Results tagged “USAID” from Wayan Dot Com

Goodbye Inveneo, the best job I've ever had

| in ICT4D

peace out, inveneo

Four and a quarter years ago, I joined Inveneo with the dream to accomplish three goals with the company. I aimed to grow the local ICT partner program to a market differentiator for Inveneo, raise the company's profile in the Washington DC market, and get Inveneo on large USAID programs.

I am proud to say that I've achieved each of my goals.

  1. The ICIP program grew to be what sets Inveneo apart from all other ICT companies and has become a major reason we are sought out as a partner and implementer. Now under the leadership of FJ Cava, the program has achieved success in Haiti and around the world beyond my expectations and has inspired similar efforts at other organizations.
  2. Unquestionably, Inveneo is now known in Washington DC. Today, it's rare that I have to explain what Inveneo does or even hand out a business card. All the major players know of Inveneo, many of their staff have met Inveneo staff personally, and the conversations start with "How can we partner?" - with real business opportunity in mind.
  3. Inveneo is now sought out as the preferred technology partner for major USAID RFPs and IQC's, to the point where Inveneo is on multiple primes' proposals as the exclusive ICT solution designer and implementer.

In addition, Inveneo now has a deep pool of staff that can support its Washington, DC business. Sybille Fleischmann has ICT in education deployment experience from Microsoft and in Haiti that eclipses my own. Lisa Lin brings deep experience with USAID contracts beyond any level of detail I would ever want to have. Kristin Peterson and the sales team know their way around the different contracting vehicles and how to read the proposal and partnering tealeaves.

Moving On

So it's with the satisfaction of knowing I've propelled Inveneo into the highest levels of international development that I now take my leave from the organization. I am moving on from Inveneo on September 7th with a full heart of goodwill and happiness for the organization and my departure from it.

I feel truly blessed to have worked at Inveneo for the last four years. I loved, LOVED, every minute of it, often to the point of tears when I saw our impact on the communities we serve. It was truly the best job I've ever had.

I will cherish the working relationship I've had with the Inveneo team. I will especially miss Kristin and Mark, who were more than my bosses - they became great friends to me and I appreciated their continued support and endless patience.

The Next Challenge

Yet its time for me to take on a new marketing challenge with another organization. Starting September 10th, I will be joining Development Gateway in Washington DC. They develop results monitoring and big data ICT solutions for bilateral and multilateral donors and national governments and are instrumental in supporting the growing momentum around the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI).

Not to worry, I will still be in the ICT4D space and I will not forget Inveneo. I will continue to be a tireless advocate for both. I will start by suggesting that you subscribe to ICTworks, one of the many initiatives I started at Inveneo that I know will live on well past my exit.

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I'm proud to announce the publication of USAID's First Principles: Designing Effective Education Programs Using Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Compendium, to which I contributed during its formation and development. Yes, I am even listed as an author on the back cover with Anthony Bloome, Ed Gaible, Analice Schwartz, and Janel Hoppes Poché.

USAID-ICT4E-Wayan-Vota.jpg

Designing Effective Education Programs Using ICT provides important overview guidance for designing and implementing education programs that use technology. The principles and indicators are primarily meant to guide program designs, including the development of requests for and subsequent review of proposals, the implementation of program activities, and the development of performance management plans, evaluations, and research studies.

The First Principles series are intended to help USAID education officers specifically, as well as other stakeholders--including staff in donor agencies, government officials, and staff working for international and national non-governmental organizations--take advantage of good practices and lessons learned to improve projects that involve the use of education technology.

The guidance in this document is meant to be used and adapted for a variety of settings to help USAID officers and others grapple with the multiple dimensions of ICT in education and overcome the numerous challenges in applying ICT in the developing-country contexts. The last section provides references for those who would like to learn more about issues and methods for supporting the education of the underserved.

Designing Effective Education Programs Using ICT is based on extensive experience in, and investigation of, current approaches to technology in education and draws on research literature, interviews with USAID field personnel, and project documentation. It also includes profiles of projects funded by USAID and others.

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The rise of the smartphone has unleashed a wave of excitement and income generation across the software development community. Applications that can run on iPhones, Android phones and Blackberry's, can be written quickly, and on the cheap, and have generated outsized returns for their creators.

Even more impressive is that this application revolution is just starting. As Darrell Owen pointed out in the Apps4D presentation at a Business Growth Initiative meeting, iPhone adoption is growing at an order of magnitude faster than any other Internet technology - 11x the rate of AOL at its peak.

In addition, smartphone adoption in the developing world is only at 3-5%, compared with 70-80% for mobile phones in general. Smartphones are the emerging middle class aspiration, and will be the mark of financial arrival that can be conspicuously displayed for all to see.

