It’s great to hear that our AmLab neighbours and partners the 1%CLUB have today been awarded a grant from the Grand Challenges Explorations, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 1%CLUB will use the grant funds to develop its concept for communicating the importance of investments that support global development. Akvo is going to be playing a part in the programme, as is Text to Change. I think this is a great example of what’s become possible since our three organisations decided to come together under the same roof just over a year ago, to form the AmLab.

This is a great endorsement of the decision we made to come together under one roof a year ago, to establish the AmLab in Amsterdam. Photo: Mark Charmer.

The central idea is that by using simple mobile reporting tools we will collect first-person stories and grassroots project data. A young Kenyan will be able to share his opinion about his local health clinic or the entire health system in Kenya just by using his mobile phone. 1%CLUB will share these stories with a global audience and offer crowdsourcing tools to get people worldwide involved in supporting development projects with their knowledge, time and money. The progress of technology allows us to take part in this global conversation.

1%CLUB, in conjunction with ourselves and Text to Change, has designed a way to explain how aid impacts the lives of people at the local level. First mobile reporters (in cooperation with Akvo) will collect grassroots project data and first person stories. Next we will send out an interactive and incentive-based survey through SMS (in cooperation with Text to Change) to a large group of mobile users in the dedicated project area. A campaign through radio, mobile and social media (e.g. Facebook & Twitter) allows us to share the results of the mobile surveys and the first-person stories collected by the mobile reporters. Through an online platform we visualize the first-person stories and local data together as maps, lists and info-graphics in real time. Through micro-volunteering the international online crowd can choose to support a project by performing tasks required by the project owners or donate money, time and/or knowledge to a project. With a perfect match between technology and global minds, we can create innovative solutions to improve the lives of millions worldwide.

Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) funds individuals worldwide who are taking innovative approaches to some of the world’s toughest and persistent global health and development challenges. GCE invests in the early stages of bold ideas that have real potential to help solve the problems people in the developing world face every day. 1%CLUB’s project is one of over 80 Grand Challenges Explorations Round 9 grants announced today by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 

Peter van der Linde is a co-founder and co-director of Akvo.