NINTH ANNUAL MEETING OF THE
INTERNET GOVERNANCE FORUM 2014
"CONNECTING CONTINENTS FOR ENHANCED
MULTI-STAKEHOLDER INTERNET GOVERNANCE
02 SEPTEMBER 2014
FROM IDEAS TO SOLUTIONS:
FUNDING CHALLENGES FOR INTERNET DEVELOPMENT
The following is the output of the realtime captioning taken during the IGF 2014 Istanbul, Turkey, meetings. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to the inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the session, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
>> SYLVIA CADENA: We are going to start five minutes late. It seems there is confusion for some of the room numbers for some people and we are missing some speakers. So just give us a few minutes while they get here and get settled.
>> DUNCAN MACINTOSH: Good morning, everybody.
Thank you very much for being here this morning. Sorry about the little mix-up concerning the rooms. But we're delighted that you all managed to make it.
My name is Duncan Macintosh. I'm the development director at APNIC. I'll be moderating for the first half of this morning. Of course you know my colleague Sylvia, from APNIC as well.
Just to make sure we're all in the right place, this is the workshop on "From ideas to solution, funding challenges for Internet development." And this morning what we hope to do is have a series of brief presentations from our panel here, who we will introduce in a moment. And then really try to engage in a productive discussion around the opportunities for support and resources in the area of the use of the Internet for social development. We're particularly pleased that in the audience and joining us this morning are representatives from the Seed Alliance, the different programs -- FIRE, ISF, SIDA and others who will be participating and looking forward to learning from the discussion.
So with that as a brief introduction, I'd like to turn now to our panel that is gathered with us. We are delighted to have them here. And I think I'll let them introduce themselves and invite them to just take a minute to introduce themselves, their organisation, and what they would like to say this morning. So I'll start with Jens on my left.
>> JENS KARBERG: Okay. My name is Jens Karberg. I'm coming from the Swedish International Development Agency, also called SIDA. I just want to present a bit about what our support looks like and the challenges I think for some of the partners to access the money, and so on.
Should I present something now or should --
>> DUNCAN MACINTOSH: Yes. Let everyone introduce themselves then we will come back.
>> LAURENT ELDER: My name is laurent Elder and I work for the International Development Research Center, which is a Canadian Crown Corporation that focuses on research for development. The big programme that I lead is called Information and Networks. And that programme actually funds the Seed Alliance as well as SIDA and a few other partners.
I'm mostly going to talk about two things. One of them is the whole challenge around thinking about public funds for an area like innovation, that Seed Alliance is involved with, and the challenges about thinking about what those public funds should be used for.
And the second thing I'll talk about is about failure and tolerance to failure in this space.
>> JENNIFER HAROON: I'm Jennifer Haroon and i'm from Google. And I'm mostly going to talk about some of the private sector investments that Google has made in Internet development worldwide. But also some of the challenges in some of the funding and partnerships that we do in this space as well.
>> DUNCAN MACINTOSH: Thank you.
>> ADIEL APOGLAN: I'm Adiel Apoglan, the CEO of AFRINIC. I will be talking globally about the Seed Alliance and FIRE, which is the Forum for Internet Research and Development that is part of the Seed Alliance. And some of the challenges that we face specifically from Developing Countries in participating in this kind of fund. The FIRE is supported by IDRC and SIDA. And also the need for capacity building in applying for this kind of funding.
>> DUNCAN MACINTOSH: Thank you, Adiel.
And last but not least, Ihab.
>> IHAB OSMAN: Hi. I'm Ihab Osman. I run a technology advisory firm called Africa TMT. And I'm here to talk about bringing start-up and entrepreneurship fundraising techniques into the social entrepreneurship and Internet development, and just a traditional business start-up fundraising technique.
>> DUNCAN MACINTOSH: Thank you very much. I'm sure you can see it's a very good panel. And I think for the next few minutes we will have some very interesting presentations.
I'm pleased to see a few more people joining us. Welcome. Please come down. There are some seats at the front.
We have one more panelist. Ernesto. Please come down and join us. Ernesto, could I ask you to introduce yourself. Just a brief introduction.
>> ERNESTO MAJO: Okay. i am Ernesto Majo. I'm interim CEO of LACNIC the the former manager of Freedom.
>> REMOTE MODERATOR: Please do that one more time, using the microphone, for the external audience.
>> DUNCAN MACINTOSH: Okay. One more time.
>> ERNESTO MAJO: Okay. I am Ernesto Majo. I'm interim CEO of LACNIC and also former manager of Freedom.
>> DUNCAN MACINTOSH: Thank you very much. Okay. So let's get started.
To the panelists, I'd like to just -- there is one simple guideline and that is to try to limit your presentation, your comments, to five minutes a piece, before giving it to the discussion.
So Jens, please, the floor is yours.
>> JENS KARBERG: Thank you very much. As I said, I'm coming from SIDA, which is a governmental organisation. So our funds are coming from the Swedish citizens. It's tax money. And we, Sweden, spends around $5 billion U.S. Dollars a year on development cooperation. And half of that money is going through SIDA as an agency.
I think when I speak to partners, they see it's quite hard to access organisations like SIDA, and for different reasons, both in terms of access points, in terms of bureaucracy, and in terms of the criteria we put up for different organisations.
When it comes to access points, for example, we -- SIDA is an organisation that is working both globally, regionally and bilateral with contracts. And all the different regions, it's different access points. For example, if you are coming as a local organisation in the country, you need to go through the embassy. And if you are working with regional projects, you have to go through the regional contacts. And for me, working with global money, it's another point. So it's both regionally dispersed, but also the different areas. And all these access points are different people.
