Friday, January 29, 2010

Changing the World with Your Vision

At some point in our lives, we all go through a phase where we want to “change the world.” It could be anything small, big, in between. No matter what it is, for many of us, that is exactly what keeps us going. Given the ever rising population of youth, there are all kinds of youth movements taking place in the world. Youth who are trying to make their dreams of changing the world a reality.

Do you have an idea for a project that works toward your vision of change?

The International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) just opened their Young Visionaries contest, which aims to celebrate, acknowledge and support the exceptional and ongoing work of young people. The contest encourages youth to share their visions for young people and for the future.

Until March 25, 2010 youth between the ages of 18 and 30 can share their visions for a just and healthy life, and get a chance to win a $1000 grant from the IWHC to fund a project that works toward this vision. If you have an idea for a sustainable project for instance, something that can help people and improve their quality of life, get involved. If you are actively engaged in shaping a world where women and young people are free from discrimination, sexual coercion, and violence; where they make free and informed choices about sexuality and reproduction; or where health information and services are available to help them lead safer and healthier lives….this contest is right for you.

For more information, visit the IWHC website by clicking here.

Read more:

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Imagine Africa CD

Imagine Africa CD is a project that kinds of introduces East African music to the world. This album is being put together by East African musicians from Tanzania and Kenya. Witness who is a bongo flava artist has managed to have her songs included in the album. We’re all hoping this opportunity will give bongo flava more exposure beyond the borders of East Africa. The project is farther explained on the Imagine Africa CD homepage.

This is a great project; one that I’m hoping will lead to making a whole African Hip Hop album. An album that will blend together Hip Hop beats from the West and African rhythms. This project will not only shed light into Africa’s Hip Hop scene, but also unite young African artists. A good example of what I am trying to say is the upcoming album by Damian Marley and Nas called Distant Relatives. These are two artists who are very different, but they’re recording an album about Africa and for Africa.

Read more:
Imagine Africa homepage
Imagine Africa CD
Distant Relatives MySpace

Monday, January 25, 2010

How do I find new stuff?

As Google continues to grow, it faces a mounting challenge. Where to find new content to search and index? Content apparently isn't coming in as fast as Google needs. So it took it upon itself to create new content as this article describes. Google started a contest at universities in East Africa to promote the translation of Wikipedia articles to Swahili, a language with very little content online but a potential 100 million strong user base.

Does it really have to take foreign firms enticing us with prizes for us to generate new content? Especially in Swahili. Bloggers in East Africa, similar to this blog, have started to create some of this content, however the quantity is minuscule. The question is how can we promote 'local' and 'original' content creation? Should local universities start promoting this? Will print media companies see this as a void that they can easily fill?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this, so please leave your comments.

Resources page is live!

We've updated our Resources page. This is a rolling list, and your suggestions are welcome. Write to admin (at) vijanafm (dot) com if you think there is more that we can do with this page, or with the rest of our work.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bongo with Flavas of Entrepreneurship

Bongo flava has been around for more than ten years, with its popularity crossing over the borders to other East African countries. The flava not only gave the youth a platform to express the challenges they face everyday, but it made possible for many youth to self employ themselves through music. This was the beginning of Bongo flava and entrepreneurship to join forces and assist the youths on their fight against poverty.

Unfortunately, bongo flava has had to fight through different misconceptions in the beginning, but throughout the years this genre has given many young people different opportunities. For example, the bongo flava group called East Coast Team was among the first to branch out and start a t-shirt business. East Coast Team saw the opportunity and decided to capitalize on their fame by starting East Coast Team clothing line.

Bongo flava artists quickly realized their music and fame could open many more doors for them, especially when considered that they could not live on the money they were making from their album sales. Later as cell phone technology grew, some mobile phone companies introduced bongo flava ringtone business. Even though ringtones business was already common in other countries, but bongo flava ringtones were a new and exciting phenomenon. This helped artists to be able to generate a little bit more income from their music ringtones, instead of only depending on their discouraging album sales and unprofitable music concerts.

