Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Interview with Amira Salah from Kherna

I interviewed Amira Salah, co-founder of Kherna, which is a social networking platform for organizations devoted to good causes. In a nutshell, Kherna provides an online platform, where civil society organizations can post their updates for online users to see their activities and services in real-time. Kherna is winner in WSYA 2011 category "Fight Poverty, Hunger and Disease".

How did you get the idea behind Kherna?
The idea was sparked during the holy month of Ramadan when NGOs in the MENA region normally start using traditional marketing to raise the awareness of their activities. We have come to realize that the traditional marketing is so expensive for most of the NGOs and also not that effective especially after the rise of social media. We tried to think of other ways to get those NGOs the marketing they need with some affordable channels. Back then, we were working in social media and new technologies that we thought can be the answer to the traditional marketing alternative dilemma.

How long have you been working with Kherna, and how did the project start?
We have started planning for the idea in June 2010 when we found a business plan competition held by Yahoo and Nahdet Elmahrousa that is a famous NGO here in Egypt. We started to work on Kherna business plan to apply in the competition and we won among others in the competition later in 2010. Then we resigned from our jobs in Jan 15, ten days before the Egyptian revolution to work on Kherna. We started the technical work a day after Mubarak stepped down and got a beta version live at Feb 22.

Currently how many people are there actively working with the project?
We are three co-founders "Ahmed Yahia - Mohamed Salem - Amira Salah" and we have another three team members who have joined the team weeks ago.

How do you advertise Kherna?
We mainly use the social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook. Lately also we were covered in many national magazines and TV shows.

Do you get support from any organizations/companies?
We had fund from the competition we won back in 2010 that helped us start the project and we are currently working on many partnerships to support the growth and sustainability of Kherna.

What is the most memorable experience you've got from working with Kherna?
Being among the winners in the WSYA international competition was a memorable experience for us. We applied early in 2011 and found that we are among some amazing pool of winners later in 2011. We traveled to Austria for the reward ceremony and we can truly say that this 4 days trip has been so fruitful for us. Through the event we were exposed to global media, mentors from different areas of the world and daily networking with world wide winners.

What are your future plans? Are you going to spread the project to other countries?
Yes, we are aiming at expanding in other markets for sure ad I think we will work on that by the the end of this year. We are also working on a mobile version that will have lots of valuable features such finding the charitable activities happening near your place and the ability to check-in and participate.


Thank you Amira for your time, and I wish you and Kherna the best of luck in the future!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Girls Only Radio – Interview with Amani Eltunsi

I sat down with the Amani Eltunsi in World Summit Youth Award. She is the founder of WSYA winning project Banat wi Bass (Girls Only). We talked more about her motivation and goals.

Girls Only is an Internet radio run by women for women. Their programs consist mostly of discussions and talking programs but they also play local oriental music.

Girls Only radio station has gained huge publicity and success gaining 5 million subscribers which has totally surprised Eltunsi. But she says that success has never been her goal but to improve her country.
- The lesson I learned from my mother was that everybody has a message in life to deliver and this is mine, Eltunsi says.
When she was working as a designer making advertisements and magazines she didn’t feel doing important things that has meaning like now with her radio station. She was shaken by violence she saw a man doing to his wife. Eltunsi tried to help and talk to the woman but she was too scared to speak up. So Eltunsi felt that she wanted to give women of Egypt a voice and output channel to their opinions.

The feedback has been mainly positive, but Eltunsi has had her fair share of negativity also.
- Some tell us to go home to cook and that women should not be doing things like this.
But these attitudes are what Eltunsi is trying to change in Egyptian society and she says that she rather focuses on the positive comments. She says that Egypt is far behind compared to Tunis for example as far women’s rights are concerned.
-The social political atmosphere was better during the 18 days revolution in Egypt last spring and couple months afterwards but things have slid back to their old ways, Eltunsi explains.

Funding the radio station has been the biggest problem from the beginning. Eltunsi started by taking a loan because she couldn’t find supporters for the station in 2008. Later on she got money from advertising agency but when economic crisis hit the agency cut their finance to radio. Eltunsi took matters into her own hands once again and started writing book about the rights of women and homosexuals.
-People asked me how I dare to write about those matters.
But selling the book kept her station going. After the revolution book sales have plummeted though since people are struggling to get money even for food.

The Egyptian revolution brought also other problems. The Internet was down during that time and Eltunsi was on forced vacation. She used the time to film events on Tahiri square. The military regime is also trying to bring up the controversies between Copti-christians and Muslims, keep people busy and silence the discussion about the rights of women.

Eltunsi hopes to have regular funding and permanent working place for her station in the future.
-I would like to run it professionally and pay regular salaries to the staff, she says.
Though she likes her work and feel it’s important it isn’t always fun.
-It’s hard work and it is sometimes difficult to face the hurting of people.
Eltunsi says that she would also be interested in working with Harassmap – another Egyptian WSYA winner – in the future to improve the status of Egyptian women in their society.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Viewspaper - Interview


I met Shiv Bhaskar Dravid, founder of The Viewspaper, at WSYA and also had a chance to interview him. Shiv told me he has been making the most of his time at event and sees it as a good opportunity to find out, what other people are doing, and to get new ideas.