And one of the problems I also see is that we are not fully coordinated within the organisation. So if someone accesses me, it's a big risk that I don't know the people you should speak to.
When it comes to bureaucracy, it's also quite a big problem. We have quite hard criterias for the organisations that are accessing our money, for different reasons. One is that our funds are quite big. Our smallest fund is around $1 million US for the grants. And going upwards, up to 30, 40 million dollar grants. And to give out this kind of money, we have quite a large procedure for doing that. And for smaller organisations, it's quite hard to be able to cooperate with these procedures.
So as it is today, we're supporting around 350 different programmes which has a component including ICT. So 350 out of around 5,000 supports that we do have today. Most of the supports are in the area of democracy and human rights.
Another group would be in private sector collaboration and entrepreneurship. And another area -- not an area, really, but a group, is an integration in some -- where the major impact is in another area. For example, that it could be in health or other areas, where ICT is a component for integration.
I think I stop there.
>> DUNCAN MACINTOSH: You're very kind with the time. Thank you. But that's a good introduction for the topic. And just to remind the audience, what we're speaking to this morning is the complexities of funding innovation in the public interests.
So, Laurent, if I could invite you to make your remarks, please.
>> LAURENT ELDER: I may keep this even shorter, actually. Well, one of the big questions that I have or that we have is what is the public interest? I don't think there is an answer. If any of you have an answer, I'd love to hear it, because there is a lot of debate as to what that public interest is. And that becomes an even bigger question for us when we're publicly funded. We are Canadian taxpayer funded. So what does that mean? I was going to open it up a little bit. But I guess you want to keep it until the end?
>> DUNCAN MACINTOSH: No. I think we're interested, so please.
>> LAURENT ELDER: Okay. So does anybody have a notion of what this public interest notion means? Can somebody come up with like a one-word thought around that?
I challenge you. Anybody?
>> DUNCAN MACINTOSH: Someone from Malayasia, please.
>> MALAYSIA: One word?
>> LAURENT ELDER: Well, just a concept. Like why are we talking about the public interest?
>> MALAYSIA: It's a few concepts in terms of public interests. For me, coming from Malaysia, it's something related to something like Democracy. It's like what everybody wants, including the protection and needs of the minorities in a public space. That's what I can think of.
>> LAURENT ELDER: Right. And that's a pretty good encapsulation. Normally it's anything that goes beyond -- it's often contrasted to private interests. So it's something that goes beyond the private, beyond the market, to the public. So quite often public funds are seen as being used for public good. What does public good mean? What does it mean to fund a public good, especially in the innovation space?
One of the notions could be that it has to do with a public interest area. Health. Education. Environment. Those kinds of areas that are generally the consensuses that those are public good, public interest areas. So then it becomes for a funder easier to think about activities there.
But when you're dealing with entrepreneurship or innovation or technology development, that question becomes a lot more complicated. Where is that boundary between the public interest and the private interest? It's not clear. Every time it's a case-by-case basis, quite often.
Another kind of rule of thumb is that you can get involved in or public funds can be used whenever there is market failure. So whenever there is an issue that you know the market can't take up, you could use public funds to help subsidize and catalyze technological activities. We have a few Seed Alliance awardees who deal with issues of the blind and other basic challenge issues where there usually isn't a market response to these things. There isn't a market incentive to create applications around there. So public subsidies can be used for that kind of purpose.
The second area on technology innovation where public funds can be used is when a technology can potentially lead or technology funding can potentially lead to positive economic externalities. So that is a lot of complex talk just to say that at the end of the day you expect that by funding a technology, you will have spillover effects or you'll be able to create other broader technological innovation, employment, and income generation through that funding of the technology.
Sometimes you do it purposefully, as in the case of railways in the 19th century. And sometimes you do it without knowing it. The Internet is probably the best example of a publicly subsidized technology that was created for defense purposes, and lo and behold it turned out that there were great kinds of economic benefits to it, spillover effects.
So when the public gets it right, when the public -- the Government. The Government gets it right, it can have really good spillover effects. But there is -- it's very difficult to pick winners.
So that brings me to the second point around tolerance to failure.
Because we're publicly funded, because we're taxpayer funded, the tolerance to failure is minimal. We are not expected to fail. We are not expected to have a situation where you fund something and it doesn't do anything useful. It is very -- and it's actually become increasingly difficult to fail. Yet in the innovation space, you have to fail. It's through failing that you learn. It's through failing that you actually advance and progress. Most studies that evaluate innovation tell you that if you're lucky, 10 percent of your product innovation will actually go to market. That's a very low success rate for a Government funded organisation.
So how do you deal with that? How do you factor that into your decision-making process? It is very, very complex. I know that in the space that we were very involved with in the past, there is a big movement towards talking about failure, talking about failures and things like that. And that's great. That space needs it. But I can tell you working for a taxpayer subsidized organisation, it is very difficult to talk about that more openly. So these are the kinds of tensions that we have to deal with when thinking about how we fund and what we fund in this space.
And I'd be happy to take any questions after that.
>> DUNCAN MACINTOSH: Thanks very much, Laurent.
Okay. If I may invite the next speaker, Jennifer, for your remarks, please.