Fortunately, today entrepreneurship in bongo flava has grown and opened doors to many youths and even helping the government on the problem of youth unemployment. Bongo flava has provided one solution to that problem, and even though the music industry is still very young but its slowly progressing. The next article will look at one of bongo flavas successful rapper, Ambwene Yesayah a.k.a Mzee wa Commercial. He has managed to take full advantage of the opportunities that Bongo flava has presented him. In conclusion, this is how P Funk, one of the most influential producers of bongo flava music explains what bongo flava is:

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship

The Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship provides funding and technical assistance to entrepreneurs who have "the potential for large-scale influence on critical challenges of our time: tolerance and human rights, health, economic and social equity, peace and security, institutional responsibility, and environmental sustainability."

Awards are given to "to help organizations expand their programs and capacity to deliver long-term, sustainable equilibrium change", and usually look for projects that have been functioning for no less than three years. More eligibility criteria here.

Deadline for the next round of applications is February 17, 2010.

Read more:
Skoll Awards guidelines
How to apply

Kirubi from Capital FM: Think like an entrepreneur

Chris Kirubi, a blogger for Kenyan-based Capital FM, encourages youth to seek out entrepreneurial opportunities and self employment in East Africa.

In his latest blogpost, "Think like an entrepreneur", he suggests the following to the youth (in sum):
  • Change the way you regard careers vs. self employment, ie: the attitude needs to change from "I'm working for someone" to "How can I help my employer increase value"
  • Earn competancy in certain fields rather than recreate already-existing innovations
  • Build credibility to secure consistent funding
  • Volunteer your time to learn about the needs in your area
  • Read about what's happening in the world and join networks
Capital FM provides extensive local and international news on the web and on radio. Kirubi is a correspondent for industry, media, insurance and youth empowerment.

Read more:
"Think like an entrepreneur" article
Kirubi's blog on Capital FM
Capital FM homepage

Friday, January 22, 2010

Youth to Youth Fund

The Youth Employment Network (YEN), a product of a partnership between the International Labor Organization, the World Bank and the United Nations, has a Youth to Youth Fund dedicated to providing resources to young entrepreneurial adults.

The YEN mission statement (from YEN website):
"YEN works to engage, educate and motivate actors to provide improved employment opportunities for youth. It is a platform and service provider focusing on policy advice, innovative pilot projects, knowledge sharing, and brokering partnerships. YEN makes use of its core agency partners’ know how and resources and ensures youth participation in delivering its services."

The Youth to Youth Fund goals (extract from website):
"The Youth-to-Youth Fund supports innovative youth-led (15-35 years) employment projects in the 4 Mano River Union (MRU) countries (Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone) and East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda). In difference to other programs, the youth themselves will be asked to submit proposals. The major outcome is the identification and support of small scale innovative ideas at the grass-roots level in youth employment. The Fund uses an open, transparent, and competitive process ensuring local ownership."

Eligibility to apply to the Youth to Youth Fund:
  • For official registered organizations in above listed target countries
  • Must be led by youth (ie: Board and/or management committee must be youth - 15 to 35 years)
  • Main purpose of organization must be youth employment creation
  • Proposals must be from organizations, not individuals
  • One application per organization
  • Grants are awarded in following focus areas: Community projects and services; Youth entrepreneurship; Transition from school to work; Vocational training; Sport and youth employment.
Read more:
About YEN
Youth to Youth Fund homepage

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Social Enterprise Planning Guide

Here's a planning guide I found through a fellow social entrepreneur. More planning guides can be found on the Youth Social Enterprise Initiative website.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Reaching Your Clientele

A difficult question on any budding entrepreneur's mind is one of marketing, how to get one's product into the hands of the all-too-important consumer. The new topic on the tech world's mind these days is mobile advertising. Google and Apple were recently vying for AdMob (a huge player in the arena of mobile ads) Google ultimately won but Apple then spent $275 million to buy out Quattro, another mobile kingpin. It's obvious that mobile advertising is not just a fad and as entrepreneurs we must all take it seriously.

