Project #7307

Kabissa - Connecting 1600+ Organizations (2012)

by Kabissa - Space for Change in Africa
Helping Hands
Helping Hands

This is a thank you post - a shout out to all the lovely people who responded to our appeals to help cover Kabissa's 2012 core operating costs on behalf of the Kabissa board of directors, volunteer team and members.

We are humbled by the faith you put in us and encouraged to redouble our efforts to continue our work to maintain and grow a community platform for African civil society on a low cost and sustainable basis.  

Thanks to 50+ generous donors (see hall of fame below) we have met our goal! As of today, we have received just over $15,000. Pledges of over $6,000 are expected to come in during the course of 2012 via Aid for Africa and the World Bank Community Connections Campaign

2012 Core Costs Contributors Hall of Fame

Allen Gunn, Amanda Valeur, Angus Parker, Anne Bayley, Arthur Nielsen Demain, Augustine Komba Mends, Barbara Shaw, Bente Brandt, Bill Minter, Camilla Burg, Chris Bayley, Cindy Nofziger, Cora Weissbourd, Daniel Ritchie, Dave Witzel, Diana Cocoru, Dietrich Splettstoesser, Elinor Fanning, Erikka Martin, Georg Neumann, George Scharffenberger, Georgene Scott, Ghislain Siewe, Harker and Julie Hearne, Jane Sparrow, Jeff Kwaterski, Jeff Thindwa, Jill Hearne, Jim Gleckler, Johanna Eigen, Jon Bayley, Kofi Boakye, Larry Casazza, Leif Utne, Mari Kuraishi, Mark Root-Wiley, Mary Dunnam, Meryl Cohen, Nathan Freitas, Neema Mgana, Nick Mosca, Olujimi Akindele, Patricia Bayley, Paul Ardeleanu, Peggy Duvette, Perpetus Jacques Houngbo, Peter Eigen, Ryan Bogarty-Farolet, Sami Ghazi, Susan Dunn, Tina Manco, Tina Thuermer, Tobias Eigen, Wayan Vota

(This is not an exhaustive list. Please contact us with corrections or to request removal if you prefer not to be recognized) 

So what do you think of our new look?
So what do you think of our new look?

We have redesigned our website at to reflect Kabissa’s role as a niche network connecting people and organizations working for positive change in Africa. We hope you like it!

We can’t wait for you to explore the site and give us your feedback. Here are some highlights:

  • The Kabissa Front Page draws in new members by highlighting our unique offerings for African civil society, showcasing members through a new “member stories” section and featuring news and blogs posted on Kabissa by members.
  • The Kabissa Community Blog is a space available for members to blog about their activities in Africa and to share opportunities, insights and tech tips relevant to the continent. Posts to the blog are featured on the Kabissa frontpage, monthly member newsletter and distributed via Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks.
  • Kabissa Groups are now reoriented around private, members-only discussion, information sharing and networking via email (like Yahoo! Groups or a listserv) to enable quicker interaction and mutual support between members - directly in our email. Each group has a private online space containing member list, full record of email discussions and wiki pages.
  • Log in to take a look at the new Member Dashboard pull-down menu which brings together in one place everything you might need to do to manage your group memberships, newsletter subscriptions, user profile page, organizations and more.

If you encounter a problem or bug with the new site, or have any feedback at all, please report it as soon as possible via our feedback form at so we can fix it - thank you!

Up Next

There is still plenty of work to do. Now that we have completed this upgrade, the next step is to upgrade our member directory. Our goals for the next step, which we hope to complete before the end of 2011, include the following:

  • Improved integration of Website Features so that it will be easier to browse members and organizations, and see how members are connected to organizations, groups and their own content.
  • More useful and attractive Organization Profile Pages, including the addition of news feeds from organization ‘official’ websites and blogs, and social networking buttons and widgets.
  • Ability to add blog content directly to Organization Profile Pages, which then appear as a feed on the page as well as in the community blog and Kabissa front page.

On the Roadmap for 2012

Beyond the improvements outlined above, we have identified the following projects as “low hanging fruit” that we would like to work on in 2012. If you are interested in helping to make it happen, you can either volunteer your expertise or donate money. We’d love to hear from you.