>> JENNIFER HAROON: Thanks. I think both Laurent and Jens mentioned that they come from taxpayer organisations which leads to their own constraints. At Google we are not directly a taxpayer organisation, but we have our own constituents, such as shareholders, employees. And so when we think about Internet development and some of the issues that Laurent in particular talked about, including failure, you know, we come from a slightly different point of view. And we think about Internet development as both a business for Google, which I think is obvious, being an Internet company. But also a mission-driven activity, since we really believe in the power of the Internet to bring information to people.
And so we fund internally a number of different projects on the innovation and technology side that we feel may be able to bring Internet to more people. Examples of that include project Loon, which uses high altitude balloons to try to bring Internet to people, and we also invested in a drone company. But that also means that we have more tolerance for failure. Those are technologies that haven't been proven yet that we're trying to work on.
We also invest in what I would call business model innovation, as another attempt to bring Internet access to more people. And one example of that is Project Link, where we have built and operate a wholesale Metro fiber network in kampala, Uganda. And there it was more on the business side. We built fiber network that is open to all licensed mobile operators and ISPs in that market, in the hopes that we could lower the cost structure for the industry as a whole, so that each individual mobile operator and ISP doesn't have to invest in building fiber infrastructure themselves. And what we have seen is that has enabled some of the smaller ISPs and new entrants to enter that market and has added some competition to the market. But, again, it's still fairly early days. We only announced that project last November. So again we will have to see how successful it is.
On the other side, we also don't believe that there is any one silver bullet that is going to solve the Internet development issue, which is why we invest in a number of technologies and business models internally. But we also work with Governments, NGOs, and others in the industry to try to advance a number of these issues. So we have also funded organisations, particularly on capacity building, which Adiel has mentioned, and then also work on policy and regulatory issues, along with partners, such as with the Alliance for Affordable Internet, as policy issues tend to be one of the biggest areas that we then can see as a roadblock to some of these innovations.
So maybe I'll pause there as well.
>> DUNCAN MACINTOSH: Thanks very much, Jennifer.
Adiel, could we ask for your comments and remarks, please?
>> ADIEL APOGLAN: Yes, thank you.
I will have an opportunity to talk more about FIRE, but I want to kind of go back to a few of the points that were raised by the previous speaker and the question that Laurent has held raises our own public interest and investment. And I want to say that people from Developing Countries, and specifically Africa, everything is about public interest. Right? That's the way we see it. Why? Because in most of the Developing Countries, the structure for alternative funding for innovation doesn't just exist. Anything that you want to do, you want to take a risk. In terms of innovation, that will probably help people advance their own business or address a very social issue. There is no other avenue, even from local Government, to invest in those things.
So everything is for development, and development is good for everybody. So the way we see it is this kind of funding is to support anything that can help people develop. So it's good for everyone. Or start new business from new initiatives, a new idea, because capital does not exist in many African countries, either, because you help them and then they can run on that, too.
And, thirdly, areas such as health, such as agriculture and others which are fundamentally labeled as development areas, rural area investments, come on top of that. But, generally, when you see things from Developing Countries' perspectives, people are struggling at all the levels of the scale to get funding. And they are not struggling because they want to take the easier way. They are struggling just because there is no alternative for them.
So when you look at that, from that perspective, you find yourself in the need of helping them to at least kick start their idea, even if at the end it will be run like a normal business and get some other funding to do that. That's why I think the more we can work to have a private/public funding partnership in Developing Countries, more it will be easy, so that people can benefit from both sides to kind of live from the base environment before we have a very structured Government like other areas.
So specifically for FIRE, which is a forum that we have launched two years ago at AFRINIC, Forum for Internet Research and Education, we mainly wanted to focus the fund on what we call operational research. It's not just university research for just, I would say, intellectual research, but it's research that can then be translated into a concrete product that can enhance people's social environment and education as well. And for us education goes from use of Internet as a catalyst for economic development to how do you innovate and use your innovation to advance your social welfare. That means transforming your idea into business and making money out of it. How do you present the proposal to get funding? How do you implement best practices in running you business? That's why, for instance, we right now are also investing a lot on intellectual property where and when needed so that people understand that when you innovate, you just don't throw it out there and somebody else will pick up and other patterns, and then you have nothing. So at least you have the idea.
And we have also another challenge in our region, because in Africa we have Francophone and Anglophone speaking countries, and generally we have more, I would say, interest from English speaking countries because our operation mode is more in English. And we have also started trying to encourage more applications from French speaking countries. Because again in the process, in all the application processes, the cultures are different from an English speaking country and a French speaking country. So we have invested a lot of effort in building capacity in French speaking countries to help them understand how the process works, what are the different procedures that we use. The first year of FIRE we haven't received any application from a French-speaking country, for instance. But for the second one we have received a few, and a few of them have been -- are benefiting now from our grant.
We have been fortunate to the SIDA alliance and IDRC as supportive organisations to launch this fund. We have a few other donors locally as well to support this. But our real ambition is to be able to kind of help people who don't have real hand-holding mechanisms to help them access the funds. And those guys generally in many countries, the bureaucracy, the whole -- the complexity of the public funding process just discourages them. They don't have even the resources to spend on that. So they just give up. So what we are trying to do is to help them throughout the process, so that they understand how to do that, give them some tools which help them to produce acceptable proposals. And then the second phase would be to help them grow, because that will make them successful.
>> DUNCAN MACINTOSH: Thank you very much.
>> IHAB OSMAN: I'm going to focus my comments mostly on Africa. It's a region I have a lot of interest in and I think probably the region of the world that has the most challenges when it comes to raising funds.