Here are the questions and answers:

How do you want to change India with The Viewspaper?
I want to change India by creating a powerful voice for young people that is heard and can make a difference. I also want to change the perception that youth are not serious and cannot talk sense.

How many persons do you have in the staff running the service?
We are currently a staff of 6 people.

What concrete changes to the world have you made with the site?
I think what we have done is created a voice for young people which is taken seriously. For the first time we have created a media company which carries young peoples opinions on anything and everything.

What is the most memorable feedback you have got about The Viewspaper?
The most memorable feedback that i have got about The Viewspaper is that it changed a persons life by giving the person the opportunity to say what he felt like. The confidence it gave him resulted in him becoming journalist.

You describe the goal behind The Viewspaper: “In our hearts we believe that we are part of a revolution that is growing. A revolution that is taking the world by storm.” What kind of revolution are you seeing ahead?
The revolution that we are talking about is that of change. Change caused by creating conversations and getting young people to express what they think.

Thanks for the interview, Shiv, and good luck for the future plans of The Viewspaper – maybe we’ll see it also in Finland some day!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Interview of Make A Difference






I had the pleasure to interview Jithin Krishnan from Make A Difference! MAD does an amazing job helping disadvantaged children to get access to a better education and therefore a better future. You can go to MAD's website by clicking here.

Tell us a bit how you got the idea for this project!

In 2006, a few college students visited a center by the name of YMCA Boys Home in Cochin, India to just spend some time with the under-privileged children there. When asked what the children wanted next time such a visit happened, the college students were in for quite the surprise. The children there said they wanted books. At that age, what we wanted was SO superficial. Yet, here were these children, who wanted a window to a better world, knew what the window was, but had no access to it, and no hope of gaining access either.

These children study in vernacular medium schools, and when they pass out by age 15, the education that they've gone through is absolutely no use to them. Why? Because to progress in life, academically or professionally, they need English. One of the things that you don't gain out of a Government school education in India. Back on the streets, with nothing to fall back on, their dreams and ambitions go for a toss. They just wasted 10 years of their lives going to a school and subscribing to an education that did not do them any good.

Anyway, these college students decided that something had to be done about it. So they went back next week and started a library at YMCA Boys Home. That was the starting of MAD. (These college students were my seniors in college. I got involved later in the year.)

Soon, we realized that just a library would not solve the issue. We had to bridge the gap between them and a private school education. So we set about designing a syllabus. After three attempts, we finally settled on the Cambridge English curriculum, and that is how our English project operates currently. Our children go through The Cambridge English curriculum and write the First Certificate in English Test at the end of five years.

Coming back to what it was back then, after a year, we realized that there were more gaps to be filled. Along came the Placements project which provides children exposure to professions by field visits and talks by professionals. Then came the life-skills project wherein we do camps to build on creativity, confidence etc. There is also a full-fledged library project that was kicked off last year, and an Infraspire project that provides infrastructure to children in our centers.

As I said at the WSYA presentation, the journey is not yet complete. We keep coming up with projects to impact our children more and give them a better chance of pursuing their dreams, whatever those maybe!

Were there obstacles on your way to make this project possible? If yes, what kind?

Obstacles? There were several! Yes. The first obstacle that we initially used to face was that we were young people. (As unbelievable as that is!) People used to tell us that since young people are never serious about anything, that we wouldn't succeed or that we'd fold in a few months. Credibility, hence, was a major issue the first three years. Especially when we were smaller as an organization.

An associated issue of course was that we had trouble fund-raising. Although we get the Cambridge curriculum at a subsidized rate, it still has to be paid for. The cost of putting one child through the English project per month is around Rs. 176 (About 3 Euros). And we work with 3500 children. Things though, are slowly, but steadily, turning around. We've been around for five years now. And people do understand that we mean business when we tell them about what we do.

Hopefully that will keep improving.

Do you get support from other organizations / institutions?

Make A Difference, for the most part, is an independent organization. Zoho, the office supplies provider, is our major sponsor. Other corporate houses such as Google also pitch in with contributions that have kept us going through the years. MAD also recently was awarded the YouthActioNet Starbucks grant for young people who have social projects. But as MAD grows, we're moving more towards autonomy and micro-donations and retail to support ourselves.

What is your best moment / memory you have from this project?

The best memory? That's a real tough one. Have lots. But, if I had to tell you about one, I'd tell you about one of my first students in MAD. Rajesh.

He was a very quiet kid, never used to talk much, never used to participate in anything, and never used to open up to anybody. Took quite a lot of prodding and pushing on our part to get him to open up to us. And one day, he sat down and told me all about his father who couldn't support his children, and who had sent him away to the Home because he couldn't support a family anymore. He talked to me about how he knew that he'd end up like him one day. At 15, Rajesh had already gave up on life a bit. He was pretty sure he'd flunk out of school at the final board exam and that'd be the end of that. But. He did want to study.

