In 2014, CGHR investigated spinning out Africa’s Voices from University research to put the project on a more sustainable footing, as an independent organisation but with strong links to Cambridge. We envisaged a social enterprise business model to ensure longevity of operational, technological and research development.
For its pilot (2012-13), Africa’s Voices worked with leading social technology innovators – Ken Banks and the team at FrontlineSMS – and their open source software for collecting and managing text data. It developed from parallel core research programmes funded by the Cairns Charitable Trust, the Isaac Newton Trust, the Alborada Trust and the Economic and Social Research Council and the Department for International Development. The Africa’s Voices pilot ran across 8 sub-Saharan African countries, gathering over 600 texts in each round and attracting attention from local authorities, politicians, development organisations, tech companies and the research community.
After pilot success, CGHR focused on new technology and research collaborations, including with IBM Research Lab Africa, and use case development with the likes of BBC Media Action, Kenya.
In early 2014, CGHR engaged with the Cambridge Judge Business School's Global Consulting Project for MBA students. A team of four MBA students analysed the sustainability of the project as an ongoing social enterprise. The team benefited from some preliminary research performed by three HSPS undergraduates. The JBS team spent three weeks in Nairobi, meeting with various parties including the UN, DFID and a number of local radio stations.
A version of the team's final presentation can be viewed below: