited to:

    • Invitation and confirmations from members for upcoming events, meetings, trainings, seminars, volunteer activity placements
    • Conducting surveys on groups and target segments
    • Group sourcing of raw materials
    • Organizing production chains
    • Consolidation of sales items from marketing networks
    • Bulk marketing of goods and services produced by beneficiaries and members

    ECHO and HI Indonesia

    HomeNet Indonesia (HI), also known as Mitra Wanita Pekerja Rumahan Indonesia (MWPRI), is a national network of NGOs that addresses concerns regarding the welfare and socio-economic well being of home-based working members. These workers generally are poor women with low education or literacy levels, live in rural and urban areas, and struggle to earn a livelihood through jobs issued from sub-contractors, middlemen or brokers. HI, in collaboration with eH, is currently paving the way for poverty alleviation through Fair Trade with the use of ECHO.

    In order for HI to pay a Fair Trade wage to its members, there must be cost reductions in administration, marketing, and procurement of raw materials. The use of ECHO allows for savings of up to 98% in costs associated with organizing. As an example situation, an HI business center staff member receives an Internet order of a product. This staff member then distributes a single ECHO message to 100 makers, whereby they are requested to each provide their own production number for this product. These makers revert to confirm their production amount, and the staff member next checks the cumulative total of quoted units against the number required in the order. The staff member can subsequently revert to the customer with a very fast turnaround to accept or decline his/her order, and initiate production activities. Admin costs without ECHO are much higher due to the necessity of phone calls, one-to-one SMS, or face-to-face meeting.

    The business center method provides efficiency gains that effectively enable Fair Wage (under Fair Trade principles), which allows the poor to receive better remuneration and lessen the trappings of poverty.

    Hurdles

    Hurdles in deploying ECHO in HI can be categorized into either 1) technological, or 2) human aspects.

    Technological hurdles within Indonesia include unstable mobile signal coverage, latency in sending and receiving SMS (5 mins to 12 hours), and unstable Internet that delays SMS response. These drawbacks will be increasingly diminished in coming years, as Indonesia’s high economic growth spurs greater investment in telco infrastructure and a consequent better technology performance.

    Resistance to change is commonly found during organizational development phases. The ease of acceptance of ICT is far higher for younger home workers than for the older generation. Women home workers who have limited education often feel that they are too old to learn new technology, and some of them cite difficulty as the reason behind their reluctance to use SMS (send and reply). Calling from a phone kiosk is much faster for them, albeit at a far higher cost.

    An entrenched manual-based organizational work culture presents a barrier in implementing ICT, wherein a considerable amount of time is typically required for workers to internalize training session information and apply new ICT basic skills. This gap of understanding was found to exist among office workers above 40 years of age who were familiar with a paper-laden office culture, wherein decision-making was centralized and dictated by the top management. In such environments, lower level staff would print emails for senior staff to read, and transcript electronic replies on behalf of these senior staff.

    Changing from an NGO management style into one more suited to a social enterprise resulted in HI coming under considerable pressure to deliver: HI needed to get the business center moving as soon as possible and adequately organize homeworkers to produce quality products for sale. The staff of HI found themselves pushing to improve the prevalent mentality towards work and communication efficiency.

    Engagement and future

    Many ICT-based social development projects are experimental, and therefore new to the providers as well as the end-users. At this point, 300 out of 10000 HI members were selected to participate in the ECHO training course. Deploying ECHO in HI has led to change momentum being initiated, whereby participants recognized the inherent advantages and loosened their embrace of the old style.

    The use of ECHO for HI enabled the organization to realize the extent of their learning curve in order to cope with office ICT. A few key personnel have learnt additional IT-based project management skills and awareness of hitherto unknown tools such as online photo storage for products.

    HI members are becoming more aware of utilizing ICT and SMS, and are thus able to achieve greater reach with less cost and more effectiveness. Campaigns on issues related to women homeworkers are distributed through social media, and so become a source of information for cases, problems, and the needs of women homeworkers in Indonesia.

    It is acknowledged that HI requires more time to increase the capacity and spread the habit of using ICT, since HI staff and its members are not familiar with technology in their daily lives. Nevertheless, positive signs have emerged since the key phase of change momentum has been initiated. As such, the next step of reaching out to the remaining 9700 HI members is anticipated with a sense of optimism to match the altruistic vision of the founders.

    By Yeo Lee Chin, Usability Coordinator (ECHO), eHomemakers