So we started giving him and another kid from YMCA (I used to teach at the same place as MAD started for one and a half years, before I moved to Chennai) tution on other subjects also. In the run-up to the exams Rajesh kept telling me that he was sure that he'd fail, and I kept telling him that he'd do just fine.

On the day that the results of the Board exam came out, Rajesh somehow got to a pay-phone (I don't even know where he got the money to make the call!) and called me and yelled into the phone "I got through!" One of the most proud moments that I've had. Let me assure you, there is no such thing as the satisfaction a teacher gets when a student gets well.

Rajesh, eventually got into a school near his actual home, and today, lives with his father and is continuing his education.

How do you get new members/volunteers?

We have volunteers. We have an online portal where people who'd like to volunteer with MAD register. (www.makeadiff.in) Every year, at the start of the academic cycle, the HR head of a city calls up all the people who registered from that city, and invites them to the recruitment drive. We also do viral campaigns to attract more volunteers if there aren't enough registrations from a city.

Once at the recruitment drive, the attendees are put through three rounds. Those who make it through end up as MAD volunteers. Now. If that sounds very rigorous, well, it sort of is. Why? Because we take volunteering VERY seriously. If somebody is going to class and teaching our children, we need to be absolutely sure that they're capable, committed and believe in the work they're about to do. Can't make compromises there! Hence, only about 10% of people who register with our website end up as volunteers. Currently, we have about 1000 volunteers.


Who are usually the active members of your organization? (Students, workers, young /older people...?)


MAD is a youth volunteer network. Our volunteers are mostly college students and young working professionals. Last time we did a head-count, the average age of a MAD volunteer was just around 20.

But, let me clarify, there is no such thing as an 'age limit' in MAD. MAD is for people who are young at heart. They can be whatever age they want to be. But, they need to bring that extra MADness to the table! :D

Do you have any plans on how to spread your actions in the future?

We HAD plans to expand. Now, we have a process to expand. But, MAD doesn't expand to towns/cities where it wants to. We wait till we have enough registrations from a particular city to set up that city's first core team *. Then somebody from MAD's expansion team (A team of experienced MAD volunteers) visits the city, interviews the core team, briefs them on what they need to do, and how, and basically incubates that chapter.

Currently, MAD is functional in 19 cities. This January, 2 cities will be added to the list. The academic cycle ends in March. So March-July, we'll do a further expansion drive. There are another 18 or so chapters waiting to be incubated.

* Core teams: Every chapter has a team of part-time MAD employees who are called MAD Fellows (From MAD Fellowship). They handle different departments of the chapter's functioning such as Human Resources, Public Relations, Operations or Corporate Relations. MAD Fellowship is for those volunteers who want to do more, and play an active role in shaping the progress and growth of the organization.




Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bell Bajao! Ring The Bell Interview


Interviewers: Bulbul Mukherjee and Katie McDonough.



How did the project start?


Well, the need to do something was obvious. Statistic numbers were talking for themselves.*
The biggest challenge was not only to help protecting women, but also to tell people that domestic
violence is not OK, it's not a privet business of every family. It is wild. We definitely needed to take some actions about it.

What action are you taking to help women?

First of all, our project is oriented mostly on men and boys. We want to educate them, because they are
an integral and very significant part of violent situations happening at home. We want men to be involved in this to prevent violence not to create it.
We also create supporting trainings for women.

What is the biggest challenge to achieve your goals?

Cultural stereotypes, no doubt. Many people truly believe that being abused is a normal part of everyday life.


What kind of trainings? Can victims of domestic violence find any help there?

Yes, sure. During our training we teach men and women about human rights. The rights of freedom and the right on health. The importance of every single human personality and there is always a way to solve any problem without physical violence.
We also educate men what to do when they hear something bad is going on behind neighbor's doors. Our concept is extremely simple - just ring the bell. Ask for something usual, simple, maybe even obviously ridiculous! Just make them see that people hear and don't like what's going on.
Victims of domestic violence help to spread information as well. They start feeling much better helping other women.

How do you promote your movement? Of course, the internet is very powerful nowadays, but a lot of people in India may not have it. How to make them hear?

Yes, you are right. Internet is not available for everyone in India as, for example, in European countries.
That is why we split our budget in four equal part: one to supply TV commercials, second part for billboards on the streets, third - for maintaining trainings, and the last part - for the Internet.


What are your plans for the near future?

We are working really hard on getting police involved. We are organizing special trainings for police officers.
We want to educate them as well that it is not a private business of a family. Women deserve to be free from violence, they just need someone to help them on this way. And police is meant to be protecting people.