CES was a huge event for many reasons, one of which was the growth of the App Store model. Not just smartphones but regular candybar phones, TVs, landlines, DVRs, game consoles. We're living in a world in which apps have become the new type of website. So whereas a few years ago the question was: "do I need a website?" Now we're asking: "do I need to create an app?". It's another way to reach customers, and a cheap way too. Many App Stores are practically throwing money at developers to get onto their platform. Android and Palm's webOS are completely free to develop on, the iPhone OS costs $100 to become a developer but you get 70% of your app purhases plus it has the advantage of a wider customer base (with 31 million people), and there are many more: Blackberry's App World, Nokia's Ovi Store. The question isn't whether to create an app or not, but which platform to develop on, the best answer would be all of them. For budding entrepreneurs that's difficult, hence it's imperative to think of the demographic you are looking for. Whether it be corporate entrepreneurs with their Crackberries or young techies with their open-source Android devices, it's obvious that there's a relatively simple way for you to reach your audience in the mobile sector.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Writing for New Media Platforms

Writing and new media:
Getting one's message out there has never been easier than it is today. We can disseminate information across different platforms with mobile and web being the most powerful, and we can do so in real time. The web demands constant contact and updating from users. Engaging is the key word in media today and it isn't unusual to see websites across all kinds of markets using social networking sites (namely Twitter and Facebook) along with storage services that include social networking functions (such as YouTube and Flickr).

That said, social entrepreneurs will still use the power of the word with more than 140 characters. Blog entries are a popular way of keeping the public abreast of issues and updates and social entrepreneurs may be writing newsletters, press releases, and articles as well.

How to write effectively for new (and old) media:
Here are two articles that explain the usage of language in old media and new media today and how you can get your point across with less words; these are "must reads" for any social entrepreneur who writes on a regular basis.

Read More:
1. "Writing Good English" by William Zinsser || This was a talk given to incoming international students at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and it's relevant to anyone who writes in the English language, irrespective of whether English is your native language or not.
2. "Cut This Story!" by Michael Kinsley || Newspaper articles are too long and this is where new media beats old media.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The cutting edge from CES!

Last weekend, I attended the annual Consumer Electronics(CES) show in Las Vegas. For those that don't know, this is the largest annual consumer technology event in the U.S (i.e geek Mecca) and has all the cutting edge technology on display for you to look and play with.

Needless to say, being a technology enthusiast I've been dying to go for many years and it definitely did not disappoint. I'm going to try give a glimpse of some of the technologies/trends that I saw, especially those that would be more practical and useful in developing countries.

The big hype:
A couple of technologies that everyone was talking about were 3D home televisions, E-readers and Mobile digital TV (M-DTV). 3D technology in general is not anything new, however the fact that you can now enjoy 3D television from the comfort of your home, is a compelling proposition. The sample movies on display were extremely captivating and they are already plans to launch live broadcast tv in 3D. Imagine a live Manchester United Vs. Arsenal game in 3D!

Mobile digital TV is another next generation technology that is gaining some traction. Again digital television is not new, but imagine that you could now be watching your favorite tv show while sitting on the beach.

E-readers were recently launched in the US, most popularly by Amazon ('Kindle'). The thing to note from CES about E-readers was that smaller companies are rushing into this market. E-readers of multiple shapes, sizes, colors and functionality are emerging much like MP3 players did about 3-4 years ago. From a developing world standpoint, very cheap e-readers could help students in developing countries avoid the large, expensive and hefty books that need to be purchased each year. Mobile phones took away the need for landlines in many parts of Africa, E-readers could do the same. Plus this might be more ecologically friendly in the long run...woot for less paper.

The cutting edge:
An augmented reality demo was one of the coolest things I experienced. I was given a pair of funky glasses to wear and a small board with bar code like squares on it (see below). As soon as I wore the glasses, the board turned into a virtual reality maze that could be juggled around to get a virtual ball through the maze.

The extremely thin size of LED TVs was also very interesting to see. The models I saw from LG, Samsung and Sony were as thin as a cigarette in thickness (from the side, you could only see a line).

Wireless charging devices were on display by 'PowerMat'. Basically, a small pad on which mobile phones (with a small attachment) could be placed, which would charge the device's battery. This is definitely a technology to keep an eye on.

The practical solutions:
A key trend I noticed was that the Android OS platform has been widely adopted by various OEM manufactures and so any device with a screen and some memory could now potentially have an OS built into it. This means that applications could be developed to run on Android and any of these devices...your creativity is the only limit as to how this technology could be put to use (e.g portable tablets for waiters in restaurants)

Wi-fi routers with 3G capabilities were also on display. These routers either come with a direct sim card slot or allow for a USB data card to be plugged in to provide the 3G/EDGE connection. Very useful for internet cafes or homes in areas were wired internet is still not available but mobile phone service is.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Theatre as a marketing tool

Theatre presents itself as a powerful and inexpensive platform for any social entrepreneur with an interest in social change through the arts. Theatre of the Oppressed (and its different branches: forum theatre, invisible theatre, legislative theatre, etc) has played roles as varied as education and peace and conflict resolution within a number of institutions from theatre companies to community run organizations and non-governmental organizations.

