The Aspen Institute and HP Inc. have announced the selection of twelve NGOs and not-for-profit organisations across Malaysia, Mexico, and South Africa as the cohort for the 2023 Digital Equity Accelerator.
South African NGOs E-Cubed, DBE-E3, Digify Africa and the Siyafunda Community Technology Center CTC have been recognised for their efforts in working toward the digital inclusion of marginalised populations.
The Digital Equity Accelerator, a project of the Aspen Institute in collaboration with HP, fuels innovation by investing in NGOs that are addressing social and economic inequalities exacerbated by unequal technology access and use around the world.
The Digital Equity Accelerator was announced as a part of US Vice President Kamala Harris’s Global Initiatives on the Economic Empowerment of Women, a $400-million commitment to support key pillars of the Women in the Digital Economy Fund.
“At its core, the purpose of the Digital Equity Accelerator is to strengthen the work of organisations addressing social and economic inequalities in their communities,” said Hazami Barmada, director of the Digital Equity Accelerator. “Covid-19 revealed to the world that without full and equal access to the digital economy, inequalities in access to employment, education, healthcare and social services are exacerbated. In selecting this cohort, we sought organisations dedicated to solving issues at the intersection of technology and socio-economic inequalities.”
The organisations were chosen from among 120 applicants in a highly selective process which prioritised reach, impact, and commitment to digital equity. Selected non-profit organisations will be awarded HP technology solutions tailored to their needs; around $100,000 in capacity-building grants; and access to a robust network of international leaders, mentors, and coaches with expertise in technology, social innovation, non-profit management, and social impact.
The Accelerator will provide the cohort with opportunities for visibility on a global stage, including connections to local and international media.
E-Cubed aims to take TeacherConnect, a WhatsApp bot and digital community of practice, to every classroom across South Africa. Their goal is for young people to graduate with an entrepreneurial mindset and actively participate in the world.
Crysty Swift, digital lead at E-Cubed., says: “In the world’s most unequal society improving digital equity is perhaps our most powerful tool for change. Over 500 000 teachers and school assistants, and counting, use Teacher Connect; the Aspen Accelerator will help grow that digital foothold into a platform for innovative teaching and skills development in every classroom in the country.”
Siyafunda CTC will use the support to scale its Community Knowledge Centres by training existing community organisations and equipping them with curriculum and equipment. Its digital skills-building work focuses on unemployed youth, persons with disabilities, women and girls, and teachers and learners across South Africa.
FaizaXaba, marketing and communications lead at Siyafunda CTC, says: “This generous funding will enable Siyafunda CTC to accelerate and grow the network of community partners that will be supporting economic, educational, and social development — reducing isolation, bridging the digital divide, promoting health issues, creating economic opportunities.”
Digify Africa addresses youth unemployment by reaching “high potential, low opportunity” young people across South Africa providing them with vocational programs, digital skills education, and job pathways. Their offering includes Digibot, a WhatsApp Chatbot.
Gavin Weale, founder and CEO, says: “We have seen the power of digital skills for livelihood opportunities for the youth, as well as the potential of WhatsApp as a game-changing learning platform that enables easier access to digital skills using bot technology as a lever for wider digital participation. To be part of this accelerator programme will allow us to widen our impact in South Africa and beyond.”
In its first year, the Digital Equity Accelerator successfully helped scale seven non-profit organisations in India, Morocco, and the United States, boosting their cumulative reach by 1.7-million people and counting. A multi-year effort led by Aspen Institute and powered by HP, the Accelerator fuels innovation and invests in not-for-profit organisations and NGOs that are actively addressing the social and economic inequalities in communities resulting from unequal technology access and usage globally.
The 2023 Digital Equity Accelerator cohort includes:
- E-Cubed, aims to take TeacherConnect, a WhatsApp bot and digital community of practice, to every classroom across South Africa. Their goal is for young people to graduate with an entrepreneurial mindset and actively participate in the world.
- Digify Africa works to address youth unemployment by reaching “high potential, low opportunity” young people across South Africa and providing them with vocational programs, digital skills education, and job pathways. Their solution includes Digibot, a WhatsApp Chatbot.
- Instituto de Investigación para el Desarrollo de la Educación, A. C. (IIDEAC) aims to scale Modelo Integral de Educación Digital (MIED), a comprehensive digital education model, deploying it to public elementary schools serving Mayan communities of the Yucatan.
- Junior Achievement Malaysia, which will address insufficient exposure of public-school students to digital skills, enhancing its content and reach and building a STEM program to improve entrepreneurship education.
- La Cana, Proyecto de Reinserción Social, A.C.provides education, training, and technical tools for incarcerated and released female prisoners, working to improve their social integration, and enabling them to support their families upon release.
- National Cancer Society of Malaysia, aims to create an online, real-time database to enable early detection of cancer with a special focus on people in underserved communities including Orang Asli, ageing populations, people with disabilities, and those at elevated risk of cancer.
- Science of Life Studies 24/7, which will create new modules teaching digital skills and run learning workshops in the Orang Asli communities. The organisation’s focus is on improving job opportunities for youth at risk of economic exploitation across Malaysia.
- Siyafunda Community Technology Centre CTC aims to scale their Community Knowledge Centres by training existing community organisations and equipping them with curriculum and equipment. Their digital skills-building work focuses on unemployed youth, persons with disabilities, women and girls, and teachers and learners across South Africa.
- StartupLab MX will scale its Digital Transformation Program for women-led, low-income, and rural small businesses across southeast and central México, providing workshops, consulting, and digital marketing material, and connecting them with capital and new clients.
- UNETE, IAP, will scale its “Modelo Integral UNETE (MIU)” program designed to eradicate digital illiteracy in Mexican public schools that have never been equipped with educational technology through hardware, training, mentorship, and more. The communities they serve are ones in which migrants have left for the U.S., leaving populations of elder people, women, and children.