These projects work to advance digital rights on the African continent both on and offline.

(KENYA | THURSDAY, MAY 25) — In November last year, the Africa Innovation Mradi launched the In Real Life (IRL) Fund with an open call for project funding worth $50,000, $25,000, and $15,000. The Fund fuels work by community-serving organizations on the African continent that are advancing digital and human rights, both on and offline — with a particular focus on Eastern and Southern Africa.

Today, as we celebrate Africa Day, we are proud to announce the first IRL Fund cohort. These projects, working at the intersection of social justice and technology, were selected by a panel of seven expert reviewers from over 100 applications.

This formidable cohort will spend a year working with Mozilla to fuel movement-building efforts that manifest the development, utility, and governance of technologies and their impact on social justice issues. The awardees, whose work ranges from a virtual lifeline for LGBTQI+ individuals to a program that seeks to train and equip women with digital skills, tackle issues that are most pressing for real-life challenges faced by communities on the ground.

In addition to financial resources, the selected projects will receive support from Mozilla through expert mentorship, collaboration and connections with like-minded leaders, showcasing of their work, and communications support.

Says Roselyn Odoyo, Senior Program Officer at Mozilla: “We are very excited to have this cohort join the Africa Innovation Mradi. As our first cohort, these future innovators will be breaking new ground in open innovation and producing meaningful impact on the African technology ecosystem. Their work at the intersection of social justice and technology will have an important impact on the everyday lived realities of the African communities they represent.”

We are very excited to have this cohort join the Africa Innovation Mradi. As our first cohort, these future innovators will be breaking new ground in open innovation and producing meaningful impact on the African technology ecosystem. Their work at the intersection of social justice and technology will have an important impact on the everyday lived realities of the African communities they represent.

Roselyn Odoyo, Senior Program Officer at Mozilla

The Africa Innovation Mradi is a program that promotes models of innovation that are grounded in the unique needs of users in the African continent. The program is exploring and developing new technology and products by establishing a network of partners and building a community to support these models.

Read about the projects:

Angaza Vijana | Kenya

This Kenyan-based foundation works with children to support capacity building on digital literacy and access to education programs within marginalized groups living below USD2 per day, with a primary focus on K-12 learners (ages 5 - 18). They will be scaling learning technologies offline by deploying nano servers that are Raspberry PIs.

Assoçiação Empoderando Moçambique | Mozambique

The association was formed in 2014 to support Mozambican leaders to find creative and holistic solutions to transform the systemic problems that plague their nation. They will expand their reach and partnerships for an app they developed called Juris that explains Mozambican law using a mixture of text and images to make the information easy to understand by a wide audience.

Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK) | Kenya

The Association of Media Women in Kenya aims to build the capacity of women journalists and human rights defenders at the grassroots to use online spaces in a safer way and to build their resilience. They aim to do this by teaching digital safety and providing skills in social media and other tools for their work.

Association des blogeurs du Burkina (ABB) | Burkina Faso

ABB is an association of bloggers focused on sharing information on ICT, communication, promotion of responsible citizen education, science, and culture. They will build fact-checking widgets for two prominent online press websites to combat fake news and disinformation and/or misinformation.

Civic Tech Innovation Network (CTIN) | South Africa

CTIN at the University of the Witwatersrand identifies as a Community Of Practice made up of practitioners, leaders, activists, technologists, researchers, and public servants who have an interest and commitment to leveraging the nexus between technology and civic activism. They will be working with 4 or 5 regional civic tech innovation organizations to develop and support strong regional outreach programs that focus on networked activism, showcasing, marketing, convening, and learning among civic tech innovators to promote the use of civically-driven technologies in development, governance, advocacy, and social justice in Africa.

Open Cities Lab | South Africa

MyCandidate by Open Cities Lab is a platform that empowers voters with easy-to-understand electoral information that anyone can access ahead of an election. The platform sources electoral candidate data and presents it on a widely-accessible web-based platform. This project will create a white-label toolkit to enable more African countries to run the MyCandidate platform in the build-up to their national elections, for example, Zimbabwe in their 2023 elections. This platform ensures that African citizens are empowered to play an active role in their country’s elections and democracy.

SameSame (SiyaFanaFana) | South Africa

Founded in South Africa, SameSame is building a virtual lifeline for LGBTQI+ youth in Africa, adapting a proven cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) intervention so that it can be delivered safely and privately through WhatsApp — helping young people struggling with their identity to fight depression and anxiety and boost their mental wellbeing. Their focus is to continue to evolve their WhatsApp chatbot for LGBTQI+ organizations in South Africa and Zimbabwe to boost their capacity to leverage the potential of digital tools in general and WhatsApp in particular.

Sistah Sistah Foundation | Zambia

The digital activism training for feminists and SGBV activists by the Sistah Sistah Foundation is a project that is centered around changing narratives, building African feminist movements, and strengthening the capacity of African activists. They aim to create a hub that teaches young activists how to use digital platforms to their advantage and create successful movements through digital activism. Their focus is on supporting minority groups who are often denied access to most training and have little to no resources. Their Activism Digital Hub will focus on providing training that is feminist, intersectional, and reflects African realities.

SIVIO Institute | Zimbabwe

SIVIO aims to measure the effectiveness of financial inclusion policies targeted at Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises, (MSMEs) and the practices of financial institutions in enhancing financial inclusion primarily through mobile and digital currencies. This measurement will culminate in the expansion of the SIVIO Institute- Financial Inclusion Index (SI-Findex) - an online tool developed in 2021 for MSMEs in Zimbabwe. Their aim now is to expand to Zambia, Malawi, and Kenya.

The African Centurion Initiative | Kenya

The African Centurion Initiative is an NGO that has been training children and rural communities on digital literacy. They will empower parents in rural areas to provide children with digital safety and well-being by co-creating content with the community itself and addressing the identified needs and concerns.

The Institute for Social Accountability (TISA) | Kenya

TISA pushes for the accountable redress of Kenya’s public debt crisis by ensuring the inclusion of youth, women, and marginalized groups. They do this by providing access to data, knowledge, and technical capacity to engage with the government on prudent and accountable tax management and budgeting processes for improved public services. Over the next year, they will convert their SMS-based application, the Jihusishe platform, and tap into other benefits of mobile apps like shared information resources, ease of use and real-time experience, and integration with other online platforms among others in the citizen engagement process.

Women@Web | Rwanda

Women@Web Rwanda has been operating since 2018 to address the digital gender divide. Their main focus is to train women in vulnerable communities and equip them with tools to help them navigate online efficiently and safely. They want to create digital champions in various areas that can train and support their communities on digital resilience in the local languages.