Mxit mySafety Application

Last week Mxit Reach launched the mySafety Application on Mxit providing its users access to counseling, emergency and information services address violence against women and children in South Africa. In the first 24 hours of the app going live more than 30,000 users downloaded the application and interacting with its services.

This is another great way of showing how Mxit can be used as a tool for social change.


Mxit and RLabs launched movies on Feature Phones

ALuckyManToday was a big day for one of our 2013 incubatees, Cinemo, who launched the first full length feature film on the Mxit platform.

A Lucky Man, a film about Ernie ‘Lastig’ Solomon, the legendary ex-gang boss, is the first full-length feature film to premiere exclusively on a social network. Mxit users can download the movie using the newly-launched Cinemo app. Lucky Man has been broken into 18 four-minute episodes. A new episode will be uploaded every weekday at 10am from 18 February 2013.

Cinemo is an app within the Mxit Reach ecosystem, the platform for social good within Mxit. Marlon Parker, VP of Mxit Reach and founder of RLabs says, “We know the power of video and want to use this to encourage conversations about social issues such as drug abuse, HIV/Aids and gangsterism. Cinemo has three content streams. It has movies, of which A Lucky Man is the first, public service announcements on issues such as condom use, and music videos like Freshly Ground’s popular, ‘Take me to the dance’.” Since Cinemo’s launch in January, the app has attracted over 105 000 subscribers (15k added in the last 24 hours).

Below you can see some of the media around Cinemo and RLabs would like to congratulate Shane Vermooten, Kurt Appolis and the creative team for doing such a great job with the initial launch.


Stuff Magazine Online

Tech Central

Yahoo News


IT News Africa

My Broadband

News 24

Brand e.Biz

Human IPO

Silo Breaker


Web Addict


Screen Africa

IT Online SA

The Sowetan

Vodacom Now

Mail & Guardian

Entertainment Africa


Three lessons I’ve learned at Mxit in developing a Social Good Application

Over the last few months I’ve had the privilege to work with the greatest minds in technology in South Africa at Mxit. Seeing how Mxit, Africa’s largest mobile social network, are being used for social change has always fascinated me hence for the work I’ve been doing at RLabs.

It is seeing millions of people accessing social good services via Mxit that got me thinking of Three lessons that I’ve learned in developing a social good Application:

1) Context of your market and Relevancy of the technology you intend using. If you are developing any application in making a difference in someone’s life then you should know how and where they live, the challenges and circumstances as well as what technologies they use to communicate and access information (if any). Due to the popularity of Mxit in South Africa when we launched applications where we intend reaching large audiences, Mxit has always been one of the first platforms we would develop for as it also offers FREE developer tools.

2) Do not underestimate your target audience. I’ve realized early on my journey that most people would find a way of accessing information or applications if they know it will add value to their lives.

3) Launch early and measure. We’ve always used the Minimum Viable Product concepts for getting the applications out as quickly as possible but the most important aspect of having your application out there is the ability to measure your impact.


RLabs Namibia: RLabs and NBIC growing digital entrepreneurs

The RLabs teams have been in Windhoek,Namibia for more than 2 weeks with the first team identifying the current digital and entrepreneurship Eco-system and the 2nd team started the social and digital media training with a group of young people in partnership with Namibia Business Innovation Centre (NBIC).

The first week was an opportunity for the participants to connect with one another, develop an appetite for digital media and entrepreneurship as well as receive training on how to use these digital tools in the context of a business, social enterprise or community project. Seeing the groups working together and how they began thinking outside of the box was exciting as the young people really embraced the idea of becoming digital entrepreneurs.



ICT4D 3.0: The future of ICT4D

Over the past few years increasingly practitioners, researchers, social entrepreneurs, technologists and others have been buzzing with the concept of ICT4D (Information and Communication Technologies for Development). Although many initiatives, projects and programmes have claimed to be ICT4D/M4D/SM4D etc. the true impact of these technologies on development of people are yet to be seen. A number of projects such as InfoDev managed by the World Bank and other developing agencies have published lessons they’ve learn through the analysis of some of their programmes. These lessons include:

Lesson 1: Involve target groups in project design and monitoring.
Lesson 2: When choosing the technology for a poverty intervention project, pay particular attention to infrastructure requirements, local availability, training requirements, and technical challenges. Simpler technology often produces better results.
Lesson 3: Make use of appropriate technologies (mobile phones etc.).
Lesson 4: ICT projects that reach out to rural areas might contribute more to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) than projects based in urban areas.
Lesson 5: Sustainable models for ICT4D programmes are lacking.
Lesson 6: Projects that focus on ICT training should include a job placement component.

Although the above are valuable lessons what remains to be seen is how many of such development initiatives actually are sustained and fulfilling the MDGs in the long-term. We are also seeing more Innovations emerging in collaboration with developing markets where many of the target audiences are become co-creators and co-designers instead of just being the target for delivery of the solutions. However, the question that remains to be asked is “how many of these target audiences have ownership or stewardship of their shared innovations?” It is clear that the future of ICT4D should perhaps be turned on its head and that we should instead of just seeing applications of ICTs in the developing world, actually begin to see more of the Developing World innovating in ICT (D4ICT or ICT4D 3.0) to meet their local needs that can be replicated in other emerging economies or even developed economies.