*Around 35 percent of Indian women suffer from physical violence at the hands of their partners while nearly 40 percent men and women think that it is sometimes or always ‘justifiable’ for a man to beat his wife (UN Women report on Progress of the World’s Women: In Pursuit of Justice, 2011-2012)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Interview with Ignacio Cordero from AVENTONES

pic of Aventones team from aventones.com (Ignacio Cordero front right)


During the WYSA I met very interesting and ambitious people, with great knowledge and amazing future plans. One of those people was Ignacio Cordero from Aventones, Mexico. I got interested in their project and highly believe, that it has great future opportunities in problematic cities concerning the traffic, like Mexico. Read and learn more about Aventones and its creators, why the participated in the World Youth Summit Award and what their future plans are.

What was your motivation for participating at the WSYA?
Our main motivation was having the chance to meet and exchange ideas with people from all over the world who have an authentic desire to influence society in a positive way, and also receive feedback on our project from web experts and learn new ways to collaborate.
How did you get the ideas for this project?
Living in a very problematic city in terms of traffic, pollution and consumption of resources, it made a lot of sense to think in new ways to help dealing with this issues. With that perspective. Aventones emerged as an idea that could put on commuter's hands, the power to solve this problems.
How long till now have a been working on the Aventones project?
It has been one year and two months since we started working on Aventones
What differs your project from others, similar ones, already on the market?
Our main competitive advantages are the following:
  • Culture creation: In a society where car sharing is not a common practice, it is critical to motivate and encourage users.
  • Security: Because our customers demand reliability, our service meets the highest requirements of security in Internet
  • applications.
  • Know-how: Experience has allowed us to implement and operate our services in a very agile manner
  • Positioning: As the first service of this nature in the Mexican market, we are positioning the company as a benchmark of Good Practices

Which impressions and memories did you collect during the WSYA?
Being in the WSYA allowed me to meet young and extraordinary people and learn about projects that are already having significant impact in improving the main social problems of the planet. From the workshops, I learned new ways to develop our project, reach new markets and offer a better service. Last but not least, I made great new friends from all over the world!!!
What are your future plans with Aventones? Are you going to develop and expand your platform further? (till now, Mexico and Chile?)
Our plan is to keep reaching new organizations in Mexico and yes, start to offer our services in Chile on January 2012. We also plan to expand our platform to the main cities in Latin America also in 2012, and hopefully be global after that!! Our final goal is to evolve our project and make it available to any individual.

Thanks a lot for giving us more insight into your project Aventones. All the best with it!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Education Generation interview

Mila Lukic and Eileen Knowles receiving their award during the Youth Award Gala

I had the greatest pleasure to discuss with Miss Eileen Knowles about the Youth Award winning project Education Generation. She is the executive director of the project, and like the rest of her team, very dedicated to make the world a better place for everyone. Here's her interview:


Who are the core members of Education Generation? 
Eileen Knowles, Executive Director
Mila Lukic, Partnerships Manager
Shawn Smith, Director of Operations
Christina Wu, Community Director


For those who don't know, could you tell why you started this project?
-One: We saw an inefficiency in the traditional child sponsorship model, with high overhead costs and high costs for donors.
-Two: Traditionally the education for development sector has focused on need rather than potential and opportunity. We wanted to move away from pity-driven charity and give the donors the opportunity to understand more complete stories about the students they support.
-Three: We saw an opportunity to focus not only on access but on quality education. The big question was (and still is): "How can we train the next generation of leaders to address the world's big issues?"
-Four: We were interested in filling the gap of funding for secondary and tertiary education, since the governments and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) focus mainly on primary education. 
-Five: Many members of our team come from the "developing world" and were ourselves scholarship recipients; We'd like to extend the opportunities that were given to us to others.


How has the international community reacted to your project? 
There's been tremendous support for the work we do. Our goal now is to extend our reach and are excited to be featured in this blog to receive further attention and feedback!

What has been the best moment for you?  
I get joy from interaction with our students, when it becomes obvious that the work we do is worthwhile. Whether it is receiving an update from a scholarship recipient, meeting future scholars while traveling to Ecuador or reading updates from students... There are many instants through the year that we can consider the 'best'! 

Do you also support some of the students yourself (by donating to their scholarships)?  
Yes! All our team members are donors.


Where do you see yourselves going in the future?

We'd like to get more involved in discussions about innovative education. We are also preparing to launch new features on our website such as:
  • Ability for individuals to launch their own scholarships in support of a particular student. For example, you might want to start a scholarship in the name of your family, town or school; We want to take the traditional scholarship approach (where institutions, families or endowments donate to students) to everyone. 
  • We are creating a platform for our partner organizations to share best practices to add value to their work. 
  • We are looking to launch and donate larger scholarships as our website traffic increases.

Something else you would like to say to the readers?

Please visit our website and consider donating as little as $20 to our students. Also, please share our work with your friends! Visit our sharing tool on our site to invite others to donate: http://educationgeneration.org/get-involved/ . 
We'd also love to hear from you, e-mail us at eileen@educationgeneration.org .


Thank you for your time, Eileen, and best of luck with your project in the future!



