24 April 2017

Meet the "Funders" - FOIP attends a meeting with Indigo Trust's founder

SAHA was invited by Indigo Trust, which generously sponsored the development of the Requestee Database Tool, to attend a meet and greet and brainstorming session with Fran Perrin, the founder of Indigo, and her husband William Perrin. This provided an excellent opportunity for Indigo to get to know their grantees a little better but also for the grantees to get to know one another and see how they can learn from and support one another.

Those in attendance

There were representatives in attendance at the meeting from various civic organisations that have received grants from Indigo Trust for the development of civic tech aimed at improving transparency and accountability. Attendees included Saflii, Africanlii, Parliamentary Monitoring Group, Black Sash and Open Democracy Advice Centre.

OpenUp's Accountability Stack

After a brief introduction by everyone in the room about who they were and about their projects, funded by Indigo Trust, OpenUp's Jenifer Walker led the way in presenting their idea of an "Accountability Stack". The Accountability Stack is founded on three principles - enform, empower and activate - which form the foundation of their methodology of strengthening participatory democracy. The basic idea is that citizens become active and take action to improve their lives when they are informed and empowered to effect change.

The Accountability Stack was the cornerstone of the discussions that took place with attendees highlighting their successes, failures and current obstacles in ensuring that civic technology furthers participatory democracy. With every story that was shared lessons were learned by SAHA and fellow attendees on how to strategise and ensure that civic technology is able to reach indigent citizens who may not necessarily be informed and lack empowerment to take action. Whilst this may not always be the case, it is a reality which is facing indigent South Africans today.

Looking ahead

A key takeaway for SAHA was that when civic technology is being developed it should be done from the ground up and in a manner that ensures the tool is accessible to the broadest range of citizens. This is why SAHA is constantly brainstorming on how to further improve its PAIA Tracker and Requestee Tool in order to ensure greater access to information in South Africa can be achieved. This meeting has indicated to SAHA that innovation is necessary in order to make civic technology impactful, which is why we at SAHA are keen to take a few dusty ideas off the shelf in order to create greater access to SAHA's tools, in order to ultimately ensure greater access to information.