Africa is the youngest continent on earth. When I say "youngest," of course, I mean population, where 60 percent of the population is under 20 years of age, and with very high population growth. If we look at the Africa of today, it's not the same as the Africa of 25, 30 years ago, where the story was always about donor funding and aid. While we can see now slowly the continent is shifting to a more traditional economical model, if you will, of more investment and development, commercial based development. However, there is no real heritage of modern entrepreneurship, if you will, in Africa. Because simply there is no Silicon Valley in Africa. There is no role models of, you know, entrepreneurs who started small companies and who managed to grow them into significant businesses.
So we're not just lacking funds, but we're also lacking those role models, those skills to help, whether it's social entrepreneurs who are looking to create businesses, or programmes and services for the -- to help the public good or to create more of a social value rather than private value.
So if we take Africa, from my point of view -- and I will add into what Adiel has said about this public/private partnership -- I think the business incubators model is probably something that is greatly needed all over Africa. Because it's not just about funding, but it's really about hand-holding, and it's about opening up the path for a new generation of entrepreneurs. It almost -- they are almost trail blazers, because there is really nobody in front of them who have done it before, whether, as I said, for the overall social good or for private interests.
I cannot stress how critical it is, this hand-holding or this incubation. And there are a lot of large corporations especially in the technology space, Google, Microsoft, a number of -- Oracle, IBM, a number of large technology companies have recognized that and are opening up different centres in different parts of Africa to help young entrepreneurs get these skills on top of the funds.
So I will say young entrepreneurs and young social entrepreneurs in Africa, in the beginning, need more traditional business skills, putting together business plans, putting together presentations, understanding the financials. All the basic skills that are required to run a successful enterprise, whether it's a private enterprise or a social enterprise, the funds come almost second. Because if you don't have the skills, you will squander whatever funds that are there.
So let's start with kind of the skills and add funds into it. Put the combination together. I think it will help a great deal. Thanks.
>> DUNCAN MACINTOSH: Thank you very much. Now, let's move from Africa to Latin America and Ernesto, please.
>> ERNESTO MAJO: Thank you. I will try to give another perspective particularly from an organisation who has been working and trying to assign the funds for the best projects in our region.
When we started doing that job it was in 2004, we followed it the traditional way. We made goals for projects, and we identified which projects in the region, like SIDA -- like IETA, sorry, and we tried to develop the best team of operators in our region to select the best ideas. The more innovative ideas, they were good ones.
And it was at the beginning. And after that, during these ten years we made a lot of improvements. For example, we created an award that was an idea to identify successful projects, not only ideas to develop but also ideas, succeeded ideas.
But the way that we used -- it was very similar. We made open goals for stories, for successful stories. We tried to develop clear information for the proponents. We tried to develop a clear form for receiving the ideas. And also we had a -- the Committee, evaluation committee, who as the most important work in that process, was selected.
And after that, when we were trying to do some promotion to give some visibility to the successful projects, in order to recognize their stories, their ideas, but also to encourage other people to follow.
We, as I said, we made some improvements. We created the award plus, which was an idea to give an opportunity to the awardees to receive some funds for developing their ideas, to develop and deploy, and also we created a set-up process. It was all projects funded by like FRIDA, but we gave the ability to that project to facilitate the deployment of the idea in other countries, in other regions, especially targeting some countries with more difficulties, like some countries like in Central America, Bolivia and Paraguay and others.
But in the whole process, when we tried to learn from the experience, we always would focus on a very good deliberation of the proposals to develop the clear information, to have very good forms, to facilitate the expression of the ideas, and especially to dissemination. And this year we have some other improvements, like the online training. I think it was a very successful experience. And I think that we will, in the future, we will be maintaining and increase.
But as sort of the distant view of work, we have more or less 100 projects selected. Some were funded projects by FRIDA and others was the work of others. But we have many, many thousands of proposals that fail. So I think that the focus of my speech is the proposals that fail.
So I think that we as a facilitator -- as an organisation which is in the middle of the donors' funds and the beneficiaries, we need to try to improve our capacity to bring -- to improve the experiences of the whole participants of the projects.
And I think that we need to think in what should we do with the failed proposals, with the people who fail trying to receive funds, but they -- but they made a very, very important effort trying to explain their ideas and their projects. So I think that I have some questions. I think that they should know why their proposals were not selected. And if the project idea was wrongly expressed or the reason was the technologies or the application of the technologies were not enough, or if they don't provide enough information, just three possibilities.
And the other question that we have to discuss is what do we do to help proponents work with their ideas and learn from the process, learn from the failure? And others is what kind of information do we provide to them in order to improve their proposals? And what kind of mechanism or tools we should develop, the members of the Seed Alliance, FRIDA, in particular, what kind of mechanisms do we need to develop in order to help the community of innovators and researchers to learn from the process, even though they don't receive money from us.
>> DUNCAN MACINTOSH: Thank you very much, Ernesto.
And I think you can see from that array of brief presentations we have a great depth of knowledge and experience on the panel this morning.
We are a little bit tight on time. But I think if anybody has a particularly burning question for the panel, we can take some questions. I see one. Yes. Gentleman from Bangladesh, please.
>> BANGLADESH: Thank you very much. My name is (inaudible). I am from IPSA. Especially I've been working since long for ICT for development failed to ensure accessible information for People with Disabilities and also ensure the access in the information communication technology.
As blind persons, you cannot give power or light in my eye, but the computer can change my life. You are seeing I'm here because of my computer.