Brazilian dramatist Augusto Boal developed Theatre of the Oppressed, a dramaturgic method that transforms the ordinary person into both a theatrical performer and an agent of change (an actor). In this environment, spectators can become the actors and stakeholders, collectively exploring decisions to social questions that their communities face.

Theatre of the Oppressed is a marketing tool: Public participation and recognition is the ultimate goal of any effort undertaken by a social entrepreneur and T.O. is an inexpensive, efficient, and effective way of keeping the public abreast on your efforts. By making it interactive, people will be more likely to differentiate between your efforts from others that rely solely on traditional forms of marketing. Furthermore, a T.O. project can be done at no cost at all; costs, in many cases, are optional and based solely on the needs, goals, and resources available to you and your project.

Read More:
GTO Maputo An article about an HIV/AIDS campaign by "Grupo do Teatro dos Oprimidos" from Maputo, Mozambique.
Amani People's Theatre A Kenyan organization that engages in peace and conflict resolution work and provides creative solutions for like-minded organizations based on Theatre of the Oppressed techniques.
Games for Actors and Non-Actors Theatre of the Oppressed techniques and examples of its application written by Augusto Boal.
Theater of the Oppressed Augusto Boal explains the philosophy behind Theater of the Oppressed.

We're creating a "Resources" section

Hello young social entrepreneurs! After a few months of putting mostly written content out through our blog, we have been able to identify some key funding and technical assistance resources that are provided from year to year to small and medium enterprises.

Since such resources - organizations like Echoing Green, YouthActionNet, YOSEFO and the Unreasonable Institute - take applications in on a regular basis, we want to set up a page where all their information is consolidated to speed up your logistical planning.

If there is anything else that you think we can set up as static information as opposed to rolling news and updates, let us know! Drop a line to admin (at) vijanafm (dot) com and tell us what what information you would like to see more on Vijana FM.

Operations @ Vijana FM

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Value of 'Microtrends'

Our society is riddled with growing trends that we overlook daily, focusing on larger trends such as Facebook or Twitter. Yet if 1% of society comprises a trend, that equates to 3,000,000 Americans or 400,000 Tanzanians and so forth... Mark Penn shines the spotlight on such 'microtrends' in his book "Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow's Big Changes." Penn intuitively identifies growing interest groups in society, each with needs unmet by our society and economy and provides ideas on how one might tailor a business venture to meet that need. The book promotes the reader to think and look outside of our limited contact sphere (the people we meet and see every day) and identify our own microtrends in society. Backed by an impressive track record chasing the trail with former President Clinton, Mark Penn writes a very informative and digestible book that can get us all thinking about entrepreneurship.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Tanzania to host Young Global Leaders summit in May 2010

Young Global Leaders (YGL) - a branch of the World Economic Forum - will hold is seventh annual summit in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania from May 2-7, 2010.

The summit promises to engage youth in sustainable projects that directly relate to the economic and social progress of people.

An extract from the summit notice webpage:

"This event promises to be the largest gathering of YGLs where they will have an opportunity to interact with local and international organizations working in the YGL “Global Redesign” areas of activity: health, environment and sustainability, education and youth, entrepreneurship, values and governance. The YGL Annual Summit will be an occasion to connect local experiences with global issues and to understand the underlying development environment."

Read more:
World Economic Forum homepage
YGL homepage
YGL summit notice webpage

Saturday, January 2, 2010

YOSEFO: Financial services for Tanzanian entrepreneurs

We've talked about Tanzania-based Youth Self Employment Foundation (YOSEFO) here at Vijana FM before, but we just wanted to reiterate that YOSEFO is out to financially support entrepreneurs.

YOSEFO is focused on supporting everyone - youth, women and men - who have an interest and some experience in starting sustainable business. Over 70% of YOSEFO's clients are women.

Their vision: "To be a leading microfinance institution in Tanzania serving urban and rural entrepreneurs, while operating on the commercial principles of performance and sustainability."

Read more:
YOSEFO homepage
Social Edge blogpost on one YOSEFO client (by Jennifer Gong)