Why we are Celebrating Five years of Existence: The Now and The Future!

Oludotun Babayemi August 31, 2017 0

157, 822 citizens in five years! That is the number of people that have been impacted by the 1,234 members of the Follow The Money network of Connected Development [CODE], tracking government spending on health facilities, teaching aid, and water supply in rural communities. Much reason why these community champions were celebrated on August 15, 2017, marking five years of CODE existence, at the Silverbird Cinemas, Central Area of Abuja in the Federal Capital Territory. For the future, CODE launched the web and mobile platform – http://ifollowthemoney.org a citizen participation platform, meant for knowledge exchange, knowledge sharing, and community mobilization.

“Great ideas will not come from the present organization you are working; it comes from interaction with other people, in conferences, networking gatherings, in some locations – like Yahuza Suya ( a famous meat shop in Wuse, Abuja), and Ceddi Plaza (a shopping mall in the heart of Abuja), which was where the conversation on starting this movement – Connected Development started” explained Oludotun Babayemi, the Co-Founder of CODE, in his welcome address.

                            A cross-section of participants at the CODE at 5 event

In Nigeria, according to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) investment and technology office in the country, 2 out of 10 start-ups manage to survive, not to talk of this feat the organization has been able to achieve in few years. Mr Ben Ubiri, popularly known as Ben200, an on – air – personality with Nigeria Info FM Abuja, introduced as one of the community champions was the host. He reiterated these statistics all through the 2 – hour event that comprised film screening of past campaigns – A video shut by Deutsche Welle on the Lead Poisoning in Shikira, and the launch of the future – an animated video in different local languages of why and how citizens can join the movement.

The high point of the night was the key note speech by Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, the pioneer Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) who reiterated the fact that citizens need to mobilize themselves on legitimate platforms like that of CODE which had to remain apolitical. “Even in trying times like this in our nation, we still see some young and energetic men, mobilizing and organizing less privileged communities to speak truth to power,” he said.He acknowledged the fact that corruption has eaten into the fabrics of the country, and that mass orientation by pressure groups like CODE will be worthwhile.

A cross-section of panellists at the CODE at 5 event

The keynote speech was followed by a panel comprising of social accountability advocates in the country – Oluseun Onigbinde, Lead Partner at BudgIT; Gift Omodedia, Senior Programmes Manager at Public and Private Development Center; Serah Maka, Nigeria Country Director at ONE. Others on the panel were Esther Agbarakwe, Adviser on Strategic Communication at the Federal Ministry of Environment; and Semiye Michael, the founder of DEAN Initiative while the panel was moderated by the popular online blogger – Japheth Omojuwa. The discussion hinged on how it has become pertinent for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to practice what they preach, especially on how they transition their organization to become sustainable, and not to become self-seeking, and rent – seeking organizations. Of course, two -hours isn’t enough to discuss this, but the bottom line was that CSOs should develop methodologies of incorporating the communities they serve into their organization and that their constitutions should state clearly how the leadership of such CSOs transit.

120 minutes isn’t a long time, so short that the fully occupied seats of the hall 4, at the Silverbird Cinemas, couldn’t but beg for a vote of thanks. Orchestrated by the Co-founder and Chief Executive, Hamzat Lawal who affirmed that the vision of the organization is to see the new born generation, and the future generation upholds the ideals and ideology of CODE’s Follow The Money. “No doubt, our immense thanks rest on on organizations like Indigo Trust, Omidyar Network, and a list of others, who saw the vision, and believed it is worth investing in – intellectually and financially,” Hamzat said in closing.