Education Generation facts:
More than 250 scholarships funded to date.
$100,000+ in early funding raised from corporate and private donors.
A constantly growing network of partners, already in Afghanistan, Ecuador, Ghana, Kenya, India, Pakistan, Peru , Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Uganda.
Over 600 active online community members
3,000 + online following

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Interview with Mashallah News



"We wanted to just collect blogs, it was nothing ambitions and we wanted to write something we saw and couldn’t write in anywhere else" . This was how Isabelle Mayonnaise and Micheline Tobia, two out of three founders of Mashallah News, described the early days of their web journalist platform. Now this platform covers all major cities in Middle-East from Istanbul to Morocco. The birth of Mashallah News took place in Beirut Lebanon where three active citizen were fed up about typical news coverage of Arabic world. Wars, royalties and politics were only thing discuss in different medias and point of views were usually very polarized. "You couldn't have middle view or something describing what was happening". News lack the topics about underground cultural and citizen activism.

Mashallah News brings daily life of local people and street culture in to the wider audience. This kind of news coverage has been quite rare and in marginal for long time. Because of this, there is a tendency of thinking these cultures are all one homogeneous mass. "If people would read more they would get a wider image and would change but if you’re not exposed to this kind of news its completely normal to stay ignorant. That's why there is Mashallah News. You can just imagine how crazy daily life in the underground scenes of Iran for example is, but you never had the tools to inform your self about it". Isabelle and Micheline underline that the articles they pick for publishing have to contain fresh and alternative point of view. "You cant just write something because its poverty, not just about the emotion. And we don’t wanna do just good news, but the news that are uncovered. We don’t choose the topic because it's popular, we choose the topic if its interesting for us". For example issue of over population and expansion of City of Istanbul is dealt by writing about artists that uncover this in their work. When discussing about challenges, Michelle and Isabelle say that the biggest problem is writers self-censorship. Some times writers are afraid to write with their own name or they are afraid to be too provocative. Some issues like women rights and gay issues are still taboos in these countries. But there is always a way to avoid this. "They rather describe something that happened rather than write something that angers someone, but you can get the message through anyways". According to Micheline and Isabelle, spring 2011 (Arabian spring) didn't change the situation that much. "We started before Arabic spring and we found interesting people, the blogs were already there. Now people are maybe more open to talk about those subjects, about taboos people are maybe more open. Before this spring there were this energy ecisting for sure! These things, they were present, they were definitely present"

When launching Mashallah News, three of the founders had already quite wide network through out big cities in Middle-East. For recruiting more writers, they search through existing blogs and sent over 700 traditional emails with hardly any replies. "We wanted to have professional content in the sense that we ready every piece two or tree times by different people with different background and different language skills". They also contacted lot of University departures but with lack of luck. After a while, when Mashallah News had existed for some time, they started to get contacts from interested people. "More and more people are writing our inbox that we wanna participate. Like someone who’s from Italy and knows about Libya, lot of people from different backgrounds and it is inspiring. When we went to see them, they had reach out for they network and finally we ended up meeting 20 people that wanted to participate by donating money, spreading the news or even writing articles". Now they cover 20 major cities all around Arabic world and have over 50 journalist, artists or bloggers creating content for the site and publish 4 to 5 articles or stories in a week. They co-operate with different activist organizations such as feminist movements, citizen journalist and they have gained lot of new contacts in Middle-East and Europe. Co-operation is essential part of their work since Mashallah News itself is coalition of bloggers and journalist from different backgrounds. "Its good to co-operate and to be open for any kind of help and experiences, its only helpful". In the future, Mashallah News will focus on developing itself to be more like multimedia platform. They also think, that dealing with one major subject for a period of time will make the content more whole. "Idea was to start work on a projects or a scenes, because we started to do theme weeks and there were lot of interest for them that more than for isolated pieces, for both writers and readers". Articles, videos, sound reports and visual contents will all cover one subject all around the major cities Middle-East.

Taking part in WSYA, Micheline and Isabelle gained lot of new contacts from the area they are working at. They were also able to share and reflect their ideas with other people working for similar projects. By being a winner in the category “Create Your Culture” gives recognition for their work and credibility.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mathias Haas - Exclusive interview


Mathias being interviewed during the WSYA

  • Who are you? 

Mathias Haas, 24 years old, from Austria, CEO SuperSocial, WSYA Ambassador, Red Bull Student Brand Manager and a Law student at University of Vienna


  • What was your role in this year’s World Summit Youth Award and how did you end up there?
I am WSYA Ambassador promoting the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) in Austria and with SuperSocial I am a Social Media Partner of the WSYA. In 2007/2008 my partner Stephan Hamberger and I won the Netdays Award from Salzburg Research & the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, Arts and Culture with the Project “Facebook Application Intercultural”, an app for Intercultural Dialog on Facebook. In 2009 we were nominated for the World Summit Youth Award in Mexico and we were honored as winners and one of the best e-Content Projects in the category “Create your Culture”. 


  • What is SuperSocial Marketing? 
SuperSocial is a new media agency developing marketing solutions. We help brands to listen, understand and engage in conversations in social media. We are a new kind of agency, but conversations between people are nothing new. We strategize! We design! We talk! We motivate! We make sure that brands are pushing their social media strategy to its full potential. These days social media is a essential element of social conversation. If you want to know more about how to use social media to build your brand, then let’s talk!

