Bridging
the digital divide

Inge Knapen speaks at the VUB Social Entrepreneurship Fair

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Last November, Close the Gap’s Operations Director Inge Knapen was guest speaker at the VUB Social Entrepreneurship Fair, organised by the VUB Chair for Social Entrepreneurship.

The goal of the night was to share ideas on how to build a sustainable future. At this event and with the help of examplesInge Knapen shared how Close the Gap aims to bridge the digital divide between developed and developing countries by supporting local projects and young African entrepreneurs.

Background:

Close the Gap, together with Solvay Business School (VUB), Wolters Kluwer Belgium and Euroclear, founded the VUB Chair for Social Entrepreneurship in 2015. This chair provides support for research on social entrepreneurship. The organisation attempts to answer questions such as ‘how can innovation be better supported by society?’ and ‘which business models work for social entrepreneurs?’ among others. The chair stresses the importance of combiningscientific research and the creation of a platform that helps social entrepreneurs. The platform provides access to a relevant network for these entrepreneurs, as well as help them with advice, relevant networking events among social entrepreneurs, corporations and the academic world. Prof. Dr. Nikolay Dentchy is the titular of the project.


Bike to Close the Gap 2018 edition

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This year, Close the Gap’s annual bicycle event will take place on 11th June. This 8th edition is slightly different, as it will be organized at the racing circuit of Zolder, instead of at the Patersberg.

Even though the location is different, the purpose of this sporting event remains the same: raising funds to provide access to ICT to disadvantaged children and young adults in developing countries and in Europe. Every participant will join in achieving this common goal by cycling laps on the famous circuit.

For more information, visit the Bike to Close the Gap Facebook page or the website.


Update second Leap2 Innovation Challenge: Crowdfunding Campaign

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The second Leap2 Innovation Challenge is steadily progressing. This stage is devoted to the Crowdfunding campaign, which was launched on January 15th and will continue until February 23rd. During this online campaign to raise funds, all 11 innovation projects try to meet target amounts to ultimately reach their full desired goal amount. The Leap2 organization continuously encourages the teams to keep on track by giving weekly tips and tricks on how to keep the momentum of their campaign alive.

Crowdfunding allows innovation teams to test their ideas and solutions on the market. Once they meet their crowdfunding goals, they will receive matching funding from Close the Gap.

The Crowdfunding period will end with a pitch day on February 23rd, where teams will have the final opportunity to give their campaign a boost. Through crowdfunding and coaching, the Kenyan entrepreneurs expand their network and reach potential investors for their digital solutions for societal issues.

 

For more information and an update on selected  innovations, visit www.leap-2.com

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Used computers: a window of opportunity

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Source: Beltug, Nov 2017

Beltug, the largest Belgian association of digital technology leaders, recently issued a survey in order to shed light on the practices of Belgian organizations regarding the handling of their out-of-date computers.

The survey found that only one in four Belgian corporations donates their old computers to NGOs like Close the Gap. Beltug understands the importance of improving digital knowledge across the world and wants to stimulate and encourage Belgian companies to donate their aged IT material to professional organizations like Close the Gap, who aim to bridge the digital divide.

Read here the joint press release (in Dutch) The press release is also available in French.

Several articles also appeared: read the Dutch article here, and the French version here (Datanews), one from informaticien.be in French, one from Solutions Magazine (also in French), one from computable.be (in Dutch), and also one from milieumagazine.be (in Dutch).

Interested in donating your used ICT material?  Find out here how.


Inge Knapen engages with top tech Kenyan entrepreneurs during “Women Power in Tech” event

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On Dec 16, 2017, about 15 women in tech from Nairobi private sector engaged with Berber Kruimel from Rabobank and Inge Knapen from Close the Gap to exchange ideas, experiences and network.   This “Women Power in Tech” event was co-hosted by Timeless Women of Wonder (TWOW).

Inge Knapen reports:  “Women empowerment was a central theme and we all became each other’s cheerleader. We have now created a WhatsApp group and already ideas and networks are being exchanged!  

Nyakan Munyeki who is the founder of TWOW, was our host and facilitator. She brought all these amazing women together in the heart of Nairobi to build up the TWOW network and create international mentors. It’s all about empowering each other as women and create a sense of community together. Together we stand strong. The experience was invigorating and very inspiring to exchange stories on lives and work that made us realise we are all connected somehow.

TWOW is working through its 7 pillars to implement key initiatives responsible for scaling social and economic impacts for Africa. The pillars are: leadership, empowerment, enterprise, social communities, media interaction, building bridges and celebration and recognition.  In June they are launching another mentor and leadership program and they continue to break through the gender barrier with their activities.”

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Close the Gap has been a long-standing partner of TWOW.  Read previous article.


