After an exciting launch last month RLabs is now accepting applications for the Innovation Incubator & Accelerator 2013 cycle. We are looking for 5 social innovators who would like to take their idea to market and change the world doing so. The venue for incubation will be at the RLabs offices in Bridgetown, Cape Town and starts February till October 2013.
If you want to apply, send your idea via our contact page (describe in less than 200 words) by 17 December 2012. We will invite the most promising teams/ideas to present their idea on the 10 January 2013 to our panel where our selection will take place.
We will include in our decision making the amount we will invest which normally up to $20,000 for % equity in your company. The investment is a facility that you will have access to over the 9 months with RLabs.
We provide you with a desk/open space that you can use while in the Incubator. During the 9 month cycle we expect you to attend our weekly workshops and mentorship meetings. We will also invite experts to do special guest talks with all the start-up founders. You are also encouraged to be part of the Silicon Cape Network to leverage the resources and events hosted by this network.
The highlight of the incubation cycle is the RLabs Launch Day (next year to be held on the 10th October 2013) where all the startups are required to demo and showcase what they’ve been working on since inception. After the launch day RLabs continue to give advice and support but the access to the invest facility will end.
What are we looking for in founders are simple. We look for the “Crazy ones” who is innovative, highly motivated and not scared to take the risks (Experience and design flair is always welcomed). The ideas (which we believe will change) should at a minimum fulfill the following 3 criteria:
1) Idea that makes a social impact and leveraging mobile and internet technologies
2) Idea that have some insight into how to sustain the social impact and business
3) Idea that can be scalable and replicable
The ideal company would have 2/3 team members but we will consider one-person ideas. If you have what it takes message us here and tell us why you believe you should be in the RLabs Innovation Incubator.
After an eventful 2011 with more than 250 graduates, the RLabs Academy in Cape Town is launching exciting new courses with an offering of 16 courses for 2012. The courses include Social Media, Web and Multimedia, Entrepreneurship as well as Leadership courses. Registration will take place during January 2012 and all courses offered are FREE on a first come basis.
You can view the full list of courses offered here.
“Uusi” – meaning New in Finnish
After 18 months of conceptualizing, testing and getting community members to engage with it on different platforms, Uusi the brain-child of one of the RLabs champions, Terence Hendricks, finally was privately released to the public only on the MXit platform. Using MXit as the launchpad was an obvious choice in the South African market with an estimated user base of over 37 Million users.
It was also amazing to see the overwhelming response from our users that we had more than 40,000 active job seekers searching via Uusi and over 1,200 mobile CVs created in 72 hours.
Uusi is a mobile social network that provides its community members access to employment, business and educational opportunities through its network. It was also presented at the World Wide Web conference in September 2010 (see abstract) when the first version of the idea was being tested in the Western Cape region of South Africa. This first phase release of Uusi allows a MXit user to signup and search for relevant jobs according to their needs and criteria.
Uusi is also one of the start-up social enterprises that will be incubated and accelerated through the RLabs Innovation Incubator and Accelerator programme. Additional expansion to the project is under development and will be released over the next few weeks as part of the build-up to the official launch of Uusi end of 2011 truly giving its members their “New Beginning”.
Last week the RLabs Nigeria partners had an interesting call discussing the rollout of the new project that will be using technology to address the problems of HIV. This partnership between Youth for Technology and RLabs will be supported by Indigo Trust who is know for its impact investments in Africa.
The next few weeks the teams in South Africa, Nigeria and United States will be working towards its launch date with a training bootcamp for young people aged 16 – 25. Not only will they be able to benefit from digital training but they will also become part of the larger RLabs Global Movement where we hope to leverage the expertise of our network.
The technology training with the young people will include the following components:
1) Social Media for Social Change
2) Digital Change Agents
3) JamiiX Mobile Counselling
4) Digital Storytelling
The planned launch is for January 2012 and with only a few weeks to prepare our team is excited to see RLabs Nigeria making an impact in the communities growing the Social Revolution.
