From corporate boardrooms to NGO field offices, “growing to scale” is a concept that’s increasingly on the discussion agenda. But what does it really take to scale up a program or an innovation? Does quality always get sacrificed in favor of quantity? More importantly—can new technologies, like mobile, help take a great project to the next level?
These questions, posed by the USAID- and MasterCard Foundation-backed ‘m-Education Alliance’, will be key topics for debate at the upcoming event “Scale & Sustainability in Mobile Technologies”. Hosted by Development Gateway in Washington, DC, on May 8, the session will bring together Brookings Institution researchers and development experts to share their views on mobile tech’s role as a catalyst for community project scale-up.
Maurice Masozera, Monitoring/Evaluation Specialist for the USAID-funded Akazi Kanoze Youth Livelihoods Program, is one of these panelists. Drawing on his experience leading the roll-out of a Souktel mobile job platform for this EDC-led project, Masozera will facilitate a discussion about ‘lessons learned’ when using SMS for participant tracking, outreach, and job matching.
Akazi Kanoze, which means "work well done" in local language Kinyarwanda, harnesses the potential of Rwandan youth by organizing career counseling, hosting job training sessions, and creating opportunities for young job-seekers to interact with entrepreneurs, employers or mentors.
Souktel’s JobMatch platform is integrated into these activities as a tool that helps youth search for work via text message. Partnerships with mobile networks MTN and Tigo ensure that service users can access SMS job listings (or create SMS “mini-CVs” with their qualifications) at low cost. Meanwhile, an online data tracking interface keeps tabs on participants’ usage of the system, and lets EDC staff know when they’ve been matched with work or further training and education.
For Akazi Kanoze, the mobile service isn’t just a way to make job information and data collection more accessible—it’s also the key to scale: By 2014, the project aims to reach 15,000 youth in partnership with the Ministry of Public Service and Labor. SMS job-matching allows for outreach to a far greater number of young Rwandans, at a far lower cost than traditional channels like job centers.
The Washington, DC, event is the latest in a series run by the Mobiles for Youth Workforce Development (mYWD) Working Group, an initiative of the m-Education Alliance. In partnership with the MasterCard Foundation and USAID, the Working Group is a community of practice dedicated to exploring how mobile tech can increase young people’s access to employment and workforce skills.