So we can change the people's lives by using information communication technology for the visually impaired community. At the same time, that contribution goes to the low literate people or illiterate people who are saying to me they cannot read by seeing the printed materials.
So we found that the biggest challenge is the funding. Funding emphasis sometimes ignores the issues because of their -- maybe it is critical to understand how this technology can help the People with Disabilities and how it can change the people's lives.
Sometimes there is one logic that this is a small or minority group so why would you invest the money for this group? So this is one of the questions. And it was found that the development of ICT ignored the needs of the People with Disabilities. In that case we also see like the funders, they are not sometimes very much careful about the accessibility needs of People with Disabilities. So if you want inclusive funding design, like whenever you fund someone, some project, you must include the accessibility needs or you ask the question are all the people included in this? Are they inclusive? Or do they exclude someone? It's a UN Convention of Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This Article 9 says about the accessibility needs and also the Article 21, which also is about the access to information, like to information, and many other articles also ensure the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
So I think there is a legal mandate, also. Hopefully the funder will consider this.
>> DUNCAN MACINTOSH: Thank you very much.
Jens, Laurent, any quick response to these comments concerning support for all ICTs particularly in that area of disabilities?
>> LAURENT ELDER: Just to mention that it's a great idea. Just to mention when I was speaking about the area of disabilities, it's a perfect example in the area of public interest, and that's where public subsidies should be used.
Unfortunately, it made me think of this is another key challenge, and that is the challenge of the narrative in our space, in the space of Internet and ICTs and development. Because we know that the outside world doesn't always see the Internet or computers as being a necessary good or something that has a direct relationship to development needs. And, for example, the needs of People with Disabilities.
So if we get better at telling that story, at documenting that story, that link becomes easier to make. And then, you know, you have a better chance of getting funding for those kinds of issues.
>> DUNCAN MACINTOSH: Thanks very much.
I think I need to just watch the time, because we are supposed to finish at 10:30. Let me just check with my boss, Sylvia...
>> SYLVIA CADENA: I'm not your boss.
>> DUNCAN MACINTOSH: And ask, considering that we now move to the sessions on the roundtables and to provide enough time for the roundtable discussions.
>> SYLVIA CADENA: Yes, the idea is to -- and for the benefit of the transcript -- the idea is that we now break into three groups to discuss the regional challenges that Africa, Latin America and Asia Pacific regions might face. And then the speakers will get distributed hopefully in the three groups. And the idea is to get the voice of the people in the audience to participate in this conversation. We are trying to begin that framework or at least contribute to the framework of a more inclusive and flexible funding mechanism and raise issues not only for the donors, but for the private companies. So that's why we want to break for the smaller tables.
But if you have more questions, I guess you need to put them now so we can use the time for the roundtables.
>> DUNCAN MACINTOSH: All right. So let's, please. Let's take two more questions.
Please, introduce yourself.
+++ >> AUDIENCE: I'm Andrew Mack with AIM Google consulting in Washington, and I'm part of the team that is launching .NGO. So one of the key attributes of .NGO is it has crowd funding. For every NGO that is part of the community, there will be the ability to get donations right online.
And it made me think about the innovation space in the sense that it's this crowd funded source. If we could, rather than looking for a big fund, just mobilize small contributions, whether they be in the NGO sector or whether they be in the technology sector, it could prop up things like the +++ iHub in Nairobi, rather than the 35th application for the Google or UNDP grant. So I'm wondering about how to get the crowd funding, especially from north to south.
>> DUNCAN MACINTOSH: Jennifer, maybe I could put you on the spot and ask you your thoughts on that?
>> JENNIFER HAROON: I mean, certainly, crowd funding is seeing quite a bit of success in the U.S. for funding new ideas and innovative ideas. I honestly am not familiar with its use in funding Internet development. And I think -- I do think it's a good idea. I would also say, though, that we found that a lot of Internet development is very expensive. When you think about core Internet infrastructure, like fibre optic networks, which of course aren't the only answer, but it can be quite expensive. And so I could see a crowd funding used for some of the smaller community-based networks which we have seen around the world as having quite a bit of success. And there are a number of technology companies that have been developing less expensive technology for these community-based networks.
So I definitely think it's an interesting idea.
>> DUNCAN MACINTOSH: Thank you very much.
Joshua, the last question.
>> AUDIENCE: I'm +++ Joshua Hints from US International Development. And my question is about the risk of failure. How do you get around that? Of course we deal with that a lot. And we are trying to innovate in our processes as well.
And so I just wanted to know how you do that, so we can get some more information about what we should do.
>> DUNCAN MACINTOSH: Please.
>> LAURENT ELDER: Well, on that one we're actually really lucky, because we are a research funding organisation. So in a way we can -- and I'll be flippant here. But we can turn a failure into a lesson.
But that's important. I mean, I'm being flippant, but at the same time it's essential. Because the whole part of the whole process of innovation is one of learning. Trying to understand what works and what doesn't. So bringing in evaluation and research into the process is absolutely critical.
And if I may go back to the comment from the fora on crowd funding, you mentioned that I highlighted another key challenge in this space, and that's the fact that once there is a success, everybody funds it. People are tripping over each other to fund it. iHub is an example of that. It's extremely successful. Every donor and every single Internet corporation is trying to have a relationship with iHub to fund it. And that ends up potentially harming the next iHub. So to a certain extent, there is a need to -- even in the field, and I think sometimes crowd sourcing can play a role in that ,but sometimes it can actually make things worse. Because it tends to be less involved in the field. It tends to be one step removed from what is actually happening in the field and hence will fund the things that are well-known and well promoted.
