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October 05 2011


In The Fields – Community Driven Innovation Hits The Road in Poland

Did you know that TechSoup Global has its European Headquaters in Warsaw, Poland? The office known under the name of Fundacja TechSoup plays both the role of the European hub, and an independent Polish nonprofit. Billy Bicket and Laney Strange are currently visiting Fundacja TechSoup’s Office in Poland. In an effort to understand the local reality and therefore be able to develop new programs and projects that would be actually community driven, the CDI team went to interview NGOs in the Polish countryside.

Who Did We Talk To?

On our one-day trip we visited 3 different local NGOs:

  • W.A.R.K.A. Association, which is based in the city of Warka, one of the oldest cities in the Mazovia region. It is an NGO that supports the local social activities and encourages initiatives coming from Warka and surroundings. W.A.R.K.A. partners with many social actors: organizations, as well as informal groups or individuals.
  • Association for the Development of the Kozietuły Village from Kozietuły. The Association was created in order to reopen a local grammar school that had been closed by the local government. The educational offering is the Association’s main focus, although they currently apply for funding that would help them go beyond their primary program.
  • The Association for The Future of Our Children from Izabelin Górki. The last NGO that we visited doesn’t even have an office. We were hosted by the organization’s board president – Ewelina Jarecka in her house in the village of Izabelin Górki. The Future Of Our Children is an organization that focuses on helping kids with physical and mental disabilities and was created by the parents of kids in need.

What Did We Learn?

Small NGOs see the value of using technology, but new tools are usually not the first thing they can afford to focus on. The organizations we visited are understaffed and generally underresourced; they learn technology and apply for online grants with the help of friends, or friends of friends. People working in a small NGO share responsibilities, so that each member or employee has to be prepared to cover everything from fundraising to event’s logistics. In such environment any form of ICT support  is always appreciated. Although most organizations are familiar with the product donations available through Polish Technologie Non-profit Donation’s Program, sometimes what they need is not only the resource but the know-how. They would like to learn how to use technology to help them gain information, raise money, communicate better as well as spread the word about what they are doing. The three organizations we talked to would definitely appreciate support coming in a form of expert’s advice or a help from volunteer(s).

The Next Steps

The local CDI representatives (Alicja Peszkowska and Anna Kuliberda) with the support of the entire team will be working on developing smart solutions for how to re-distribute the knowledge and the ICT know-how between the ICT specialist, social activists, bigger and smaller NGOs. Yesterday’s study trip was exploratory in terms of understanding the factors that any further actions will need to address. We also hoped that we developed a relationship with our further allies and beneficiaries.

Stay tuned for the update on our work and projects, and further news concerning Polish NPtech. We will be examining the landscape very carefully to make sure that our projects don’t get lost in translation!

July 20 2011


Stop Human Trafficking in Russia: Video your App Idea and Enter the Challenge

NetHope, in partnership with USAID, GBI, and DNA, recently launched the Stop Human Trafficking App Challenge. This contest draws upon the thriving culture of innovation in Russia to respond to one of today’s most pressing development challenges – sex and labor trafficking. The contestants are invited to compete in a skills-based challenge to design and build innovative and functional mobile applications.

Target a Human Trafficking Issue

The application should be used to raise public awareness of trafficking, educate at-risk people, or provide services to victims and survivors. This contest is specifically designed for residents and organizations from Russia and Eastern European countries. To see the full list of countries and learn more about the eligibity criteria, visit the NetHope website. You can also follow the twitter hashtag for the challenge (#StopHTapp) to monitor challenge progress and engage in discussions around it.

Participate in the Challenge

The challenge participants are asked to

  1. Come up with a new mobile phone app idea
  2. Fill in the application brief
  3. Upload a two-minute video that demonstrates the functionality of the application

Work for Change and Win Big

One winning application will be implemented by an organization working to combat trafficking in Russia. There are also two cash awards for the winning apps. The grand prize equals US$15,000. The winner of the first prize will receive an amount equaling US$15,000. In addition, both winners will travel to the Annual Clinton Global Initiative in New York in September 2011.

We keep our fingers crossed for you!

July 17 2011


Get inspired by the last week’s Social Innovation Camp in Sarajevo

Last weekend on June 9-10 in the city of Sarajevo activists and social innovators from the Central and Eastern Europe region and beyond got together to create tech projects driven by social needs. The event was organized by Internews and Transitions Online, and it was based on a Social Innovation Camp model.


Social Innovation Camp “brings together ideas, people and digital tools to build web-based solutions to social problems – all in just 48 hours.” The event  provides a setting for talented individuals to solve social challenges in new ways - by bringing together ideas and digital tools to create web-based innovations. SICamp gathers designers, social entrepreneurs, and web developers - in addition to marketing, legal, advertising, social needs experts and other specialists - to work on potential start-ups that can bring about change. The 48 hour sprint finishes with a competition to determine the winning projects that will receive further start-up support. This particular Social Innovation Camp, known under the name of Sicamp Internews (#sicampin), aimed to jumpstart a “digital activist” movement across Central and Eastern Europe, Southeastern Europe, and Central Asia.