Hivos (The Hague) and The Centre for Internet and Society (Bangalore) consolidate their 3 year knowledge inquiry into the field of youth, technology and change in the 4 book collective “Digital AlterNatives with a cause?”. I’ve had the privilege of being part of this journey and under the supervision of Nishant Shah and Fieke Jansen (editors of the book), this initiative asks critical and pertinent questions about theory and practice in the world of Digital Natives.
The books can be downloaded below:
Book 1: To Be: Digital AlterNatives with a Cause? Download here
The first part, To Be, looks at the questions of digital native identities. Are digital natives the same everywhere? What does it mean to call a certain population ‘Digital Natives”? Can we also look at people who are on the fringes – Digital Outcasts, for example? Is it possible to imagine technology-change relationships not only through questions of access and usage but also through personal investments and transformations? The contributions help chart the history, explain the contemporary and give ideas about what the future of technology mediated identities is going to be.
Book 2: To Think: Digital AlterNatives with a Cause? Download here
In the second section, To Think, the contributors engage with new frameworks of understanding the processes, logistics, politics and mechanics of digital natives and causes. Giving fresh perspectives which draw from digital aesthetics, digital natives’ everyday practices, and their own research into the design and mechanics of technology mediated change, the contributors help us re-think the concepts, processes and structures that we have taken for granted. They also nuance the ways in which new frameworks to think about youth, technology and change can be evolved and how they provide new ways of sustaining digital natives and their causes.
Book 3: To Act: Digital AlterNatives with a Cause? Download here
To Act is the third part that concentrates on stories from the ground. While it is important to conceptually engage with digital natives, it is also, necessary to connect it with the real life practices that are reshaping the world. Case-studies, reflections and experiences of people engaged in processes of change, provide a rich empirical data set which is further analysed to look at what it means to be a digital native in emerging information and technology contexts.
Book 4: To Connect : Digital AlterNatives with a Cause? Download here
The last section, To Connect, recognises the fact that digital natives do not operate in vacuum. It might be valuable to maintain the distinction between digital natives and immigrants, but this distinction does not mean that there are no relationships between them as actors of change. The section focuses on the digital native ecosystem to look at the complex assemblage of relationships that support and are amplified by these new processes of technologised change.
We see this book as entering into a dialogue with the growing discourse and practice in the field of youth, technology and change. The ambition is to look at the digital (alter)natives as located in the Global South and the potentials for social change and political participation that is embedded in their interactions through and with digital and internet technologies. We hope that the book furthers the idea of a context-based digital native identity and practice, which challenges the otherwise universalist understanding that seems to be the popular operative right now. We see this as the beginning of a knowledge inquiry, rather than an end, and hope that the contributions in the book will incite new discussions, invoke cross-sectorial and disciplinary debates, and consolidate knowledges about digital (alter)natives and how they work in the present to change our futures.
Currently in Amsterdam and over the last few weeks I’ve really been thinking about startups and the impact they can have in Society. It is also very difficult to find startups that adds value and meaning in society. Everyone wants to create the next BIG thing to be the next Facebook or Twitter, yet there are so many opportunities in creating startups that can make a difference and address the needs of society.
This was one of the reasons for starting RLabs, a Social Enterprise that uses web and mobile technologies to empower, equip communities and addresses the needs of people in need. Since the existence of RLabs it has empowered more than 4,000 people with digital literacy at NO COST and created support services to more than a million users over the last 3 years.
Currently RLabs have an incredible team of 28 full-time champions who are making a difference daily and RLabs as a startup also expanded its services and activity to 13 countries. So after this experience I share the following FOUR reasons why the world needs more Social Entrepreneurs:
1) The world needs entrepreneurs who can solve real problems and that have meaning to society at large. A great article by Fast Company encourages startups to build products that have meaning and explains why solving real problems are so rewarding on a number of different levels.
2) Social impact initiatives needs to be sustainable and the pure donor model or aid can’t sustain these initiatives. Developing sustainable models and through entrepreneurship are the only way to make a substantial and lasting impact.
3) Many of the problems in the world already have the right people to solve them in its context. It just needs a difference perspective on the problem to come up with a relevant solution for a social problem. Read the article by Harvard Business Review on how Entrepreneurs find opportunities.
4) Most solutions in society have a direct economic value and requires an entrepreneurship mindset to have the maximum impact.