>> DUNCAN MACINTOSH: Adiel?
>> ADIEL APOGLAN: Yes, I would say two things. The first is about the risk and the failure in funding development projects.
I think it's about taking the risk to go into an area which has never been explored, which doesn't have any, you know, background. And invest in initiative and learn something from it. I think development funding is a funding that should be based on the ability to fail not only in the area of research but in the area of actually doing things. Because that's how you both -- people know I -- that's how you build, as well people who are courageous enough to take the risk themselves to come up with their new idea and put it on the table. That's the first thing.
The second thing is when we talk about Internet development, several times in meetings like this we talk about Internet development in Developing Countries. For me, it's not only about the infrastructure of the development. And we tend to always focus on access and infrastructural development. For me, Internet is a whole. And more importantly, what people need to understand is that the Internet is not just getting access to the Internet and consume applications and content that are not really directly relevant to them. But it's how can they use the Internet to innovate based on local needs, on local interests? Helping people to produce local content. How do they help people in rural areas to scale up their farm? Small things like that for me, what will make the Internet more relevant. Because as soon as those applications are visible, investment in infrastructure will come more easily from people who, as you say, people want to come and invest.
But first how can we build the usage ecosystem locally that will then make an infrastructure investment more useful? So we have to take the Internet development investment approach differently, separating the infrastructure investment from the user, the innovation of the service on the Internet. That's what people really need.
>> DUNCAN MACINTOSH: Thank you. And the last word for this question, Jens, please.
>> JENS KARBERG: My response is both going towards the crowd funding and also the risk part. I think one way how we are trying to crowd fund is to do it with our money, to find partners that are willing to put money into the same areas we are doing. And usually that also has been with other donors, but also more and more with private sectors. And it's -- I wouldn't say it's a big part of what we're doing, but it's concerning us more and more in that sense.
And another thing -- I think with the risk, it's one of the highest discussion areas for working in this area. And so far we don't really have a good solution for it. I think what it takes is strong leadership in an organisation like ours, where we have leaders that says to do this work -- and it's not just technology. It's development itself, working in areas you don't really know the solution. And the solution is not easily grasped.
So I think it also boils down a lot to what you said, Laurent, is to learn from failures. And if we as an organisation, Governmental organisation, could show that learning, I think we also could have a case for doing more failures in the future.
>> DUNCAN MACINTOSH: Thank you very much. I think at this point I've been advised by my bosses that we will not be breaking up into groups. Noting the time, we agree that there is a good discussion going on. Everybody has had good questions. So I'd like to thank the panel. Please don't move from where you are, get ready for more questions, and I'd like to turn it over to my fellow Moderator, Gaelle Fall, from AFRINIC. I just thank the panel and hand it over. And thank you very much.
>> GAELLE FALL: Thank you very much, Duncan. Yes, we have a very good momentum going on and we don't want to break that momentum. Because to go back into another one, it will take time. For the sake of time, we will keep the discussions going. We welcome everyone to please chip in. Give your experiences, what you've been going through, your challenges, what have been your successes. And there are also a few questions maybe to keep in mind, and I'll just read them through real quickly. And of course the panel is definitely welcome to chip in as well, to contribute.
So one of the first questions is: How do you define successful innovation? And how would you measure it? Also, how do you assess, in other words, how do you give value to the intangible nature of innovation activities? What are the financing opportunities available in your region?
And one last question is: What do you think are the main obstacles to financing the ICT sectors?
So please, anyone, you are welcome to tackle any of these questions or even to share your experience.
>> MALAYSIA: I'm different here, because I'm in the area of rights. So it's like Freedom of Expression, human rights and so on. And one of the problems that we face in countries where this is a problem is that there are a lot of restrictions to actually help or prevent organisations in this space. So you can't get funding, for example, because you can't register yourself as a Civil Society organisation. If you do get registration, or support, you could have your funds frozen.
Initially, getting help from other donors can also be problematic. So for Malaysia last year, we had a strong kind of public condemnation of foreign donors helping rights organisations.
So one suggestion that I would have -- but I'm not sure if this is a solution, but if other people have other better solutions from other regions, it would be good. -- is that you might need to actually have external organisations that are able to fund from outside and manage the -- and give it to the groups that are in need. Because these groups in these countries may not be able to access these funds. And a good example is actually, when I actually asked for the grant, I really did not know even if we were successful, where we would actually get the funds put into to access. So I have to shop around Civil Society organisations, who themselves have troubles with getting funds from outside to be able to host us.
So I just put it to the panel and everybody else in countries where this is a problem, what are the possible solutions, other than the ones that I just suggested?
>> GAELLE FALL: Thank you very much. I think that's a very good point that you raise, knowing that a lot of these innovations and a lot of the funding challenges can also be subject to political, to the geopolitical aspects of our world.
So does anyone else want to chip in to this? Sylvia?
>> SYLVIA CADENA: Just one comment on what Gaelle mentioned of the difficulties to get fundings in the Asia Pacific. One, the crowd funding, some countries are blacklisted to receive payments from PayPal. So any developers who want to stay in the Pacific islands and work in the Pacific islands cannot get paid for the work that they want to do because there are mechanisms that do not allow those funds to be received into their bank accounts. That's one.