How to Grow Your Business: 5 Takeaways From The Omidyar Network Growth Strategy Workshop

Oludotun Babayemi November 30, 2016 1

In 2016 alone, I have attended three re – learning workshops and this was the third, in Sandton, Johannesburg, South Africa. This was my first time in South Africa, and nothing can be more exciting to be finishing the year re-energized, and ready to get 2017 cracking! I have been looking forward to the 3 – day workshop which started on November 28 – 30, 2016 at the Michelangelo Hotel, just because the last 4 months at CODE for me, has been dedicated to our growth strategies, and I know this workshop might affirm or deny various strategies that we have put in place to take the organization forward. Just to state, the 3 days were worth it, and I totally feel ready to get going in 2017, and below are the five things I really feel every entrepreneur should take cognizance of:

  1. Start Organizations to cede the controls: You need to have it at the back of your mind that you are not the owner of any organization you have founded. In Africa and some south Asian countries, many people start businesses and want to hold on to the business, and not cede control of the organization. You should be thinking of exiting the organization in the nearest future, so you can take an advisory role. It will also give you the reality of how the organization you have started looks like in the eyes of clients, beneficiaries and customers. Furthermore, organizations that have their creators, founders, and owners give up the role of CEOs and role of the board become successful, and become a big enterprise.
  2. Hire people that can take the organization to the next level: Once you have tested your product at the early stage ( 2 – 3 years), and it has worked, and you are now thinking of recruiting or adding more people to your venture, please hire people who are more knowledgeable than you do. In Africa, owners of businesses still bring in their families and friends, who cannot fit into the culture of your business (who are not capable), into the business at the early stage, thus stunting the growth of the business.
  3. Plan long term relationship before you recruit: If you rely on hiring through candidates sending CV’s to you, and interviews alone, then you might be wrong, as there are now books and videos that teach how to write excellent CVs, and also websites that hep candidates prepare for interviews . At CODE, we stopped recruiting this way, as 85% of the recruits end up not fitting into the culture and ideologies that the organization share. We found out that most recruits cannot cope with the task at hand, as such, we rely on a 6 – month internship period before you can become a core team in our organization.
  4. Develop yourself faster than your business: As an entrepreneur, you need to grow yourself, even at a faster pace than your business. 95% of people that starts businesses do not understand all stages of growth of their business, and because the kind of approach and thinking for each stage of the business is different, you need to learn more about managing business performance against targets; managing individual performance and growth; how to build and lead an effective board; frequent strategic planning for your business; building processes and business infrastructure to support future business scale and complexity; growing your human capital in line with business needs; prioritize and plan for the most important things, so you can balance work and family.
  5. Avoid scope creep, Focus on developing that one product: For you to achieve the four points with ease, you need to focus on one product, at a time. It takes a time to be good at one thing, so you must dedicate all your time to building that one thing that people like your organization about. It is better to be number one in one thing than to be number 2 in four different areas. This allows you to have time in design thinking of your product, also gives your staff the time to focus on specific tasks and become a perfectionist on it over time. Products such as Facebook, Apple, Microsoft had one thing their founders were thinking of – “improving on their one product, and making it better”.

These and other great learnings at the 3-day workshop was very useful, especially at this stage of growth for CODE itself. As someone that has been facilitating training in the past 10 years, I was impressed with the simplicity of the sequence of the presentation and great facilitation skills exhibited by Jason Goldberg, and the exceptional informational manual created by 10X-e. Omidyar Network‘s idea of human capital, aside the financial capital invested in investees, is a laudable idea, because many times, we all start businesses, ventures, etc without understanding the nitty – gritty or what comes up in the next 7 years, much reason why it is only 5% of start – ups that make it to becoming big enterprise. To all entrepreneurs amongst us, let’s keep grinding and learning – it’s the only thing we can do!

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Week – We Invite you to Join us at the #Opendata Olympics in Madrid!

Oludotun Babayemi October 3, 2016 3

On the week of October 3 – 7, 2016, thousands of data and governance enthusiasts, from over 40 countries will be heading to Madrid, to discuss strategies and tools to accelerate the government – citizen engagement; and the future of open data as a tool for empowering local communities. Many call it the Olympics of open data!