We do find that our “developing economies” have many characteristics that makes it ideal spaces for ICT4D Innovation Hubs. Some of these could be:
– People know how to survive. Many have endured extreme social issues and have the ability to make things happen in the midst of not having much.
– Who best knows the problem than the people in that developing situation. Being able to define their problems based on their collective experiences are useful.
– Most developing communities have their local champions who could drive and manage the innovation process.
– They know how to take such solutions to their target market because they know their communities.

As practitioners working in the field of ICT4D, M4D, SM4D etc. we still have a long way to go before we truly see the bigger impact on the ground where our target groups can become self-sustainable with technology and innovation just being the enabler.


RLabs Brazil – Empowering, Uplifting and Developing

The Reconstructed Living Lab (RLabs) together with Entrelaces (Brazilian Association for Research and Projects in Education) are proud to announce the beginning of their partnership and the foundation of RLabs Brazil. The goal of this collaboration is to promote social transformation through the creation and dissemination of knowledge in order to increase the empowerment, upliftment and development of individuals and communities. Our belief is that the local communitry should be the main agent in the process of social empowerment, benefited by our innovative solutions and worldwide collaborative network.

Entrelaces (n.) / Entrelaçar (v.) – to INTERTWINE

transitive verb

: to unite by twining one with another

intransitive verb

: to twine about one another; also : to become mutually involved

— in·ter·twine·ment \-m?nt\ noun

RLabs Brazil Overview and Activities

RLabs Brazil works directly with the communities of Cantagalo (Rooster’s Crow) and Pavão & Pavãozinho (Peacock & Little-Peacock), located at a prime spot in Rio de Janeiro, between the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, on top of the hills, where the view can speak for itself:

SlideShow – Cantagalo (Rooster) & Pavão (Peacock) – Pavãozinho (Little Peacock) – RLabs Brazil & Associates:

Carnaval 2011 – Public School José Linhares – Rio de Janeiro – Brazil

Some of the Activities by RLabs Brazil:

The Project Factory

In April 2011, we opened The Project Factory in partnership with community leaders, giving personal assistance and financial guidance to local entrepreneurs. The first project launched was the production of ecological soap made out of recycled cooking oil. Our next step is to help the local bars and restaurant’s owners to get more visibility inside and outside the community bringing a new stream of customers including residents from neighbouring areas and tourists.

Job Placement Program

Developed by a team of HR professionals, economists and psychologists, we offer training, guidance and placement in the job market, creating a network of members, ranging from teenagers (internships) to senior citizens.

Math Reinforcement Classes

Strong academic fundamentals are important to increase job prospects. This program endeavors to assist the students of these communities in improving their math skills.

Re-activation of the local newspaper “Canto do Galo” (Rooster’s Crow)

The local newspaper “Canto do Galo” was first published in 2008 by the Community Association of Cantagalo, reaching a distribution of 2,000 copies in 2009. Since 2010, Entrelaces has been working as a key player in the relaunch of the paper, facilitating the interaction among the key players including public (government), private (business enterprises) and the third sector/social organizations. We are expecting the relauch for September 2011, with an initial release of 10,000 copies.

Our key partners are:

· Community Association of Cantagalo

· Federal Family Health Program

· Estate Security Program

· Youth Reference Center (CRJ)

· Women’s Sewing Cooperative of Cantagalo

· Ipanema Security Project (PSI)

. Atlantic Institute


How $5 turned into over $200,000 in 96 hours

Before I share this story, I have to say even investing $5 in LinkIn with its IPO last week will not generate this type of returns for you. So how did I manage to turn $5 into $200,000 in a few days? Well it started being introduced to a great Entrepreneur (“Steve”) in the Valley who not only managed a number of successful start-ups he also raised over $30 Million in venture funding. I met him at an Entrepreneurship Breakfast Event where we exchanged cards and he said that I should connect with him and share my pitch deck with him so he can have a better understanding of JamiiX.

Within hours of sending it to him I got some valuable feedback and an offer to meet up for a cup of coffee which would only cost me $5. However that $5 basically brought me the following returns:

– 2 Hours of One-on-One Business Consulting and 4 Days of electronic mentorship from a seasoned entrepreneur who has been there and done it (Lets me modest and say a week of mentorship will cost $5,000).
– Introductions to some VCs in Silicon Valley with an endorsement from the entrepreneur (taking an average of what popular VC events cost $2,500)
– Exploring avenues for fundraising and being fundraising representative in Silicon Valley (Time and effort would be worth approximately $72,000 for a year)
– Support in getting the right content ready for a VC (Bill this into the mentorship package above)

Indirectly, through using what I’ve learned in other meetings in the 96 hours the following were gained:
– More introductions to VCs in Silicon Valley with a follow-up call
– Offer for part-time business development at NO cost (the level of the person for his time will be $60,000 for a year)
– US based agent to drive JamiiX, Opportunity to expand JamiiX into new markets and B2B Opportunities (Already a possible contract in place that could be worth well over $80,000 for year 1)

The above estimates were all using market related values and the gain from being polite and that $5 coffee gained us more than $200,000 in value. The biggest lesson I’ve learned here was that the greatest investment you can make is in people and the time and effort that Steve have invested in me during the last few hours is invaluable. So think about how you are investing in others because we all have something to offer that can change someone’s world and who knows what that returns could be worth one day.