Bridging
the digital divide

Meeting Achievers Ghana

In October 2016 Close the Gap’s project manager, Aurély Luzolele, spent 2 intensive and very fruitful weeks in Ghana with the aim to meet several representatives of local organisations that promote a positive change in education, entrepreneurship and gender equality in the country. As mentioned a couple of months ago, Aurély had the incredible chance to meet with The Savana Signature’s team and Africa ICT Right’s team, and to visit some schools with ICT labs. We could clearly witness the impact of ICT in children lives.

This mission to Ghana was also the opportunity to visit the Achievers Ghana, a nonprofit, nonpolitical, nonreligious organisation that aims to educate girls in local slums.

The idea of creating Achievers Ghana belongs to Amina Ismail Dary, a resident of the Accra slum of Nima. Despite being a brilliant student, Amina was forced into marriage at the age of 12. Her story immediately became an inspiration to many other girls. In 2011, she co-founded the Achievers Ghana with a goal to prevent similar situations and let other young girls achieve their educational goals regardless of social restraints. Due to the great success and recognition of the organization’s goals and activities, in 2012 Anima was nominated for the Children’s Peace Prize. Amina’s inspirational story has already attracted more than 350 girls 7 – 16 years old.

achievers Ghana


The Digitruck, finalist for the Digital 4 Development Prize (iStandout category)

On November 30th 2016 Close the Gap was honoured to participate to the 2016 edition of the Innovation Fair and the Digital for Development (D4D) awards which took place at the African Museum in Tervuren, Belgium.

The day started with the Innovation Fair, where different initiatives had the chance to display information material, and inform any interested guest about Close the Gap’s activities and the role of its partners. Robert Mafie, Director of Affordable Computers and Technology for Tanzania (ACTT), the Tanzania-based project aimed at provide access to ICT to schools, traveled to Brussels for this event. This was also the occasion for Close the Gap to have a face to face update on ACTT activities. Our colleague Inge Knapen, Close the Gap’s Operations Director had the honour to give a keynote on Sustainable ICT4 Development at the beginning of the Innovation Fair, and share Close the Gap’s mission to bridge the digital divide.

In the afternoon, the Award Ceremony took place in the presence of the Minister of Development Cooperation and Digital Agenda, Mr. Alexander De Croo. The D4D Prize rewards outstanding initiatives that use digitalization and new technologies as a lever for development towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Out of the 3 categories for nominations – iStartUP (innovative ideas), iStandOut (success story) and iChoose (the public award) – The Digitruck was nominated in the category  iStandout for its innovative way of providing access ICT to remote locations off the grid. Click here to learn more about the Digitruck.


Close the Gap meets with Achievers Ghana

In October 2016 Close the Gap’s project manager, Aurély Luzolele, spent 2 intensive and very fruitful weeks in Ghana with the aim to meet several representatives of local organisations that promote a positive change in education, entrepreneurship and gender equality in the country. Aurély had the incredible chance to meet with the teams of Savana Signature and Africa ICT Right, and to visit some schools with ICT labs supported by Close the Gap. She could clearly witness the impact of ICT in children lives.

This mission to Ghana was also the opportunity to visit the Achievers Ghana, a nonprofit, nonpolitical, nonreligious organisation that aims to educate girls in local slums.

The idea of creating Achievers Ghana belongs to Amina Ismail Dary, a resident of the Accra slum of Nima. Despite being a brilliant student, Amina was forced into marriage at the age of 12. Her story became an inspiration to many other girls. In 2011, she co-founded the Achievers Ghana with a goal to prevent similar situations and let other young girls achieve their educational goals regardless of social restraints. Due to the great success and recognition of the organization’s goals and activities, in 2012 Anima was nominated for the Children’s Peace Prize. Amina’s inspirational story has already attracted more than 350 girls between the ages of 7 – 16 years.

achievers Ghana


Deloitte empowers local community together with Quirky 30.

CSI Western Cape in collaboration with Deloitte Belgium and Close the Gap hosted a wonderful week of skill development for the kids and young adults from Quirky 30, formerly Brothers for All. Quirky 30 is non-profit organisation based in the township of Langa, Cape Town, South Africa. The main focus of the organisation is empowering offenders, ex-offenders, inmates and vulnerable youth by giving them technology skills, and specifically in coding.

From 14 November 2016 to 17 November, kids and young adults participated in many activities. On the 14th, 20 young adults attended a workshop related to Design Thinking, and designed a wallet!

The second day of the programme was dedicated to creating and developing entrepreneurial ideas, based on community social issues. On this occasion Mr. Lance Brown, tax consultant at Deloitte and speaker at TEDxTabeMountain, was present and provided inspiration to the kids, through his “Creating Opportunities” philosophy.

