I remember like it was yesterday, when I got a call in September 2000 and asked if I would be willing to teach the C++ programming class on a part-time basis at Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) (Thanks to Corrie Uys for the suggestion and making that call). I never for a minute thought that I would be with CPUT for over 10 years!!
It was therefore with great sadness that I had to make the decision to say goodbye to CPUT tomorrow and starting a new journey as a Social Entrepreneur with RLabs and managing JamiiX. The time in the Information Technology department was a memorable one where I met amazing students along the way and really worked with the best group of people ever. We shared so much together, tears, laughter, failure and successes but above all I’ve met a group of people who are leaving a lasting memory with me and who I will never be able to forget. Many have become more than just work colleagues to me but friends for life and who I am forever grateful for their contribution to where I am today. It was also at CPUT that I had a mentor and mother in Retha de la Harpe who was very instrumental in the journey that I’ve embarked on and who I will forever be indebted for her sacrifice and belief in me and my abilities. To all my colleagues over the years in the IT Department (Wilhelm Rothman – My Hero, David Makola – My good friend, Kirstin Krauss – My partner in crime, Estelle Zietsman, Johan Uys, Kruben Naidoo, Chris Kies, Nazier Paulsen, Euphias Rhode, Jay Barnes, Michelle Barnes, Denise Lakay, Tem, Karen, Ashraf, Mike (will be missed and who passed away), and everyone academic and support colleagues who I had the honour and privilege to work with…) and our Head of Department – Bennett Alexander for being so supportive to the work I’ve embarked on. A special thank also to Colleen Murphy, an amazing woman who was our department secretary but above all a true friend, I am forever grateful for her friendship and also being there when I needed her support the most. To our Dean of the Faculty of Informatics and Design, Johannes Cronje, who always believed in me and to the rest of the staff in the faculty for the friendships and partnerships we formed over the last few years since the merger of CPUT. Other colleagues from faculties of Business, Finance and Research who truly left a lasting impression on me and for the great friendships that grew from these relationships.
After such an amazing time with CPUT this new journey is one that is unknown, but above all it is the one that I will take in a mission to reach a third of the world’s population with a message of hope in my lifetime through the work that I am embarking on. It is here where I will share that journey of hope, change, community, technology and innovation that will become my life’s mission and goal that cannot be achieved without those who have impacted me at CPUT, in the past and those who I will meet on this Quest.
Since the visit to Malaysia and Singapore a month ago it is with great excitement to see how the RLabs Champions have taken to task in making a difference in the lives of other. One of the projects by RLabs Asia is creating programmes for Non-profits, NGOs and Social Organisations who can benefit from the use of Social Media for Social Change.
Each group of Champions will be working closely with a organisation doing work on the ground in a local community in Asia and provide support in how Social Media and Mobile Technology can be used to enhance the work these organisations are doing. To read more about the RLabs Asia team visit their blog and we will keep you updated about this exciting initiative where we see young people impacting their communities using the technology tools and skills they use daily.
A famous quote states that “A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step” and that is what the journey of RLabs have been over the last few years. A global movement where technology and innovation are used to address local problems and bring about social transformation has been such a journey.
This past week I had the privilege sharing the RLabs story with the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) Graphic Design students and what an interesting response I had. It was also a wonderful opportunity to learn what some of the students were doing to make a social difference in their community. The question that was asked on a number of occasions was how do you grow a sustainable project in a community without being reliant on only donor funding? That in itself is another interesting post for sustainable models for social projects but I wanted to share the following three points in how we’ve managed to sustain our projects in RLabs:
1) You need human resources (PEOPLE) and we’ve done that successfully by gathering a group of champions from all over the world who are passionate about the Social Revolution.
2) We maximize our resources and skills available to us in order to grow the movement and the work we are doing in communities.
3) Use the power of Social Media to engage with people who are willing to provide their support (skills or finances) to your project. Do not use the tools to ask for money or resources but rather use it as a means to have more meaningful engagement.
The above points are just some of the lessons we’ve learned to grow a sustainable movement for Social Transformation and this could also be used in your social project in making a difference in the lives of others.
Over the last few weeks the RLabs Academy in Cape Town, South Africa has really been growing from strength to strength. With more than a hundred members being empowered with various skills from Social Media, Entrepreneurship, Multimedia to Mobile and Software Development. A new exciting project a partnership between RLabs Academy and MoVigo Technologies will be extending its educational services to more of the community members in impoverished parts of Cape Town.
The project objective is simple providing basic technology training for community members based on the number of Facebook Likes achieved via the RLabs Page. MoVigo Technologies will sponsor a learnership to a training RLabs Academy training programme for every 50 Likes on the RLabs Facebook Page.
For example if we achieve 10,000 Likes on the RLabs Facebook Page then 200 learnerships will be sponsored to community members. So why not join the Social Revolution and make a difference in the lives of others by a simple “Like”.
I’ve now been in Asia for two weeks and lots of exciting things are happening with the launch of RLabs as well as JamiiX and amazing to see how people are maximising the use of technology in their lives. However, for me personally there has a massive transition and change that took place and my life will never be the same again. It is while on this exciting journey with young people and great minds alike that led me to this new journey of longing to reach at least 1 third of the World’s population in my lifetime and leaving a positive footprint through the work of RLabs and other initiatives that I am involved in.
This journey is not a solo journey but one of people reaching out to others in need and I do see technology playing a big role in this. This is the reason for the change in title of this blog and new “feel” to keep you updated on what is happening on this journey. You can still expect technology insights, interviews, research and all things fun related to innovation and technology. For now this pursuit of a dream has begun and I am excited to have shared it with you as we together strive to reach that 2 Billion people in 1 Lifetime.
An interesting presentation presented by Dr. Alex Osterwalder on how Entrepreneurship is beyond just profit but always should have a social and environmental impact. Definitely some good insights into Business Models for Social Entrepreneurs.