Once a year, technology leaders from more than 30 of the world’s leading international NGOs convene for a week with one main purpose: to share. They share their ideas. They share their energy. They share their frustrations. They share their optimism. They share their experience.
This may sound simple on the surface; most of us learned how to share as children. But, consider that most of these organizations are in competition with each other. They compete for funding, talent, mindshare and more. Can you imagine the leaders of for-profit businesses sharing so much with each other?
NetHope members come together in collaboration because they have a common goal of improving the effectiveness of their programs. These are programs that help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS from expectant mothers to their unborn children in Kenya; that build safe places for people to live in India; that provide training and education to rural family farmers in Uganda; and much more.
Though we may only meet in-person as a full group once a year at our member summit, NetHope and its member organizations collaborate 365 days a year. As we celebrate 10 years as an organization, we’ve come to realize that collaboration and trust is what we do best. Prior to our founding in 2001, there were gaps between the work people were doing in the humanitarian, technology and innovation for development sectors, with no consistent thread connecting groups that were all working independently on what were really the same common problems. NetHope became that thread, creating an ecosystem where there wasn’t one before.
It’s not just our members who will travel far and wide to join us this week as we gather in County Kildare Ireland for our 10th anniversary summit, hosted by Intel Ireland and Concern Worldwide. We’ll also be joined by leaders from top companies and organizations like Intel, Accenture, Cisco, Microsoft and USAID, among others. Together we will discuss and formulate plans that address significant opportunities and challenges facing NGOs in the developing world like internet connectivity, shortages of local skilled IT professionals, cloud computing, barriers for local women who want to pursue careers in IT, and more. We have dialogue because it leads to innovative ways to scale and leverage technology as a means to address humanitarian issues worldwide.
Take for example the NetHope Academy, which is growing the next generation of IT leaders in the developing world. The NetHope Academy evolved over time from discussion at an early member summit, where among other things we discussed the serious need to train and educate technology professionals in parts of the world where they’re needed most. We originally piloted the IT Skill Building program in Africa. Later, that concept became what is now known as NetHope Academy. Our NetHope Academy in Haiti graduated 39 student interns earlier this year, more than 80% of whom now have full-time IT jobs. Over the next three years we are scaling the program to train more than 1,000 interns in Latin America and Africa. This is just one example of the types of programs we create when we collaborate.
We’ll be sharing our observations and progress throughout the week on our NetHub blog. I hope you’ll follow along and, more importantly, collaborate with us by joining the conversation on NetHub as well as via Twitter using the #NHSummit11 hashtag.