Smart. Creative. Professional. Innovative. Super. Social. SuperSocial Marketing.


  • Where did you get the idea? Who else is involved?
The idea was born because many companies were in need of Social Media Consultants and I was asked by friends to help them, and their friends asked me too, and so on… I decided to find my individual business and so I did. Working with me I have three programmers from the University of Applied Sciences Hagenberg, and two team members from the University of Vienna and local Partners all over the world.


  • As a former winner of the Youth Award, do you have any tips for those young people who might consider taking part in the next Youth Award competition? 
Believe in your project. Use all possible social media tools. Find partners and network partners. Try to get other people involved. Make it international (languages!). Declare your targets and combine them with the MDGs. Be extraordinary and jump across borders.


  • Any other words of wisdom you’d like to share? 
Stop waiting for others changing something in the world. Use your voice, user your energy and use your network, get on your feet and start being the change you want to see! Don’t give up and believe in yourself. With a collective effort let’s change the world into a better one. Stay awesome… Stay SUPER…


Thanks Mathias for the great interview! 


Be sure your check out the SuperSocial Marketing webpage!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Interview with Carina Schmid from The Global Experience

During the Friday afternoon at the University of Graz, Carina Schmid, the project manager of The Global Experience, agreed to sit down with Emma and I for a while and discuss about the organization and her role in it!



Schmid explained to us that the story and motivation behind The Global Experience started when she traveled to Africa 8 years ago and realized how different it actually is to visit other countries and cultures herself than just watch documents on TV. It really puts things in another perspective. Without traveling yourself you will have no clue what the life outside Europe is really like. Also she realized that helping the poor can be a lot more than just donating, and so the idea of The Global Experience sprouted. The aim is to give people the chance to meet and discuss with people from other cultures around the world and give the most motivated ones the chance to actually travel to the other side of the world to live and learn about other countries!

Being the project manager of The Global Experience, Schmid told that it gives a part-time payment but is a full-time job. Her tasks include applying for funding, evaluating projects and handling all the communication inside and outside of the organization. On top of that she also studies at the same time!

When we asked about the forums of The Global Experience which give the chance for people around the world to interact and exchange information with each other, she said that it has been working quite well. Of course it does not give the same impact as the real world events, but it helps people to learn more about each others cultures. YouTube language videos made by the organization brought more interested users to the forum. As in every forum, there are also some scammers, but a good reporting system helps to get rid of them quickly. Schmid describes the atmosphere of the forums to be very personal and friendly. Even though some arguments may arise, they are usually handled quite well.

The Global Experience also organizes meetings and events that take place around the world. Schmid says that the best thing in such events is to meet new and old people, exchange information and network. Seeing a crowd of people in the same place just because you had the idea to organize the event feels amazing, Schmid explains.

When we asked about the funding, Schmid told that there are no general sponsors or advertisers at the moment, but that they are constantly sending out new applications to gain more funding. People working in the organization are mostly volunteers.

In the end of the interview, we asked from Schmid is she had something to say to our fellow IMPs, and she did! "Join the community! We need Finnish users to tell us more about the Finnish culture and change the assumptions that everyone has about Finland!"

Thank you Carina Schmid, and congratulations!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Interview with Heba Habib – HarassMap

From 10th to the 12th of November we attended the World Summit Youth Awards (WSYA) in Graz, Austria. We witnessed many amazing people who presented their projects that in some way aimed to fulfill the millennium development goals. While we had the opportunity to enjoy all the projects, we decided to concentrate on HarassMap – a project that has its roots in Egypt.

During the Gala on the 12th, we had the honor of interviewing Heba Habib – the spokesperson of HarassMap at WSYA. Our first impression of Miss Habib was that she was an energetic and fun-loving, young woman with a big heart.

We began our interview by asking her what the purpose of HarassMap was, and she eagerly answered that the main purpose was to discourage harassment of women, and to showcase that it really is a big problem. However; now they’re taking their initiative to slightly different direction. HarassMap will soon be getting a new outlook and a broader target group – not to mention a new name. “Catch Harassers” (their new name) will not only focus on the harassment of women, but also of men, disabled, children and the elderly. Miss Habib clear on the fact that they wanted to implement the male population in their project – as harassment is not only something that affects women. Furthermore, when the project was only geared towards women, the male reaction wasn’t very positive, as some men mocked it by saying for example “Oh, so this is where I can go to harass women! Nice!” …Which, of course, was not the desired purpose of the mission.

We were also interested in finding out more about Miss Habib’s role in HarassMap. She is not the creator of the project, but decided to become a volunteer after she heard about her friend being involved in this important and vital venture. One of her tasks in HarassMap is to get the video part of the website up and running – in addition to work with, and recruit, new volunteers. The topic of volunteering, however, brought up some of their most challenging obstacles. As HarassMap is solely comprised of volunteers, all the members have their own lives, full time jobs, families and studies to attend to – which often makes it hard to find people who have the time to stay fully committed. For example, Miss Habib told us that recently one of the volunteers she was closely working with, suddenly dropped out, even though she had seemed very excited and committed at the start – which sadly often proves to be the case.