Seven different projects were created during the intense 48 hours. They were judged based on four main criteria:

  1. Is there a demonstrated social need?
  2. Is the proposed technology solution feasible?
  3. Does it have a community?
  4.  Is it sustainable?

The show and tell event, which took place in a newly-opened Sarajevo art house cinema called Kriterion, contained of presentations of projects and prototypes, as well as a question round for each team. The winner of the competition, as chosen by the jury that I joined, is:

This project focuses on the information needs of pregnant women in Belarus. As a research of the project’s mastermind showed most of the pregnant woman in Belarus do not have information about their rights and the state support which they are entitled to. That problem further translates into them not only lacking information access, but also not being able to share their experience with other mums-to-be.  NovaMama! project creates an online space for this offline community to connect. It also invites specialists, such as lawyers and doctors to collaborate and pass their knowledge to those woman. NovaMama! has been created as a Belarusian project. It might be easily adaptable to different national reality if a need arises though.


Another issue that regional activists recognized to be shared across the region, is that  of young people (age 16-24) now knowing how and where they can entertain themselves in their own city, and, specifically, in their own neighbourhood. One of the Social Innovation teams came up with as crowdmap answer to this problem. As explained during the show and tell: “Map4Youth is a quick way of finding out where to do the things you love, right now!” The map allows youngsters to add their city favourites to the map, and build up points to exchange for some popular brands offerings. The target group of the project is a particularly difficult one to tackle, also the potential for the project’s growth is likely to cause sustainability issues. Nevertheless, the idea is simple but appealing.Originally the map covers the territory of the biggest Balkan city - Belgrade.  

3 out of 7 projects drafted and created during the camp focused on  journalism in it’s local and international scope. One of them - Newsify was honoured with the people’s choice award.


Congratulations again for the NovaMama! team and good luck for all the projects development along the way! NetSquared is looking forward to highlighting the real social change that those projects will drive in the region. It was an amazing experience to be a part of the outstanding jury team, and to learn from the amazing and passionate group of participants.

Thank you guys, we are keeping our fingers crossed for you! “Yes, you CAMP!”


To read, listen and watch more materials connected to the event visit the Social Innovation Camp Internews blog.

May 05 2011


Social Innovation Camp 2011 in Sarajevo

Social Innovation Camp brings together ideas, people, and digital tools to build web-based solutions to social problems — from hacking together software to working out how you'd sustain an idea — all in just 48 hours.

Do you have an idea you want to work on? Or maybe a particular technical solution that could be used for good? Social Innovation Camp Internews in Sarajevo is looking for inspiring ideas and committed people. The call for submissions will be closed Wednesday, May 25, 2011.

This year’s event will be held in Sarejevo on July 9-10, 2011 and organized by Internews and Transitions (TOL). The focus of Social Innovation Camp Internews is to jumpstart a “digital activist” movement across Central and Eastern Europe, Southeastern Europe, and Central Asia that uses information and communication technologies for positive social change.

Anyone from across the world — including people who work for NGOs or the media; who are public employees, web developers, business or marketing types who are enthusiastic about a social cause — is invited to attend the event as experts, volunteers, and developers. Travel grants are available for the priority countries Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Russia, Serbia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

To apply for participation fill out this form.

Read more about the Social Innovation Camp Internews in Sarajevo: http://www.sicamp-internews.org

April 14 2011


We’re Hiring! Global Community Builder (CEE)

We’re currently looking for a veteran community builder with experience growing and managing community-driven projects in central and eastern Europe and around the world.

Here’s a quick summary of the role:
The CDI Global Community Builder will inform and implement the design and ongoing management of all CDI programmatic activities across the region, including grant-supported projects. Specifically, the Community builder is focused on growing participation and connections across TechSoup’s web properties and partner sites via implementing a social media strategy, supporting offline events in the region, facilitating workshops and/or trainings, and managing the launch and development of web-based challenges in the region.

Our dream candidate is naturally curious, inspired by the potential of the social web, and has already demonstrated their ability to bring diverse groups of people together to get things done. Bonus points for previous involvement in the NetSquared or nptech community.

Does this sound like you or someone you trust? Check out the full details including application instructions!

Note: Our team is distributed, but we’re particularly interested in candidates in Poland or elsewhere in central or eastern Europe.

August 31 2010


The Local Philanthropy Workshop: The state of civil society in Romania

I'm here in Odorheiu Secuiesc, Romania, for The Local Philanthropy Workshop run by the OdorheiuSecuiesc Community Foundation and TechSoup Romania. This three-and-a-half day event will really kick off tomorrow morning and lead well into the weekend, bringing together NGO and IT participants to work together, share needs and expertise, and build capacity to move Romania and our communities further towards the civil society and engaged philanthropy environment we all want. There will be plenty of conversations, workshops, and learning opportunities here at the conference facility, but our goal is to share out throughout the event so you can join the conversation!

read more

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