Wecena services are my new social venture. The US-based Echoing Green non-profit organization helps social entrepreneurs with a 2 years fellowship program and seed grants including 60 000 USD for the take-off of high-social impact projects. You can think of them as a social venture fund. I’d like to apply to this project competition so that the wecena concept succeeds at bringing corporate-grade information technology to the hands of the most innovative non-profits in France and all around the world. The deadline for this year applications is December 1st, 2008.
Readers, I need your help.
You can help by reviewing the next posts on my blog (I will use the « echoinggreen » tag, you can use this links for follow-up posts). I will post pieces of my draft application to the Echoing Green fellowship program. You can help if you are an English speaker (possibly native…) : I need you to correct my English language and style. You can help if you feel concerned with the importance of information technology and the Internet for serving the public with high-impact and broad-reach social innovations : I need you to help me making the case to Echoing Green. You can help if you like my project and would like to contribute one way or another : just tell me you support this whole stuff and share any comment or thought. If you have a couple of hours available for helping, you can even start by reading Echoing Green’s applicant coaching guide.
You can contribute in English (preferred) or in French (ça ira tout aussi bien). In case you are reading this from the wecena.com website, note that your comments have to be posted on my personal blog (link below).
Let’s start with the 1st pre-application question
Let’s start with Echoing Green (EG) ‘s pre-application tools. EG suggests applicants (me) should use their questions to prepare their application. Let’s try with the 1st question (page 6 of the coaching guide) and throw an answer…
Problem Definition, What specific problems are you focused on and can you realistically solve it?
Their 1st sub-question :
What specific injustice in the world have you seen that compels you to start a new social change organization ?
Non-profit social innovators lack access to corporate-grade Information Technology (IT) skills and services. This is a form of digital divide between non-profit and for-profit innovators. Why would information technology be primarily made to buy more stuff or spread more advertisement ? Why isn’t it more importantly made and used for fighting poverty, overcoming disabilities, sharing education or enhancing public health ?
2nd sub-question from EG :
Who, specifically, is hurt or affected by this injustice and how does the injustice manifest itself ?
Beneficiaries of all fields of social innovations suffer from the lack of technology-powered social innovations and from the under-exploitation of technology by non-profits. Had non-profit innovators been given resources to better use technology, the reach of their programs would have been extended, their ability to transform organizations, markets and society would have been increased. More beneficiaries would have been helped better and earlier. Unseen social innovations would have been launched and developped.
EG 3rd question for defining the problem:
Is it realistic that a single organization could address this injustice ? if not, define the problem more narrowly ?
No. We only focus on the access by French non-profits to significant amounts of IT skills and services. Accessing software or hardware is out of our scope. We also only focus on IT needs that represent at least one full-time equivalent of services and skills. Smaller needs and projects won’t be supported (at least not immediately). Direct help to foreign non-profits is not in our immediate scope but we are considering partnerships with foreign non-profits in the need of free IT skills and services when it can increase the social efficiency of our effort by supporting higher impact global social innovations.
That’s it. What do you think ?