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So the demand is there for smartphone applications in the developing world. Around this demand, Darrell and Steve Schmida ask three very pivotal questions to the international development community:

  1. Does smartphone application development offer a real opportunity for advancing entrepreneurship in the developing world?
  2. How could donors facilitate the efforts of private industry to accelerate application development?
  3. What impact would investments in application development have on international development goals?

To these three questions, I propose these answers on how software application development can be an engine for entrepreneurship and economic growth in the developing world, on a limited basis.

Smartphone applications are within reach of African developers

Right now, Facebook is driving ICT adoption in Africa. But Facebook is not coded in Africa - its written in Silicon Valley, where the majority of commercial and website software comes from. Yet there are a number of successful software companies in Africa.

In fact, MXit, a mobile social network holds its own in South Africa and just expanded into Kenya with Safaricom.

In addition, software development centers like Accra, Lagos, Nairobi, and Kampala are churning out applications for smartphones and even basic mobile phones, which can only SMS. Applications like OhmSMS and iWarrior show you what's possible - and that's without any donor support.

Donor support would increase competitiveness

Now imagine if these same mobile application software developers had access to mentoring from established leaders in the field, if they were able to share experiences and resources with their peers in a results-focused environment, and if seed funding and growth financing were easy to obtain.

That's exactly what Limbe Labs and Appfrica Labs are attempting to bootstrap with their incubators. And its what infoDev at World Bank aims to achieve with its Regional Mobile Applications Laboratory grants - seeding world-class entrepreneurship in at least two locations in Africa.

Donor support would increase diversity

The private sector will be quick to capitalize on Africa's software development for their own mobile applications - and let them. The donor community should leverage this opportunity to ensure there are social development applications as well. Just look at what the Kenya ICT Board is doing.

They're investing $4 million in grants from the World bank's International Development Association for mobile applications to enhance citizen participation in eGovernment.

I could see an Apps4D program using the same approach to bring eGovernment services to businesses, or eLearning to expand the reach of secondary or adult education.

Apps4D would have limited employment impact

Before we get too excited about Apps4D, a little history. Back when every country thought they could become a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) hub, like India, by proclaiming themselves a Silicon Valley and investing in software development industries, USAID spent many millions on improving software development business skills and enabling environments.

The expectation was that BPO would magically employ thousands and the IT industry would be the path to middle class incomes for all. That didn't happen, and BGI found little long-term employment impact from all those millions.

But that should not be a surprise - IT isn't a high-employment industry. It only takes a handful of coders to produce the most elaborate software. One person can write good mobile software applications, which is both a strength and a weakness.

Homegrown success would be an inspiration

Youth are the largest cohort of unemployed in Africa, with young males the most listless. Yet they're also the most tech-savvy and mobile phone addicted. By showcasing one or two young mobile application software development stars, coders who make it relatively big through their apps, we could engage an entire generation to focus on positive role models.

Just look at the following Google has across Africa at their developer-focused Google Technology User Groups - software development hopefuls flock to their meetings.

Still, there isn't a need for that many software developers. So don't expect an Apps4D program have a big employment impact. It will only create a handful of good jobs. Instead, measure it by how many youth look to mobile application development as an inspiration for the basics of good grades and dedication to employment.

Apps4D should be a targeted investment

While mobile software application development can be an engine for entrepreneurship and economic growth in the developing world, it should only have a small role within a larger context. It's the sizzle that can help sell the development basics of improvements in education, employment, and business climate.

At a few hundred thousand dollars, the infoDev regional mobile application labs are a rounding error in USAID mission budgets, yet imagine the positive publicity and impact when one of them creates the next ChildCount+ or Ushahidi!

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The Technology Salon returns to Washington DC this September 25th to explore an innovative initiative from USAID: ICT4D Challenges.


Let's solve his ICT4D challenges

Akin to the contests that had Lindbergh cross the Atlantic and Rutan/Branson cross into space, ICT4D challenges (contests, makeovers, and competitions) will leverage user-driven innovation to create ICT-based solutions for major development challenges, with the incentive of cash prizes and possible inclusion in a USAID project.

These challenges will spur innovation at the nexus of development and technology while forging new connections between the technology and development communities.

What better forum to explore where USAID is going with these challenges and help shape that path than the Technology Salon, our intimate and informal discussion of technology and development?

Leading the conversation will be Seema Patel, Alliance and Management Specialist for DAI, who is consulting with USAID on the Global Development Commons Initiative - the sponsor of the ICT4D challenges. Our gracious host is the UN Foundation and I'll have coffee and donuts for a good morning sugar rush to wake everyone up.

September Technology Salon: USAID ICT4D Challenges
Thursday, September 25th, 8:30-10am,
UN Foundation Conference Room
1800 Mass Avenue, NW, Suite 400,
Washington, D.C. 20036 (map)
Do note that seating is limited and the UN Foundation is in a secure building. So the first dozen (12) to RSVP will be confirmed attendance and then there will be a waitlist.

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