It’s quite exciting to see how these movement has grown – from the open government data camp in the UK in 2010 ; the open government data camp in 2011; the Open Knowledge Festival in Helsinki in 2012; the Open Knowledge Conference in Geneva in 2013; the OKFestival in Berlin 2014; In 2015, it then became the International Open Data Conference that was held in Ottawa You might want to ask, how conversations in these conferences have impacted local communities like ours, I tell you – Connected Development [CODE] and its activities is a product of some of the conversations, and we look forward to some provoking thoughts out of the 2016 edition in Madrid.

In Madrid, we will be learning new tools, and sharing lessons learnt with colleagues from other 22 countries around the world at the Omidyar Network Governance and Citizen Engagement Forum from October 3-4 at the Impact Hub; the Journocoders event with School of Data and Open Knowledge Spain on October 4 talking data journalism at Medialab – Prado; and on October 5, we will be speaking at the Indigenous Open Data Summit and also attend the Follow The Money IODC Pre – event at RED.ES  on October 6 – 7 we will be joining the conversation on Open Data, while we will be joining the panel on data + accountability on October 6

If you will want to meet with us at these events, feel free to email – info@connecteddevelopment.org, and also we will be live tweeting and blogging some of the great events lined up for us, so subscribe to our blog here and on Twitter @connected_dev Hala Madrid!

 

 

The Social Change Summit in Lagos: Attracting Resources to Address Nigeria Social Challenges

Oludotun Babayemi June 24, 2016 0

For some of you that are familiar with the Lagos mainland, when you say you are going to Yaba, it means you are going shopping just by the railway. In the 19th century, Yaba was known as the host of a railway garage market where Lagosians buy “second – hand clothings”. Digitalization in the 21st century has rewritten the narrative of the town to the technology hub of Nigeria.” We now have 60 technology companies in and around Yaba, this is something fascinating for us, as it was only us and the University of Lagos. When we moved here in 2012” Bosun Tijani, the CEO of Co – Creation Hub affirmed in his opening remarks for the 2016 Social Change Summit.

Amidst several tensions in the country, on June 23, 2016 about 80 participants gathered around the popular Herbert Macaulay space of Co – Creation Hub to discuss how to attract talent, resources and creativity to address Nigeria’s most pressing social challenges. I might not be right, but it seems the event greatly focused on Media and Digital Innovations. And why not? Every conference now have that word – innovation! Whenever you are in Lagos, you must innovate to get to events early, exactly what I did, by flagging a motorbike rider, to get me to the event, all the way from Ikeja! Please don’t inform Ambode, I only wanted to avoid the painstaking Lagos traffic, and remember, I came from Abuja.

The hall was enlivened by the keynote speech of Ibukun Awosika, the Chairman First Bank Group, who to me appeal more to the female gender, as I observe closely all the female entrepreneurs, in the room, nodding to every of her lines. Maybe, I am the one that is not a female activist, but the good news was that her thoughts on rethinking a was quite electric. “When they ask you for your state of origin, erase it, and add your state of residence, likewise we should start thinking of how we have our talents come together to start up innovative solutions to our growing problems” Awosika mentioned. But is Nigeria really taken apart by the about three hundred and sixty something tribes in the country. She further said “There are three hundred and something tribes in Nigeria, so can you create three hundred and seventy something nation’s, leave out Yoruba, Igbo,Hausa, and all & become a true Nigeria, infact the things we do now cannot take us to where we are going as a Nation, we must change the status quo”.

The second keynote, which was on independent media as a catalyst for social change, was given by Stephen King and Ory Okolloh of Omidyar Network. Imagine, this is the third event in 2 weeks that I will be attending, in which the media is been referred to as the pillar of social change. Shouldn’t this be a concern for media organizations in the country? I am still watching and waiting for new innovative TV channels that can stand and surpass Channels TV. However, let it not sound like I am a TV fan, I do YouTube more than TV, and also a radio fan, especially at peak hours. “Independent media should leverage on opportunities embedded in the use of local languages, and content that citizens can easily relate with, an example is Wazobia FM and Urban FM” Ory Okolloh asserts. Truthfully, I am in love with the way Wazobia FM relates with its audience, a real game changer in the broadcast industry in Nigeria, but I am an advocate of market competition, as such we will need more of Wazobia FM’s.