  • Improve website performance so web pages load faster, and create a Kabissa distribution of our website code to make security updates and sharing of code easier.
  • Add new Open Data interfaces to the Kabissa organization directory to enable programmers to use our data on their websites.
  • Begin producing an annual Kabissa Yearbook containing a snapshot of the organizations in the Kabissa network and their content.
  • Add support for Multiple Languages to be more welcoming to African organizations working in non-Anglophone countries.
  • Create user-friendly Country and Theme Dashboards that make it really easy to find and make use of the Kabissa organizations and content you need. 
  • Create Mobile Apps to provide access to Kabissa organizations and content from mobile devices.


First and foremost I’d like to thank all the Kabissa volunteers around the world for their hard work. All volunteers contributed, but the following people were especially helpful in making this upgrade happen: Thomas Brevik (lead designer), Sami Ghazi (marketing/copywriting), Mark Root-Wiley (designer) and Ryan Barolet-Fogarty (web development).

I’d also like to thank Kyle Mathews, the web developer who implemented the new theme and upgraded the site according to the mockups provided by Thomas.

A shout out also goes out to the 100+ generous individuals who donated to Kabissa’s core costs fund last year which paid for this round of core site upgrades.  

Fundraising Campaign Now Underway for 2012 

Run by volunteers, Kabissa's running costs are low but we still have costs - and we depend on donations to cover our core annual operating budget which is $20,000 and pays for server hosting and maintenance costs, book keeping and annual independent audit. Funds raised beyond that amount are contributed towards special projects to improve the Kabissa platform and strengthen our network.

Please help sustain Kabissa for another year and make a donation via Global Giving. Asante sana! Thank you! 


Mozambikes: Kabissa Photo Competition winners
Mozambikes: Kabissa Photo Competition winners

Dear friends,

We are delighted by the positive response to our inaugural photo competition this summer and want to share the results with you, our GlobalGiving supporters, ahead of more updates coming soon about our activities since our last GlobalGiving Progress Report. Thank you so much for your support and encouragement! 

We intend to make the photo competition a regular tradition at Kabissa, and look forward to doing more via our new online community platform (coming soon!) to showcase member organizations and the important work they are doing in their communities.  

Collectively, the submissions to the photo competition were a remarkable representation of the Kabissa community, spanning a wide range of causes, sizes and geographic regions served. We sincerely thank everyone for submitting and voting, and for the contributions you are making to your local communities.

And the winner is...

We are proud to announce that the winner of the competition is Mozambikes, Limitada, based in Mozambique. Mozambikes' photo tells the story of the power of bicycles to change lives through their ability to increase people's work efficiency. As a result, they are able to increase their daily incomes.

Mozambique: Mozambikes, Limitada

Honorable Mention

The two runners-ups were submitted by Mercy Hospital, in Sierra Leone, and Connected in Hope Foundation, in Ethiopia. Mercy Hospital's photo highlighted a mother and her children who had attended a mobile health clinic sponsored by the hospital. The Connected in Hope Foundation's photo showcased a mother and daughter earning a living by creating their own hand-woven goods, which the foundation helps to sell in global markets.

Sierra Leone: Mercy Hospital, a program of Helping Children WorldwideConnected in Hope Foundation, Inc.

Thanks to your vote, these three photos will be featured on the Kabissa front page, as examples of the community-shaping work that Kabissa's members are involved in every day. Click here to explore the full photo gallery of all 67 photo submissions.

Congratulations to the winners and thank you once again for your participation!


Sami Ghazi
Kabissa Volunteer


Dear Kabissa members, supporters and friends,

I am struck by the relevance to today’s networked world of Frantz Fanon’s warning: A community will evolve only when a people control their own communication. The fact is that we are increasingly ceding control over our means of communicating with each other to privately run social networks, especially Facebook and Twitter. These are great platforms and I continue to recommend that organizations take advantage of them as part of their overall social media strategy. However, as evidenced perhaps most starkly by the Arab Spring, it is becoming apparent that networks like Kabissa that are run by and for civil society need to be strengthened to create a sustainable and functional "communications commons" that is independent from those commercial platforms.

With that guiding thought, read on for an update on Kabissa’s strategic evolution from social business to volunteer-run civil society network, the upcoming launch of our updated community website with improvements we think you will like, and a request for your input on a somewhat revolutionary idea to help Kabissa members spread their organization data more widely by joining the "Open Data movement".

As always, thank you for your support, partnership and encouragement.

In solidarity,

Tobias Eigen,
Kabissa Founder and Executive Director

P.S. On a personal note: I am shifting this summer from Berlin, Germany to Bainbridge Island, near Seattle in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. I am sad to be leaving friends and family in Berlin as well as this time zone shared by many African friends and colleagues, but looking forward to reconnecting with friends, family, and Kabissa members in the Pacific Northwest and PST time zone.