And the second one is a lot of restrictions, as Gaelle mentioned, from Governments, to be able to channel funds from overseas to support small organisations. Just last year we had an experience with an Indian organisation that they had to process something called the FCRA clearance to be able to receive funding. And it took a year to be able to get that seal on the paper. And probably other donors will say okay, you have 90 days to process your clearance, and if you don't, we take the money out. Fortunately, with this support from SIDA and IDRC, the Seed Alliance has more flexibility to say we wait. And we waited the whole year and we supported this organisation to get through that process.
But it's amazing the strength that antiterrorism laws is having and freedom of expression laws is impacting, and actually getting access to funding.
So I guess that is also oration to the board for the steering.
>> GAELLE FALL: Thank you very much, Sylvia. Goodness. Okay.
All right. Ihab, if you don't mind, I did see a hand raised in this section, if anyone -- on my right side.
Yes? Okay. If you can go ahead and I'll give you the floor, Ihab. Thank you.
>> AUDIENCE: Mohammed Mustafa, from (inaudible) Organization in India. We are facing the same problem, because we have the foreign Contribution Regulation Act. That's very high level. We are registered in India. And we will not be able to get funds internationally. Crowd funding will not be -- definitely that's not a source for us. And also if any International organisation wanted to fund to us, that is not possible. We have to source our funding locally.
So if over a period like three or four years we show our credibility and our work and transparency to the Government, probably after three or four years we might get a foreign contribution, access to that.
So I would, you know, see this as an International issue and this has to be addressed Internationally. So probably end of this session maybe we can have a small work group can form and, you know, to lobby the Government, to lobby the lawmakers. Because as she said, terrorism and other kinds of issues, which is funding Internationally, that's where the Government is putting their measures to stop this. But somehow we have to differentiate it. I think International intervention in this regard, this is what we are talking about.
And also, if you go to the Asia as a whole, we have a lot of sources. I mean, India, there is 2 or 2.5 percent of the companies start to be paid. But big organisations, I don't want to mention the name, they create their own NGOs to fund their CSO. So it's like even though it's a couple of millions of dollars to be funded, but that goes into their own charity or their own -- so that also is to be addressed at a global perspective.
Thank you very much.
>> GAELLE FALL: Thank you very much for your contribution. Ihab, you wanted to say something?
>> IHAB OSMAN: Yes. I wanted to add to two points. A point what Sylvia and I think the guy from Malaysia talked about, restrictions. Some of the more repressive Governments or regimes have these tight controls on Civil Society. And a lot of them, and I'm thinking of one particular country I'm very familiar with, the law actually pretty much gives the Government pretty much a free hand to do with that Civil Society whatever they see fit. So if a Civil Society to be considered as not friendly to the Government, they could step in and pretty much shut it down very easily. So what I have seen people do, increasingly, and it's actually starting to be accepted by some of the funding agencies, is to set up actual corporations, a business. Because you can have a far more control over a private enterprise. However, in the bylaws of that business and everything, it's basically a non-for-profit business. And if you have that credibility, then I am increasingly seeing that, because this is one way to keep it a little bit away from the hands of these repressive Governments and regimes, because in most countries around the world there is still quite a bit of protections for private enterprise or at least much higher level of protection than a Civil Society.
So this is one area increasingly used in a number of places in Africa and elsewhere to actually set it up from a legal point of view as a private enterprise.
The other point is crowd funding. Crowd funding I think is greatly undertapped in places like Africa and Latin America and so on. Crowd funding platforms are global. The fact is it started in the US or in more developed markets doesn't mean it's only focused on those markets. And I think a lot of young entrepreneurs in other parts of the world simply have just not tried it. But it works.
Kickstarter, there are hundreds and hundreds of successful stories of people raising and not -- you know, very large amounts in the U.S. or Europe context, but it's a huge amount in an Africa context. When you're looking to raise $20,000, $30,000, $40,000, that might take you a couple days in Kickstarter to raise it. And you'll be surprised. If you have a compelling story and you present your story well with all the supporting arguments and presentations, you will get your at least seed money. That will then put you in a stage where you're able to go after the SIDAs and other organisations of the world for rounds two and three. But I think crowd funding, it's something that people should take a very good look at.
>> GAELLE FALL: Thank you very much, Ihab.
If you don't mind, I would like to give the floor maybe to -- I would like to hear from our counterparts in Africa. And also our counterparts from Latin America. We would like to hear your experiences and maybe your challenges to maybe get this conversation going a little bit more, before we run out of time.
I have two gentlemen that raised their hands. Sir?
>> AUDIENCE: My name is Sulliman Ombrava. And I work for the Media Foundation for West Africa. We are based in Ghana.
I think in terms of experience, I would share the challenges that we have. I think access to funding is a difficulty for almost every Civil Society organisation. But I think sometimes it is quite peculiar for African organisations particularly when it comes to work around ICT development and Internet freedom. And our organisation works on Freedom of Expression. This is an organisation that has for the past 10 to 15 years been a traditional free expression organisation. And of course recognizing the importance of the Internet, a lot of organisations like us are now going into the free expression online and advocacy and so on and so forth.
But what I think is happening is is that in terms of access to funding, I would say quite substantial amounts are still going to organisations based in the west. And of course what happens is that you have partnerships coming down. The challenge with that is the issue of the battle in Africa about whether human rights is universal, or culture and context should define what human rights should be. And so sometimes when you have western organisations leading the campaign for Internet freedom and Internet rights in Africa, the debate will -- this is again a neocolonialism perspective or a western agenda coming in, and that then becomes difficult for those of us on the ground to actually pursue the results that we want.
