If you don’t like the game, change the rules. On September 30th 2015,Ushahidi launched the newest version of our Ushahidi platform on a hosted service. This marked a historic moment for Ushahidi, not only is this an incredibly powerful and improved technical version of the platform, but Ushahidi is also looking to conquer a new challenge and set an example in the world.

Ushahidi is almost eight years old. Throughout our history we have been trend setters and norm-breakers. We are a unique organization that has changed the paradigm of expectation more than once. At first we proved that we could build a technology startup out of Kenya that focused on creating real solutions for real problems. Over the following few years we aimed to prove that an African startup could compete as a global tech company and scale to truly worldwide reach. We now have staff in 11 time zones, have scaled our platform to over 160 countries, and are part of the teams which manage multi-million dollar funds such as Making All Voices Count and Resilience Network Initiative. We next aimed to put Kenya on the map (pun) as a technology center for the 21st century, and as United States’ President Obama stated in his visit to Nairobi to attend the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, we feel confident in Kenya’s position as a leader in the global tech ecosystem.

So what’s next?

At Ushahidi we next aim to prove that this technology company helping people raise their voice through open-source software can be financially sustainable. We have grown our revenues by an average of about 60% year over year, resulting in roughly 30% of our overhead now being covered by paid client services. We have done this primarily through consulting projects, and are incredibly excited to launch a more scalable system that can support all our users.

One of the ways we set out to achieve this goal of financial-sustainability is by investing in our product. This newest version of Ushahidi is the result of some incredible work by our team. I am sure you will find some bugs and have lots of feedback, and that is exactly what excites us. This is where the fun begins; user testing, iterating, more testing and more iteration, to improve our product’s ability to solve your problems.

Our big audacious goal of sticking to our mission, our users, and our commitment to open source while reaching financial sustainability has resulted in the exciting plan to adopt a software as a service model model for the hosted version of Ushahidi. This software as a service model frees us to better serve our users. We believe this will allow us to prove that a social enterprise is most aligned to its mission and can be most effective when it is financially beholden to, and therefore serves, its users first and foremost. We polled our community and found that over 70% of you were willing to pay for the Ushahidi service. As such, there will is still a free plan on the hosted platform, and if you are a grassroots organization who can’t use the open source version, we will give you access to the hosted-version with no limits for free.

To be clear, we believe in open source code, and this is still an open source product. When we contribute code to the greater commons that means anyone can build from it. It’s foundational, and Ushahidi has always been about building foundational stuff, platforms, code, communities, internet access. So the code base is free and open, and you are welcome to grab it, contribute to it, and help us make it better for everyone.

Ushahidi has always thrown rocks in the water, breaking the surface tension. Looking forward I truly believe this is our chance to change the paradigm of the non-profit and social enterprise sector. I believe this is a pivotal, game-changing moment in this space, and we can lead the charge. We can prove that a mission-driven tech company that serves its users first and foremost will build better products for its end users. We aim to show that non-profits working in partnership with foundations to support core operations can make a larger impact by being directly accountable to their end-users.