The 3rd day took place at Deloitte Digital where kids had the chance to learn more about drones, 3D printers and even a lie detector test, and of course play with them! During that day, Emma from Deloitte Belgium also provided an inspirational speech about the power of social media, and how to use the different online channels to promote and connect with customers. As a practical example, Emma and the young adults created a social media plan for a brand new line of wallet.

The fourth and last day of this “week of skill development” took place at the V&A Waterfront. The digitruck was moved to this hotspot in order to showcase this exciting project. . Some of the youngsters from Quirky 30 were present to hand over brochures and explain their coding sessions inside this digitruck. One of the students, Fatima (see photo seated in the middle), was offered a job interview for a tech company in the neighborhood. She walked away with an internship!


Close the Gap signs the Belgian SDG Charter

Last year, the United Nations approved the very ambitious Sustainable Development Goals such as ending poverty in all its forms everywhere, ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all, achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls amongst others, to be achieved by 2030.

Last month, more than 80 companies, civil society organisations and representatives of the public sector signed the Belgian SDG Charter for International Development. The charter was an initiative of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo. Close the Gap’s strategic partner The Shift helped draft the charter and is currently managing the ongoing process. In the Charter, and for the first time, the important role of the private sector in international development is explicitly recognized in the SDGs.

The Belgian SDG Charter is intended to increase awareness of the ambitious SDG agenda within the private sector in Belgium. The fact that, today, more than 50 companies have already signed the charter is an important signal.

Alexander De Croo

On October 18th , Close the Gap, together with over 80 Belgian companies, partners from civil society and the public sector, signed the SDG Belgian Charter which was praised by Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary General and Jim Yong Kim the World Bank President in a video message at this event.

The Belgian SDG Charter for International Development outlines the engagement of the private sector, civil society and the public sector in Belgium based on the SDGs. In the months and years to come, concrete initiatives will be set up, based on the charter, between the authorities, the private sector and civil society organisations. The focus will be on health, renewable energy, digitization, agriculture & food, and sustainable entrepreneurship.

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Ms. Inge Knapen (Operation Director, Close the Gap) with Mr. Alexander De Croo (Minister of Development Cooperation, Digital Agenda, Telecom and Postal Services)

 

Close the Gap is focusing its efforts towards achieving the SDGs through ICT4D, since this approach plays a pivotal role in achieving a world of prosperity, equality, freedom, dignity and peace, as outlined by the SDGs. Close the Gap and its stakeholders feel that education is one of the most powerful instruments for reducing poverty and inequality, laying the foundations for sustained economic growth, and ICT for Education can be a powerful tool in support of achieving the SDGs.


We are hiring!

Do you believe in Close the Gap’s mission? Would you like to contribute bridging the digital divide? Are you an organised person that is passionate about social entrepreneurship? Are you a good communicator and team player? Are you detail oriented, accurate and you are fluent in Dutch, French and English? Then we have the perfect job for you! Apply for the Project Assistant position at Close the Gap!

Click here to download the full job description


Close the Gap on mission in Ghana

At the beginning of October, Close the Gap’s Project Manager, Aurély Luzolele travelled 10 days to Ghana to visit different projects and organisations, which mission is to provide access to ICT in schools. One of the highlights of this mission was the visit to Close the Gap’s service partners, Savana Signatures (SavSign) and Africa ICT Right. Savana Signatures aims to equip youth, women and vulnerable groups with ICT skills for their personal and professional development through the innovative use of ICT. SavSign promotes a society where relevant information, knowledge and skills for development are enhanced by equal access to and use of ICT. Africa ICT Right was established in roder to use ICT tools to address critical national problems pertaining to the education, gender and health in Ghana. The Savana Signature’s team and Africa ICT Right’s team accompanied Aurély to visit a school and a computer center in Tamale:

  • St John’s of the Cross School complex – Primary school with Savana Signatures

This primary school, located in Tamale, Ghana has received computers from one of Close the Gap’s Strategic Partner, Essent. Thanks to the opportunity to access those computers, children at an early age can already start playing with the mouse and identify the keys on the keyboard to familiarize themselves with the working of computers. The schools offers two hours IT lessons twice a week.

  • Darul Hadis Junior High School – GTech Center with Africa ICT Right

The high school uses a computer lab located in Tamale that consists of 14 computers donated by different parties and run by Africa ICT Right. Each class counts with more than 45 pupils. Despite the limited number of computers per student, the Center still manages to do a great job and offers basic ICT training to its pupils, including coding courses.

Aurély visited many schools that received computer assets though Close the Gap. Our mission has a real impact in children that live in developing countries. Access to ICT is  not only key to have access to information and become more knowledgeable, but also to learn and gain IT skills that will allow the young adults to find the job they dream of. If you wish to donate you used IT assets, contact us any time.


