Africa Innovation Mradi: In Real Life (IRL) Fund

Africa Innovation Mradi: In Real Life (IRL) Fund

Call for Proposals

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This call for proposals is closed.

The IRL Fund seeks to fuel movement building efforts by a range of organizations and collectives across the African continent. It is open to those across civil society advancing digital and human rights, both on and offline. We welcome applicants working intersectionally with other movement areas (e.g. community justice, racial justice, climate justice, human rights, economic justice, or other social justice movements).

Grants available range from $15,000 to $50,000 USD.

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Plain text application pack: To support screen readers or places with low bandwidth and connectivity, you can download the application pack in plain text here.

Who is Mozilla?

Founded as a community open source project in 1998, Mozilla currently consists of two organizations: Mozilla Foundation, a not for profit entity which leads our movement building work; and its wholly owned subsidiary, the Mozilla Corporation, which leads our market-based work. The two organizations work in close concert with each other and a global community of tens of thousands of volunteers under the single banner: Mozilla.

In the early 2000s, the Mozilla community built Firefox. We toppled the browser monopoly, gave users choice and control online, and helped create a healthier internet. Twenty years later, Mozilla continues to fight for a healthy internet — one where Big Tech is held accountable and individual users have real agency online. In 2019, we identified a new challenge to the health of the internet: artificial intelligence. AI makes decisions for us and about us, but not always with us. It can tell us what information we consume, what influences our decision making, or what we can and cannot access. We share what trustworthy AI means for us in this white paper.

Our work is guided by the ten principles listed in our Manifesto and our Theory of Change. Today, the internet is everywhere. It shapes economies, influences governments, and is central to billions of lives. But whether the internet promotes democracy, open markets, and free expression or polarization, mass surveillance, and misinformation is up to us.

Mozilla identifies as a collaborator, co-creator and contributor to the building of our collective movements. We do this primarily through fellowships, grantmaking, convening and knowledge partnership. For more than two decades, Mozilla has invested in bold ideas, global leaders, and citizen-centered campaigns. We work across borders, disciplines, and technologies to uphold principles like privacy, inclusion and decentralization online. Our tactics are varied, but our vision is singular: a robust movement for internet health.

You can read more about the work Mozilla supports through the Fellowships and Awards program, and other projects like Common Voice and the Responsible Computer Science Challenge.

What is the Africa Innovation Mradi?

Africa Innovation Mradi leverages Mozilla’s role as stewards of the open web to promote innovation grounded in the unique needs of users on the African continent. The program establishes networks of partners and communities exploring and developing new technologies and products grounded in open innovation.

In addition to innovation, Africa Innovation Mradi incorporates a regional focus on the development and governance of technologies — and the impact each has on social justice issues (such as human and digital rights, equity, participation, and access), both on and offline. We believe social justice includes human and digital rights issues, meaningful access, privacy and data protection issues; and the replication of oppression in real life, marginalization and injustices online are also addressed. The program collaborates with mobilized African communities to highlight and mitigate the harms caused by AI and other technologies.

We define movement building as strengthening partnerships with diverse movements to deepen intersections between their primary issues and Mozilla’s. In the context of the Africa Innovation Mradi this entails multi disciplinary and intersectional collaborations with organizations working or in a position to address the needs surfaced by the lived experiences of Africans. We seek to do this by building ‘with’ and not ‘for’ African organizations and by cultivating a strong ecosystem of allies in the region to improve internet health and address major issues of African social movements and of the digital world. We commit to this by centering local leadership and expertise at the core of our efforts and facilitating connection and access to resources to amplify and sustain initiatives.

In short: Mradi seeks to contribute to the building of a healthier internet ecosystem in Africa, collectively.

What is the in Real Life (IRL) Fund?

The IRL Fund supports initiatives, projects and strategies led by African organizations that contribute towards a healthy internet. Specifically, we seek ideas that strengthen digital and human rights and impact communities “In Real Life”. This is a new, exploratory grantmaking mechanism intended to build a cohort of partners working on initiatives that address real challenges in the African continent.

Examples of the types of projects we imagine could include: grassroots initiatives that bring more women online in rural communities; art or multimedia works that highlight extractive online practices or suggest alternatives; a gender justice and digital rights organization collaborating together to raise awareness on the impact of a lack of online privacy protections and proposing solutions; a project that explores creative online spaces for youth activism; or the development of an open source app that helps farmers track and increase yield. This is not an exhaustive list; we welcome applications that are exploring new ideas that innovate around intersectional approaches that surface the lived experiences of Africans.

Grants come from a pool of $350,000 USD and are eligible to applicants across the African continent, with a particular focus on Kenya and South Africa.

What we are looking for

The IRL Fund seeks to support movement building efforts contributing to the development, utility and governance of technologies because of the impact each has on issues of social justice, both on and offline.