Inasmuch as we welcome this burgeoning outfits, challenges in sustaining the opportunities that are available in this space remain enormous. One would not easily forget the reputable NEXT Newspaper which started in 2008 and ceased publication in September 2011 owing to advert shortage due to government influence on advertisement space in its print. Afterwards NEXT, was Premium Times, a leading online news, and investigative journalism platform, created 2011 in Nigeria.In order for investors and media practitioners to understand key constraints and opportunities that drive this media innovation,Omidyar Network and Reboot published a report on accelerating development & good governance in the new media landscape which highlighted opportunities in the independent media. You should read this if you are interested in starting or strengthening your independent media

No doubt, talents are scarce, and entrepreneurs are finding it difficult to recruit talent as reported in the  Global Entrepreneurship Research 2016 Watch out for my reaction to the report in my next post.With several panel discussions during the Social Change Summit, it was resolved that entrepreneurs should not recruit based on only compensation, but should think on making talents climb the ladder as a leader, after all talent is one thing, and leadership is another. “Sometimes what you need is knowledge,and not more finance” suggests Paul Okeogo, the Chief Operating Officer at Chocolate City. Many times you need knowledge on managing a team, and growing your startup to scale, most of which you can leverage from your peers, funders and prospective funders. To become sustainable as well, you will need knowledge on monetizing your ventures by creating content that your audience can relate with. “You don’t just think you have an idea, and you can throw it to the market, you must know who are your audience by segmenting your market” advised Abiola Alabi, owner of Biola Alabi Media, and former Managing Director at M-NET Africa.

Forget it, the Lagos market is huge, and that’s why it houses 20 million Nigerians, but for some of us, that grew up in the city, it can be tiring at times, and now that we do not leave in the city anymore, it’s difficult for us to wait till conferences or summit like this finishes. Before 5pm, my motor bike man came calling “oga it’s 5 pm we should enter the road now, you know say hold up go don dey build up” when you are in Lagos you know what that means. Four days in Lagos looks like it was 1 month, but really it was worth the time!

 

How CODE Grew to Become a Voice for Local Communities

codepress April 20, 2016 1

This post was written by Tyo Faeren Jennifer, a Mass Communication Student of the Benue State University, during her Student Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) with CODE  

Connected Development [CODE] a non-governmental organization [NGO], headquartered in Abuja and formed in 2010, has empowered 9 local communities in Africa through its Transparency and Accountability initiative. And has mobilized 30 million Nigerians and 1 million citizens in 7 other West African countries to take action around Environmental Sustainability in Nigeria.

Through its Follow The Money project that advocates, visualize and track funds meant for local communities, it has helped in providing water to the 15, 000 inhabitants in Kadandani, Kano; Bachaka, Kebbi; and Jeke in Jigawa by tracking and advocating for the 10 billion Naira meant for the Great Green Wall project [GGW].

Follow The Money came to limelight by providing access to healthcare for 1,500 lead poisoned children, and providing hostel for 440 pupils, and providing an overhead tank for 200 pupils in government school in Zamfara State, communities.

At one of its traditional stakeholders meeting on making sure water is provided in three villages – Kadandani, Jeke and Bachaka, the representative from the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Mr. S.M.Babarinde said, “Follow The Money is the most objective transparency and accountability initiative I have followed over 2 years now on radio, TV and their online platforms.”

The World Wide Fund [WWF] ‘s Earth Hour , now coordinated by Connected Development [CODE] and the Young Volunteers for Environment, since 2010 has united the people of Nigeria and other Seven countries in West Africa by mobilizing millions of individuals, organizations and government to take action for the environment.  