Changing the role of philanthropy in Europe

The King Baudouin Foundation United States (KBFUS) is an American public charity associated with the Brussels-based King Baudouin Foundation (KBF), and a leading foundation in Europe named after Belgium’s late head of state. In 2015 KBFUS opened 48 new funds for donors and NGOs.

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On September 18th, 2016 KBFUS organized a 4 days’ workshop in Brussels with the aim to change the role of philanthropy in Europe. The program builds on KBFUS’ experience in facilitating thoughtful, effective giving to Europe and Africa. KBFUS enables U.S.-based donors to support their favourite causes and organisations overseas providing European and African NGOs with cost-effective solutions to raise funds in the US. Meanwhile, KBFUS’ educational programs present unique learning opportunities in the fields of fundraising and philanthropy.

During the 4 days, corporate grant makers met several times with the European Commission, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Europe, the European Foundation Centre (EFC), the European Venture Philanthropy Association, and the European Policy Centre (EPC) to discuss the main objectives of how philanthropy could be integrated in European realities in the most efficient way and to the maximum extent.

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During the 3rd day of the program, our colleague Inge Knapen, Close the Gap’s Operational Director participated in the Lunch discussion with Arrow’s CSR Global Director Joe Verrengia. The lively conversation touched Community involvement in Europe and how the US-based financial contributions could encourage the development of innovative projects, creating more opportunities for employees and fostering other collaborative activities.

We were delighted to attend this workshop, especially because it was the opportunity to share best practices for employee engagement.


Timeless Women of Wonder, a great project supported by Close the Gap

Timeless Women of Wonder Foundation (TWOW) is a subsidiary of Timeless Dynamic Services Ltd, responsible for developing, designing and implementing initiatives that will include African women in the social and economic transformation of Africa, and empower them to optimize their potential in the process.

The platform brings together women from all over Africa and from all sectors to collaborate in the dialogue and development of solutions that will harness women’s potential and contribute to the social and economic transformation of their communities, nation and continent.

In November 2015 TWOW teamed up with the National Construction Authority, a Kenyan Government body, and other development partners to organise a one week workshop in Nairobi with 400 women for the opportunity to learn skills in carpentry, roofing and other male-dominated jobs.

A lot of women don’t take up opportunities in construction, oil and energy gas, technologies because it’s mostly seen as male dominated and hard. But these are the sectors where opportunities are great for wealth creation and job creation. And women are shy because they think they cannot do it.” Nyakan June Munyeki, CEO & Founder of TWOW

In addition, TWOW has developed a module to train the women on design and recycle so that they can start to build items that are accessories and artistic for them to sell, and build their start up enterprise. TWOW is working with national government to enable them access funds to start businesses.

Every year, TWOW organizes its annual conference, were women engage in dialogue on various issues pertinent to Africa’s development and propose solutions that will scale impacts throughout Africa and enable women’s engagement and empowerment in the process of development.

“One of our key platforms for transforming Africa through women is by having an annual conference called Timeless Women Conference  in Nairobi. Over the next coming years it could take place in other parts of Africa. It’s a global platform, original and continental, that draws leaders from all over.”

Close the Gap has been a great supporter of the TWOW project and truly admires the goals and aspirations set in its agenda. For this reason we are happy to be able to provide TWOW with more computers, so that every woman participant of the program can have easier access to registration to the program and follow the suggested trainings. Moreover, we strongly believe that the documented proof of the growing interest of the program by women around the continent will facilitate new funding of the project and, as a result, will give more opportunities for women to grow professionally, socially and increase economic sustainability chances in their regions.


Close the Gap at Electronic Goes Green Conference, co-presenting with Arrow Electronics

From September 7-9 2016 the fifth Electronics Goes Green Conference took place in Berlin. Close the Gap was part of the 400 conference delegate participating. Our colleague Inge Knapen, Close the Gap’s Operations Director, had the chance to co-present a session with our longtime partner Arrow Electronics. For the occasion, Scott Venhaus presenting “Arrow Value Recovery and Close the Gap partner to Close the Loop for Electronics” during the session dedicated to Social Responsibility.

Earlier this year, Close the Gap and Arrow Electronics joint forces to produce an abstract, explaining the collaboration between us, and how this could close the loop, in a circular economy. The abstract got selected to be presented during the “Social Responsibility” session. Inge and Scott had the chance to explain to the audience how we are doing everything we can to close the material loops including collecting, repairing, refurbishing, parts harvesting, extensive re-use, upcycling, and ultimately responsibly recycling returning everything possible to the manufacturing stream.