Two years ago we announced our first partnership with Omidyar Network, where they put $1.4m towards Ushahidi over the next 2.5 years. What most people don’t realize about ON, is just how much they bring to the table beyond funding, including strategic advice, human capital help, leadership training and network connections. It also gave us access to the other investees of ON, many of who are aligned closely with our core values and are at similar stages for scaling, making partnerships much more viable. We just concluded the very first ON Baraza (Gathering in Swahili) with the ON team at the iHub in Nairobi. It has been a fantastic day filled with insight from the ON team. We look forward to this continued engagement that is empowering on many levels, not only to Ushahidi but also to others in the ON Network in Africa.
Since that last announcement two years ago, Ushahidi has grown as a team, a community and an organization. We’ve seen the deploying community come up with amazing new uses of the software, multiple translations and this simple idea of changing the way information flows has now become global, with over 20,000 deployments in 132 countries.
We’re now moving into the next phase of Ushahidi, where we’re exploring ways to diversify funding away from our historically private foundation grant funding, by increasing earned income revenue. This includes direct customer revenue through Crowdmap, B2B revenue through SwiftRiver SaaS offerings and continuing our value added services work on custom deployments of the Ushahidi core platform.
With this focus in mind, we’ve entered into a new agreement with Omidyar Network for the coming three years for $1.9m.
Where this funding goes
The foundation of the platform’s overall ecosystem includes:
* Ushahidi Core is the main Ushahidi platform, as well as the mobile apps that support it.
* Crowdmap is the Ushahidi platform running in the cloud.
* SwiftRiver is the initiative of web services that make up Ushahidi’s real-time data handling and verification process
While Ushahidi has had a good deal of success in many areas, we still believe we are only half way up the mountain
Our goals for Ushahidi are simple; to disrupt the way information flows in the world by providing the best tools for democratizing information with the least barriers to entry. Ushahidi’s primary focus is to maintain the core work we do within our open source software, making sure it is always available for free to end-users. This means that we will double down on cloud-based services, improve platform usability, integrate the three products and understand usage and user needs better.
We see the future of Ushahidi tied very closely to Crowdmap as the front-end for millions of users. Then, taking our expertise in crowdsourcing and live-mapping, and mixing that with the tools and partnerships that we’ve put together over the years to create the most powerful and relevant platform for public consumption of real-time, dynamic data in the world.
On the platform side this requires three things; more attention to Crowdmap, a redesign of the user experience and tight integration with the SwiftRiver web services so it can scale.
Organizationally this means tightening the focus of what we do, putting in place a business plan that brings in significant revenue, and increased outreach and broadening of the user-base.
We believe that technology scales and people don’t. some additional team growth will be required, and most of these changes will come from a need to support a growing user base on our hosted systems, where the need for more specialized roles and team members will have the greatest impact.
Most of all, continued support by Omidyar Network means that everyone benefits, as Ushahidi’s platforms allow all of our voices to revolutionize the world.