The most equipped computer lab serving the blind community in East Africa, enabled by Close the Gap

 

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The Kenya Society for the Blind (KSB) is a non-profit organization based in Kenya.  Its mission is to enhance the prevention of blindness, increase access to services and opportunities for visually impaired persons.
Through the Flemish university cooperation for development, VLIR UOS, which supports partnerships between universities in Flanders and in the South, KSB received a total of 75 desktops.

With this donation, KSB fully revamped their Centre for Adaptive Technology (CAT) with 25 computers.

The CAT was started in 1999 in response to the need to train visually impaired in computer skills. Learners usually receive an individualized training to access and transmit information electronically. Learners use assistive technology softwares (Job Access with Speech (JAWs) and Magic) that converts computer text into audio for the blind and into large print for those who have low vision. Learners are then trained in: Introduction to Windows XP, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, MS PowerPoint Internet & Email. Since 2006, KSB has trained over 540 persons with visual impairment mostly from four schools across Kenya.

KSB did extra work on electrification and cabling of their CAT centre. KSB now claims, their CAT class is the most equipped computer lab serving the blind community in East Africa.

To make these computers functional, they have equipped the computers with:

  1. Licenses of screen reader (JAWS) for totally blind
  2. Licenses of screen magnifying software (Magic) for the low vision
  3. Licenses of TypeAbility

These licenses were donated by Free Scientific, their local partner ITAC Consulting.

With the remaining computers, KSB also replaced their old assets used by staff (donated many years ago by Close the Gap). Thanks to this initiative, KSB received licenses from Microsoft.  To help KSB in its financial management system, KSB also upgraded its information system from Navasion 7 to the most current Navasion 18. This was not possible with the old computers.

KSB will soon launch another CAT to provide additional adaptive computer classes to visually empaired.


 


Close the Gap in Datanews

Updated article in Knack’s Belgian Datanews (in Dutch) explaining Close the Gap’s evolving strategy from “ICT device supplier to entreneurship supporter” in Africa.

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Close the Gap on “De Warmste Week”: €6000 collected!

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22/12: We just learned that thanks to several initiatives organised by Teamleaders employees for “De Warmste Week”, they collected €6000 !!!   Enabling the installation of at least 3 computer classes in Africa impacting nearly 1000 students.  Thank you Teamleader!

De Warmste Week

De Warmste Week is “The Flemish charity event of the year” organized by Studio Brussel’ radio station.  It’s happening the week before Christmas and “warmste” relates to “most generous”. Their slogan even says, “everybody cares for everybody”.  During that week, anybody is invited to organize a fundraising action in favor of their chosen charity.

Close the Gap is also registered this year!  Check it out here (in Dutch).  Registrations open on 18/12.

With €2,000 collected, you could furnish and install one computer room in a secondary school in either Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda or Gana.  This would include a set of 15 computers with appropriate software installed, teacher training, technical support and ewaste contribution.  Each class of 15 computers reaches about 300 children.  Note that for every computer sent, we recycle one locally through our sister organization Worldloop.  So, for €10,000, you could implement min 5 computer rooms in 5 different schools, reaching at least 1500 children.  We hope you’ll support Close the Gap.

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Did you hear Close the Gap on the radio? 

Indeed!  Teamleader (a fast-growing company based in Gent specializing in online invoicing and CRM solutions for small to medium companies) sponsors Music for Life.  To walk the talk, they have asked Close the Gap to partner and Teamleader will support some of our projects.

 

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Best wishes for 2018 !

Looking back at 2017, we’d like to thank YOU !

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Thanks to your support in 2017, you helped us:

For 2018, Close the Gap looks forward to your continued support to bridge the digital divide!

Olivier, Julie, Didier, Maïté, Marnick, Marie, Peter and absent on the photo: Inge and Marina

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year !
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Stories from Senegal

Fatou N’Doye is one of the 157.600 estimated 2017 benificiairies of Close the Gap projects in Africa. She is the leading nurse at Gainthe Pathé in Senegal. She is responsible for the district with 6 small health centres.   Her district is located in a remote rural area with limited access to training facilities (2 hours by 4X4).  As part of Close the Gap’s on-going projects, Fatou has been recently trained to use a computer.  She uses her laptop to keep track of the medication stock, to perform administrative tasks and to follow continuing education remotely.

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Another beneficiary is Abdourahime Ndiaye. He is director of the school in Macka Gaye with 61 students.   His school now benefits a laptop, which enables Abdourahime to better prepare his lessons, to improve their quality and ultimately increase his students’ motivation.  He is now also able to print his lessons to share with his students, (which he does at the nearest city accessible via 1 hour motorbike driving through sandpaths).

Thank you to our many donors and partners who make these stories possible.   You want to help too?  Find out here different ways to contribute.   

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