Vodafone Launches Betavine Social Exchange, Matchmaker for Mobile Solutions

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Oct 15, 2009

After months of work, Betavine Social Exchange, a matching site for mobile solutions in development and for social impact, launched yesterday.  Supported by Vodafone, Betvaine Social Exchange hopes to connect NGOs seeking mobile solutions to their challenges with developers and community partners. 

NGOs are invited to post a challenge that outlines their specific problem.  According to Steve Wolak, Betavine's principal manager, after a challenge has been posed, "everyone in the community is welcome to join in the discussion. When a mobile developer comes up with a technological solution, he or she uploads it into a solutions page. Organisations who have registered as BSX Support Partners may then step in to assist with deployment."

Betavine has been around since early 2007 as a non-commercial mobile developer community (even as it is supported by Vodafone). Betavine is aimed at increasing mobile application development and allows developers to upload and profile their alpha- and beta-stage applications and provides a discussion and feedback platform for these apps.

With the addition of Social Exchange, Betavine hopes to extend the developer talent already active there into the social development space.  Vodafone has a keen interest in mobiles for for social development. It is one of the largest mobile telecommunications network companies in the world, operating in 25 countries with partner networks in another 42 countries

The Vodafone Foundation, the chjaritable arm of Vodafone, is a funding partner, for example, in the Technology Project of the UN Foundation, and the new mHealth Alliance.  Vodafone also holds a majority stake in Vodacom, South Africa's largest mobile operator, which has been an active supporter of m-health projects in the region.

According to the concept paper on the BSX wiki, Betavine Social Exchange aims to

  • Provides mobile solutions to real social needs ready for deployment via local operators or partners
  • Engages new communities of users:
    • People working in the ‘social sector’, e.g. NGO’s, NPO’s, local government and community groups in emerging markets
    • Non-technical mobile telecoms professionals (e.g. marketers, product managers)
  • Enables participation of developers and users in the co-creation of new mobile apps & services
  • Delivers mobile solutions that are capable of being deployed by local operating companies or third parties

BSX will present some of the goals and challenges connecting NGOs with solution providers at the Mobile Tech 4 Social Change Camp in Cape Town, South Africa on October 31.  BSX is a sponsor of the event. 

We hope that the MobileActive community will take a close look at the Betavine Social Exchange.  With lots of work and community building online and offline, it has the potential to be a way for NGOs to connect with relevent talent and partners on their mobile projects.  At the same time, it remains to be seen whether some of the real, on-the-ground challenges that especially smaller organizations face in regard to mobile projects can be met byt the site.  We would, for example, encourage, in addition to the online component, a m-rider pogram that provides regional and local on-the ground support. 

BSX plans to have a few pilot projects in South Africa to learn more about what is needed and tweek the process and site. In the meantime, we are pleased to learn more in Cape Town at the end of the month!



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