It’s OpenDataParty [ODP] makes and spread open data. The ODP is where participants from every part of the country come together to learn and share data skills. It’s ODP has taught 430 Nigerians with hands on workshops, which included-Data Analysis using Google Spreadsheet and Microsoft Excel; Data Scraping using Tabula and Import.io; Visualizing data using Maps with CartoDB and Open Street Maps; Visualizing data using Info.gram

“I have learnt where to get budget for environment especially ones related to my state, and how I can analyze it using Excel, I never knew this before coming” said Erdoo Anango of Kwasedoo Foundation International from Benue state.

It’s Sustainaware  project,  an initiative that aims to improve Youth Knowledge, Interest and Leadership on Environmental Health, Green Economy and Social-Environmental Entrepreneurship), initiated by CODE’s European partners in 2014 was  and supported by the European Union connects eight partner countries (Nigeria, U.S.A, India, Slovenia, Argentina, Hungary, Croatia, and Liechtenstein), and now added Zambia and Somalia, as implementing countries of Sustainaware in 2016

CODE seeks global partners committed to a sustainable future and to empowering marginalized communities to make a difference by creating the missing feedback loop between the government and the people by amplifying the voice of these lurked away. Of course, these feat would not have been achieved if not for support from Indigo Trust, Omidyar Network, Heinrich Boell Foundation, Open Knowledge Foundation, Code For Africa, European Union and the thousands of followers on Twitter and Facebook.

CODE’S Follow The Money Receives Grant from Omidyar Network

codepress October 16, 2015 0

Follow The Money, a nonprofit initiative of Connected Development [CODE] has been awarded a one-year grant of US$100,000  ( NGN19, 894, 994 million) by Omidyar Network, mainly towards the cost of their projects in local communities which includes stakeholders meetings, focus group discussions, travel support, and visualization.

Founded in 2012 by Hamzat Lawal & Oludotun Babayemi, Follow The Money uses traditional offline engagement methods and technology tools to track government and aid spending at the local level. In 2012, the initiative was able to save the lives of about 1,500 children in Bagega, Zamfara state who needed  urgent medical attention for lead poisoning.   And after the 2012 flooding in Nigeria, the group was able to track 17 Billion NGN allocated for intervention and document the impact on affected rural communities. In 2015, the group’s activities convinced the federal government of Nigeria to change its controversial US$49.8 million (NGN 9.2 billion) clean cookstoves plan.

“Foreign aid and government spending should be grounded in in how spending affects local community realities.  Government programmes that track the impact of funds in local contexts are still remarkably rare,” said Hamzat Lawal, the chief executive of Connected Development.

Omidyar Network’s grant comes through the philanthropic investment firm’s Governance & Citizen Engagement initiative, which works to build stronger and more open societies by increasing government responsiveness and citizen participation.

In the past, Follow The Money had received grants from The Indigo Trust, Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), Heinrich Boell Foundation, and Open Knowledge Foundation and The European Union.

 

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[In Abuja – Nigeria, for Connected Development/Follow The Money , Oludotun Babayemi +234 09 291 7545 0r/and oludotun@connecteddevelopment.org]

 

For more information about Follow The Money, please visit http://followthemoneyng.org

For more information about Omidyar Network , please visit https://omidyar.com

 

Editor’s Note:

Follow The Money is an initiative of Connected Development [CODE] that advocates, tracks, and visualize funds meant for local communities. The Team is made up of Researchers, Data Analysts, Campaigners, Journalists, Legal Practitioners, Activists, Information Managers, Students, and Academia & Development Consultants.

 

CODE is a non-government organization whose mission is to improve access to information and empower local communities in Africa. We strengthen local communities by creating platforms for dialogue, enabling informed debate, and building capacities of marginalized communities which ensure social and economic progress while promoting transparency and accountability.