We should be able to walk down the street, and visit our local food store without being afraid of getting harassed. This is one of the most important things for us involved in this project.”

Personally we found Miss Habib to be a very open and warm person who is easy to talk to. We were happy to find out that they were moving HarassMap away from only women, to rather focus on a broader target group, because you will not achieve gender equality by focusing on separating women from the mass, and presenting them as weak and vulnerable.

Great initiative solely based on donations and volunteer work. We are impressed!

-AK & Maria

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Zabatak - Caught you!

Zabatak - Caught you!

Mostafa Raafat from Zabatak, the anti-crime initiave, gave us a few moments for an interview in the coffeebreak on Saturday’s workshop. Zabatak was started in February 2011, just few days after the Egyptian revolution. The background for Zabatak lies in the corrupted environment in Egypt that resulted from the revolution. The police had disappeared, it was every man for themselves. There was a need for exchanging information, so Zabatak started to collect reports from anyone in order to push authorities to take action.

According to Mostafa Raafat, the project has started very well. People have found Zabatak through Facebook where an introduction video was posted. Mr. Raafat says that there have of course been inappropriate posts and crime reports, but that has not been a problem. Any false report can be easily detected, because they usually lack information such as evidence, description of the situation and the sender’s details. All the reports are being moderated in advance.

Mr. Raafat thinks that Zabatak could easily be applied in other countries, as well. The categories can be changed according to cultural features. The platform called Ushahidi, that is used in Zabatak, is the same that is also used in Harassmap. Mr. Raafat believes that some kind of advertisement co-operation could be possible between Harassmap and Zabatak.

In the future, most likely by the end of 2012, Zabatak will expand to Libya, Syria and Tunisia. Mr. Raafat tells that Zabatak has gotten positive feedback and support from the private sector. The government is rather corrupted, but it has some good institutes as well. After the revolution, probably partly thanks to Zabatak, people in Egypt have a better feel of security and safety. Zabatak has generated transparent statistics on corruption and different crimes. It truly has made the world a safer place to live in.

-Tia Tuovinen & Vesa Rantanen
Mostafa Raafat, in the left, with his colleagues Abbas Ibrahim and Ali Elhefnawy

First morning in Graz, in pictures!




Cloudy first morning in Graz

Wondering the street decorations...

Happy IMPs!

Gossiping?

Our Austrian specialist Sabrina feeling the IMP adventure spirit!

Organic apple sale

Sunshine, finally!

Cute dogs all around Graz

Trying to throw leaves....

Alex shoving the girls how the leaves SHOULD be thrown

We almost left poor Kristina behind!

The old bakery, definitely something I recommend visiting

Beautiful view from the central bridge

All IMPs think alike


Read report, day 2


The report of day two at the World Summit Award Festival has been published on out Art&Media Blog. It is composed of the Twitter feed generated by the IMP students.

Report Day 2: http://tamk-artmedia.blogspot.com/2011/11/youth-award-festival-in-graz-day-two.html

Read all the WSYA stories on the Art&Media blog: http://tamk-artmedia.blogspot.com/search/label/WSYA
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Friday, November 11, 2011

Write3: Interview

Some time ago I introduced you a citizen journalism tool & platform called Write3, winner of Pursue Truth! -catergory. After spending only one day in WSY Awards I’ve already learned quite a bit more about this awesome project! I met the creator of Write3 S M Ashraf Abir (CEO of Multimedia Content & Communication Ltd) in person and had a talk with him about his work in Write3.

"I always want to change my country into a developed,
secured, youth connected society. " - S M Ashraf Abir


Behind every success there's a story


Earlier the day Mr. Abir had a pitching presentation at WSYA about Write3. He told us why he started this potential world wide known citizen journalism tool.

In 2009 Mr. Abir went to his village in Bangladesh. During the visit he met his old friend who showed him a shocking video. Mr. Abir’s friend had been witnessing a 4-year-old girl’s shocking kidnap. Three men had just come and kidnapped a little girl. Mr. Abir’s old friend had been able to find a hideaway and filmed the event. 
After the shocking happening he went to the police station and showed his video footage to the authorities. Thanks to the video the police tracked down the kidnappers and saved the little girl’s life.

This event was very striking to Mr. Abir and he wanted to create a new kind of media platform for the citizens. Now we know this platform as Write3 where anyone can publish stories of their own lives or events they witness.

Video footage posted by Write3 users
At the moment Write3 is rising to be more known in Bangladesh and it’s advertised in mainstream media. Daily the Write3 mobile application is being downloaded 470 (avg.) times. The application is available to download from Nokia Ovi store and in December 2011 the mobile application is available for Android Market as well.

