Every second week we will be hosting a group of school girls for the introduction to social media and the various tools on the World Wide Web. The social media classes forms part of their life skills for the year. These sessions are facilitated by 2009 mom2.0 graduate Rae Goedeman. Rae is a widow from the Bridgetown Community, who has acquired the necessary skills, and has taken the initiative to present social media tools to these young women who come from difficult and challenging backgrounds.
We barely touched the surface on social media platforms, such as Blogging, Micro-Blogging, Facebook and Video Photo Sharing sites. The students has never used Social Media tools or really any web literacy experience. This will make them a perfect candidate for Social Media Experts, and not only will they be in a position to share a message of hope to others in their community but they can then facilitate the next batch of students. The focus is “Social Media for Social Change”.
There has been an increase demand for reaching emerging markets using technology (ICT4D initiatives). No other technology like the mobile phone have the reach of impacting people on a large scale as required in these markets. With most emerging countries (African Mobile Access and Usage)having high mobile penetration, there is a need for more mobile innovations for social change. With South Africa having over 35 Million active mobile users (Study by World Wide Worx – See SA Mobile graph below) the scope for providing business, social, healthcare, educational and other services to the mobile population should not be ignored.
The change of mindset by developers and innovators are needed with the realisation that most technology adopters are mobile primary users and that the future of Social Change lies with Mobile Innovation.
Today learners from Hanover Park came for Social Media training with RLabs that will be hosted over the next 2 days. Ten learners who are in need of job readiness skills were introduced to basic social media skills, email, Google Docs, information searching and gathering, filesharing sites, blogging and micro-blogging. This is a continuous effort by RLabs to take Social Media skills to local communities and to empower citizens with how it could be used in their everyday life and work environment.
This morning a number of the RLabs team went to schools across the Western Cape to share the Mobile Counselling service with the learners. These roadshows are part of a RLabs project to support children at risk who are impacted by substance abuse and who are at risk. This initiative is support by a number of local Non-profit organisations who offer support and professional counselling services. The mobile counselling at schools are an ideal opportunity for schools to identify problems and support learners who previously were unable to access services. With a 1 to 40 Social Worker to Number of Schools ratio it is no surprise that the service already attracted over a thousand learners in need. Mobile phones are not just communication devices but can be used in developing communities to provide support and access to services for citizens in these communities.
Yesterday we launched the second year of our Mom 2.0 programme where we teach women from our community (Buzz at RLabs above)how to use Social Media to share stories, local news and to connect with other women globally. This year’s programme will be different in we will not just explore various Social Media technologies but we will also use a different approach of empowering these women. Although many of these women come from different backgrounds that include no computer literacy, literacy problems and fear for computers we are sure to have an exciting year ahead. The programme will be managed by last year Reconstructed and Mom 2.0 graduates giving them an opportunity to share their experiences with other community members.
Some of the areas in Social Media that we will focus on are Social networking sites, blogging, micro-blogging, file-sharing sites and mobile social networks. We also had guests from Finland who joined us at the launch who shared some insights to the group about Living Labs and the importance of the Reconstructed Living Lab (RLabs). With such a great start to the year we are definitely in for a wonderful time and seeing more of our community members being part of the Social Media Factory.
Over the past few years mobile banking and reaching the unbanked have proved to be invaluable to the African Economy. Payment products such as M-Pesa have proved to be popular in countries such as Kenya but yet to be adopted in the South African context. However, with hundreds of thousands in South African prisons it was no surprise to see how inmates start using mobile technology as a banking tool. In recent times inmates have been using cell phone airtime as a “Prison Currency” in exchange for other goods in the prison cells. As an inmate told me that airtime is a high commodity in the prisons. It is also easy to transfer as they just exchange the “airtime pin numbers” in exchange for their goods. Its “virtual money” that can move easily into the prisons and across various holding cells and sections.
A typical example of the value of this new “Prison Currency” is R15 airtime (US$2) will be worth a minimum of R30 (US$4) (two times its actual value) or smaller amounts could be negotiated at a higher exchange rate (3 times the airtime value). The most common airtime exchange amounts is the R10 – R15 (US$1.50 – US$2) and this seems to be the ideal amount to be used as a day-to-day payment method. It would be interesting to see what the value of the “Prison Economy” is and how technology are being used to drive this economy that has a greater demand for airtime than any other goods or services in the prisons across South Africa.
After 6 weeks of distributed mobile counselling for learners at schools who are in need of support with the problem of substance abuse, MoCo (Our Mobile Counselling service) have reached a thousand users with an average of 20 users being supported in 4 hours.
The service is a clear indication that organisations who wish to reach youth with specialised services need to consider mobile phones as a device to reach these young people. Adoption of the service has been good and many of the young people even want to offer peer support to friends and family members.
The Mobile Counsellors have also proved to increase productivity with counselling activity increasing over the last few weeks. The longest conversation we’ve had via our service was 233 messages in 2hours and 13minutes. More recent numbers for our service can be read here. With the pilot going so well we are hoping to expand the services to other parts of the country during 2010. Exciting year ahead…
Only 5 weeks away to one of Cape Town’s most exciting Mobile events to date, its the official launch of the Betavine Social ExchangeCape Town Developer Day. This will be a great opportunity for local mobile developers to develop relevant localised solutions for communities in need of specialised mobile solutions. With such a great resource of mobile developer and innovators talent it is definitely an event to look forward to. The Cape Town Mobile Developer Day will be hosted at Daylight Studio, Greenpoint, Cape Town, South Africa (10 March 2010) and the focus is Mobile Technology for Social Change. This event is FREE and open to everyone looking to use Mobile Phones for Social Good.
Sharing some RLabs stories of Brent, Clive and Rae the show highlights how we are pursuing to bring about social change using technologies in its simplest form. The Social Media Factory was also introduced and definitely worth a listen to the new developments at RLabs. You can listen to the podcast or download it here.