The other thing is about short-term funding. Usually when you get a fund, it's one year. And it's for this project. Now, the bottleneck in Africa is around policy, regulation, access, and the issues of human rights. And these are long-term things to pursue. So if you have one year to influence policy and legislation in Liberia on Internet freedom, really you can't go anywhere.
And I think that these are the issues that I would want to put on the floor for consideration, possibilities of long-term funding. Really empowering grass-roots organisations in Africa to lead the campaign, rather than becoming subsidiaries and partners to western organisations to lead campaigns in Africa.
>> GAELLE FALL: Thank you very much. That is a very compelling contribution that you just made.
>> AUDIENCE: Thank you. H. Bashir from Sudan, currently working abroad.
I think, first of all, the barriers of entry to entrepreneurs has really almost vanished. So a young entrepreneur or innovator in Africa or Kenya, are there barriers? There's almost no barriers now in terms of reaching out to the global marketplace.
Kenya is a good example to foster that. There is good innovation happening in the mobile world in the mobile application business coming from Kenya. So you need to look at it from the collaboration. There is a part that needs to be done locally and the institutions in Africa need to step in an try to do that. The African Union Commission and others, they have a political challenge as well. Some of the Governments are not easy to work with. It will take time, but we need also to start that work.
People like funders let's say from the northern half, they need also to stress the importance of ensuring that from their sides there is also relaxed processes and procedures that enable grassroots to benefit from their projects. If that doesn't happen, unfortunately, those young entrepreneurs will be facing challenges both internally and externally. It's a difficult position, really.
>> GAELLE: Thank you very much. Unfortunately, we are running out of time. We will give the floor for just two more comments. We have less than ten minutes left. So I will give the floor to the gentleman on the right. And then I'll give the comment to this gentleman right in front of me that is raising his hand from Bangladesh, I believe. Yes. You will have the last question. Thank you.
>> AUDIENCE: (Speaking nonEnglish)
>> GAELLE FALL: Hi. I will do my best. He is asking me to translate in English.
>> AUDIENCE: The way we conceive successful innovation is a new way of doing something and doing it in the most simplest way and also accessible to the majority of the population. And that also reduces the costs considerably. The problems that we face particularly when it comes to funding in the Ivory Coast, my country, there are no structures that are available to finance young entrepreneurs. And the Government tried to put together a fund for -- a national fund for youth, but the youth, unfortunately, is not readily armed to be able to create these enterprises. The Government should have prepared the youth to be able to undertake these enterprises. So it's basically a game of ping-pong that is going on. The Government is asking the youth to do these enterprises, but the youth is also asking for the capacity to do so. So one of the solutions that we are giving is to prepare the youth to give the capacity, reinforce the capacity to the youth.
And I join myself to Ihab's comments that it's not just about funding, but it's about having the capacity to be able to manage these funds. When you receive these funds and you're not prepared to be able to use them adequately, a lot of times these young people fail. So this was what I cared to share with the group.
Thank you very much.
>> GAELLE FALL: Our colleague from Bangladesh.
>> BANGLADESH: Thank you very much for giving me the floor. I think this is the biggest opportunity for the ICT organisation in Bangladesh. Because the Government is very much supportive to the ICT for development. You'll be very glad to know that we are closely working with the Government, with the Prime Minister office. There is a section called access to information programme, A to I. So they are the technical lead supporting all the ministry about the ICT issues.
So there is opportunity, I think, for the organisations who are funding organisations and others to work closely with the Government. There is almost 200 businesses provided by the Government to the citizens. There is almost 24,000 websites developing by the Government. And there are many organisations developing content and other accessibility issues with the collaboration of the Government. And Government is welcoming all the partners and developing agencies and funders to work together to achieve the digital Bangladesh. This is the goal of Government by the 2021. They would like to achieve Bangladesh as a digital Bangladesh. They want everything to be digitalized and they reach out through the community radio and et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So this is the biggest opportunity for the ICT community to come and work in Bangladesh.
>> GAELLE FALL: Thank you very much. We are out of time, unfortunately. This has been a very interesting roundtable, a very interesting conversation. And I think we want to encourage that these conversations keep going. The challenges are still going to be present after we leave this room. So what can we do to be able to alleviate these challenges? If we can just keep these conversations going.
I want to take the time to thank each of our panelists. Ernesto, thank you very much. Jens, thank you. Our colleague from IDRC, we want to thank you as well. Jennifer from Google, thank you. Adiel from AFRINIC and Ihab as well. Thank you very much.
And I thank each and every one of you. Sylvia, our boss ...
I give you the floor to conclude.
>> SYLVIA CADENA: Can I have that in writing?
I don't have anything.
>> GAELLE FALL: Thank you. And Duncan, my counterpart and colleague Duncan from APNIC, thank you very much for sharing this collaboration with me. Thank you very much and enjoy the rest of IGF.
One more thing.
>> SYLVIA CADENA: I want to mention that we have the awards ceremony today at lunch break. So instead of joining the queue to look for your food, please come join us. It's going to be in the Halash Hall. You can follow the red signs in different places, so you can follow the red signs and find the Seed Alliance awards ceremonies. We have the winners from FIRE, FRIA and (inaudible) here and you are welcome to join us and get to know those wonderful people. Thank you very much.
(End of session, 10:33)
The preceeding is the roughly edited output of the realtime captioning taken during the IGF 2014 Istanbul, Turkey, meetings. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the session, but should not be treated as an authoritative regard. The preceding is roughly edited.