Developed future ahead

Mr. Abir is looking brightly to the future and he sees that the platform will have 5000 regular citizen journalists. He also assumes that Write3 will have 1 million readers by the next 6 months.
Write3 has a lot of potential because its simple idea and easy platform. Mr. Abir was even hoping that people from Finland would start to participate to the project after I promised to advertise Write3 to people. I do see a risk in this because the cultures and issues between Bangladesh and Finland are very, very different - each other’s opposites even - especially when it comes to topics like human rights and corruption.
Of course there will be lots of benefits as well if you combine different cultures together in Write3. People get to know new cultures and get new perspective in to their own lives by seeing how the every day things are somewhere else. Through this point of view people might start to be more active and stand for their rights in their own lives which is the golden idea of Write3.


So if you're inspired to blog and report about the issues of your country, area or city - join Write3 and tell about it to the world!

Links about Write3:
Website
Facebook

Day 2 in Graz

First things first! Bewrages in Graz are good, pretty cheap and you've got amazingly beautiful places to enjoy them! Evidence:

Vesa and Tuomas enjoying beautiful weather at Schloßberg. Photo by Tuomas Mikola.

Graz is a stunning city but we're not just on a vacation. Fortunately our "job" is really interesting and fun. After quick stop to Kunsthaus Graz - a specimen of skill in modern architecture - we headed to Joanneum University of Applied Sciences. We had a tour to their premises and got brief introduction to their degree programs. We saw cool 3D animations and my first though was "sign me up for exchange period" but apparently they have classes in English mainly in masters degree.

3D animated introduction video.

A student working/chill out lounge where they are actually allowed to paint graffitis on the walls!

In the evening we attended Youth Award Festival opening at ORF Landesstudio. The place looked like a space station. We had the opportunity to meet interesting people and hear about interesting project as well as to dine and wine. Talking of great hospitality.

ORF

The vegetarian option was lacking, so to say.

Aching for more Graz!

IMPs arrived in Graz!

Photo: Alexandra Ostasheva
Arrived late Wednesday evening at Hauptbahnhof Graz.

Read about day one on our ArtMedia Blog: http://tamk-artmedia.blogspot.com/2011/11/youth-award-festival-in-graz-arrival.html
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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Foggy morning for the IMP travelers

The fog surrounded us almost all the way from Tampere to the Helsinki-Vantaa airport


It was a foggy start for the IMP Graz trip, but it seems that everyone has finally made it safely to the Helsinki-Vantaa airport. It's about an hour till our departure to Vienna and the weather seems to clear out nicely. Let's hope the sun still shines when we get to Austria! And also, let's hope that the food is not as expensive there as at this airport... Next time, IMPs should pack their breakfast with them at home!

iko, the pupil's best friend

iko is a project being carried out by five students from Gobelins, l'école de l'image (Paris). The project is the result of a two year graduate course. The aim of the project is to further digital education in France, by creating a tool that meets real demands in a user-oriented fashion. The target group are junior high school students, and this is because this demographic is tech savvy, and they will most likely grab onto this new tool quickly and with enthusiasm.

iko is an intelligent diary concept, which is composed of two elements. The first is a digital pen, and the second is the application that works with it. The point is then that you use the digital pen to write notes, and the pen stores everything you do. Then you can just browse all the stuff you have written in digital form. However, iko goes further to combine other media elements as we can see here:

the iko concept

So, after a student synchronizes their pen's content to their computer, they can combine other media resources into the notes. For example combining some internet content, or tying their digital notes to a schedule so you know when what was written in a more visual fashion. iko also builds on social media, by allowing the sharing of digital notes.

All in all, iko is a bridge between written notes and the digital world of information. Considering that writing real notes still retains a special interest, it's nice to bridge it across to digital resources.

For more, visit: http://en.projet-iko.com/

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Zabatak - Caught you!

Zabatak is an Egyptian, non-profit, independent initiave that aims to promote safety in the streets. It is founded and produced by Mr. Abbas Ibrahim, with co-producers Nagla Metwally, Ali Hefnawy, Mostafa Raafat and Amr Sobhy.
The aim of Zabatak is to reduce corruption and protect people from street violence and gangs. Via crowdsourcing Zabatak collects useful information on incidents of fraud, car theft and bribery in major Egyptian cities. The portal was founded as a reaction to the poor security situation and the rise in lootings and assaults during the January uprisings in Egypt.





Zabatak warns citizens of dangerous areas with a high crime rate and encourages them to contribute to a safe and corruption-free Egypt. By reporting any sort of illegal activity they witness, citizens should feel safer and more empowered.
Anyone can report irregulations, thefts, frauds, violence, violation of buildings or corruption in a certain area. Reporting can be done via: 1.email,
2. messaging through twitter following # zabatak, or
3. a form in the site.
An interactive map shows the areas which have had some negative activities.Users can select to check just certain areas and all the irregularities that have happened there, or they can select a crime type and search just that category.

Corrupt officials stand no chance when their misconduct is not only observed, but also
reported. Since the site‟s launch in February 2011 more than 60.000 users have visited
the site. 600 incidents of theft and bribery have so far been reported and marked on the
interactive map.