Through the IRL Fund, we hope to:

  • Connect technologists, entrepreneurs, civil society and policy makers who are addressing the impact of technology on social justice issues. And, to share knowledge and perspectives across disciplines with a focus on developing values-driven solutions.
  • Accelerate the work of “front runners” of the internet health movement, especially those already connected to, interacting with, and informed by lived experience, who can speak to and represent the needs and ideals of the ordinary citizen in the internet environment.
  • Support priorities articulated by partners and those emerging from convening processes: create spaces for sharing and/or defining the most promising “home-grown” initiatives, projects and strategies and channel resources towards those prioritized by partners.
  • Document and showcase innovations already happening across sectors in order to share learnings, inspire others, build momentum and attract more actors and potential funders.
  • Support strategic engagement and networking to increase visibility and representation of African organizations within digital rights groups, technology communities, regional and continental regulator convenings and internet governance forums.
  • Partner with those who can reach and represent marginalized communities: connecting with those largely left out of the digital rights conversations, including those who are unemployed, have not had formal education, women, LGBTQI+ communities and people with disabilities.
  • Strengthen initiatives that focus on the impact of technology on the work of civil society organizations with an emphasis on organizations that have an understanding of how internet health and AI play a role in their work, and/or can build public awareness.
  • Support the capacity building of institutions aligned with / contributing to internet health priorities on the continent to build institutional and leadership capacity, and digital resilience, of those that are poised to have enhanced impact with the right support.

Grant types

The grants under this call will support work led by not for profit organizations focused on and based in the African continent. The spirit of this call is to amplify and resource initiatives that explore the intersection of social justice and technology, and we encourage applications exploring new ideas that innovate around the lived experiences of Africans.

When completing your application, please ensure you meet the eligibility criteria below for the amount you are requesting. Applicants will also be invited to select ‘Project Support’ or ‘General Operating Support’ as the Award Type in the LOI. Please visit the FAQs to learn more about those award types.

Pamoja (Together) - $50k USD

We believe that oppression is interlinked. As such, we also believe that one of the pillars to strategic impactful change is collaboration. We seek to invest in the intentional organic connections between and across our respective movements and geographies by supporting collaborative work between organizations and/or across geographies.

This grant is fifty thousand US dollars for a 12 month period.

Eligibility criteria

  • Collaboration between 2+organizations or a network based/working in Kenya or South Africa, at least one of whom is legally registered in the country of focus and has been in operation for 3+ years; or
  • Pan African networks/art or media based collectives whose proposed work includes a focus in Kenya and South Africa. The organization applying on behalf of the network or collective should be legally registered in at least one country of focus and has been in operation for 3+ years; and
  • All applicants should have a strategy in place that seeks to integrate digital resilience or technology related innovation/advocacy.
Nguvu (Strengthen) - $25k USD

Oftentimes our ability to do impactful work is set against competing priorities in an already under-resourced environment. This award track seeks to fortify the ability of organizations and collectives to innovate, create and sustain their efforts. Organizations applying for this award are encouraged to include identified opportunities for intersectional collaboration with other actors and/or across movements.

This grant is twenty-five thousand US dollars for a 12 month period.

Eligibility criteria

  • Open to individual organization and/or collaboration between 2+organizations working in Kenya and South Africa;
  • This award can be for project based collaboration between for profit and not for profit organizations. The applicant would be the not for profit organization;
  • Arts or media based collectives/Pan African networks/collectives with work in Kenya and South Africa;
  • Applying entity should be legally registered in the country of focus and in operation for 2+ years; and
  • All applicants should have a strategy in place that seeks to integrate digital resilience or technology related innovation/advocacy.
Nia (Path) -$15k USD

The influence of technology and AI in our lives and the way we work is undeniable. This award track is open to work in the African continent that seeks to illuminate, address or rectify societal inequalities that are reified, exacerbated or originated in digital terrain. We are particularly interested in applications looking to take a new or experimental approach to finding solutions or contextual movement responses to the issues they are addressing.

This grant is fifteen thousand US dollars and can be for a grant term of up to 12 months. We invite you to suggest a timeline that makes the most sense for your work.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Open to individual organization, a collaboration between 2+organizations, or a network/collective from anywhere on the continent of Africa; and
  • Legally registered in the country of work. If not legally registered, has a fiscal host that is legally registered.

Review and selection

Projects will be judged by a committee of external experts. Awardees are selected based on quantitative scoring of their applications by the review committee and a qualitative discussion at a review committee meeting.

Only those projects meeting the applicant eligibility and award requirements listed above for these award tracks will be reviewed.

Reviewers will seek to identify initiatives that advance a healthy internet that translates impactfully in the lived realities of their respective communities’ partners in Africa, that apply a social justice lens, and that draw connections between digital and human rights. Successful projects should reach and represent real African internet users.

Selection criteria are designed to evaluate the merits of the proposed concept. The reviewers will consider:

  • The feasibility of the proposed work including the extent to which it connects to its geographic focus and strategic direction;
  • The extent to which the proposal engages an intersectional approach;
  • Impact and alignment: the extent to which the proposed work contributes to digital rights, public interest technology and/or internet health movements and will tangibly impact the communities served; and
  • Sustainability: is the proposed work part of a bigger picture?

How to apply

This call for proposals is currently closed.

Have questions?

Please check out our regularly updated FAQ page.

If you can't find the answer to your question, please reach out to us at [email protected]. Your questions will also be used to help us update the FAQ to respond to questions others might have.