Our story so far

African Democracy Forum Participants in Time To Get Online Workshop in Milimani Hotel, Nairobi 2006Historically, Kabissa operated as a nonprofit business. Between our founding in 1999 and 2007, Executive Directors managed staff, interns and volunteers to carry out the organization’s programs and services. The Board of Directors played a support role in setting policies and priorities, maintaining the nonprofit's overall direction, defining the mission of the organization, approving strategies and budgets presented by the staff, and ensuring that plans and programs are implemented. Our target beneficiaries were civil society organizations in Africa. Potential donors and friends of Kabissa in the United States were nurtured to help with Kabissa’s sustainability but were considered separately from our target beneficiaries in Africa.

In 2008, Kabissa closed its Washington DC office and became a volunteer-run network organization with no staff. Our mission remains the same, to help African civil society organizations put ICT to work for the benefit of their communities, but the way we do it is now different:

  1. The Kabissa Board is taking a more active interest in Kabissa operations and for the first time, we are forming Board committees to oversee critical areas such as membership, governance and fundraising on an ongoing basis. To start, Neema Mgana, our board member from Tanzania, is setting up a new Kabissa Representatives Program to help connect Kabissa to Civil Society Organizations at the grassroots.
  2. People and organizations are being invited to join, participate, and contribute to Kabissa no matter where they are in the world. This means there is no longer a distinction between beneficiaries in Africa and contributors in the United States, but beneficiaries and contributors come from both places. Indeed the people and organizations we once “served” now can build activities contributing to Kabissa into their own work. They can help Kabissa (and everyone in our network) while helping themselves.
  3. Volunteer teams are forming to contribute to four top-level work areas that we have identified and documented in great detail in a new Kabissa Operating Procedures document. The aim is to enable a new volunteer to join and quickly see where they fit in, and then immediately start working. We are successful in recruiting volunteers through word of mouth and a volunteering form directly on the Kabissa website, and are confident that the new operating procedures will enable us to get all the work done to keep Kabissa moving forward.

Setting up Kabissa Volunteering

We are actively recruiting volunteers! We received 80 (!) applications in April, many of them from Africa. The immediate task now is to identify and bring on board suitable team leaders who will take charge of filling their teams, which are:

  1. Network Team
    Supporting and growing the people and organizations in the Kabissa network. Responsible for coordinating volunteers and representatives, managing members, and moderating groups.
  2. Content Team
    Responsible for managing, editing and spreading the content being shared on Kabissa by our members. Tasks include: promoting content to the frontpage and sitewide blog, editing newsletters/special mailings, member content, and spreading Kabissa content via social networks outreach (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and beyond).
  3. Platform Team
    Responsible for all things tech at Kabissa - from maintaining our server to developing our open source platform. Tasks include: Drupal site maintenance, web projects management, web design, and domain registration management.
  4. Organization Team
    Responsible for keeping Kabissa humming as an organization. Tasks include: marketing, fundraising, and governance.

Setting up the teams is a rather painstaking, experimental process but we are excited about the opportunity to leverage our own global network to build up our capacity to maintain and grow Kabissa as a network, a platform, and as an organization.

If you are interested in joining one of these teams or contributing even on a short-term basis and have not yet contacted us, please complete the form at - thanks!

Survey on the use of Social Networks and the Internet in West African Civil Society

Wiser WestAfrica logoIn case you missed it: in March, we announced the results of a very illuminating survey we did in collaboration with WiserEarth West Africa.

“This survey illustrates the hunger among African civil society activists to utilize emerging Information and Communications Technologies to help advance the missions of their organizations,” said Camilla Burg, WiserEarth Communications & Outreach Director.

“The next step is to supply the resources needed to make a truly wired future a reality. The availability of online communication and collaboration tools and the ability to use them properly profoundly impacts the way that civil society functions,” added Tobias Eigen, Kabissa Executive Director. “This survey helps us understand how far we have come in that respect, guiding our priorities as we nurture and support our membership and evolve the functionality of our online community platform.”

Read the full announcement and download the survey results and source data: Unleashing the potential of social networks and the Internet in West Africa: A study into collaboration and communication among civil society organizations

Kabissa 3.0: The next revision of our online platform

The survey we did with WiserEarth encouraged us to continue to develop and improve the Kabissa online platform, which plays an important role in providing a civil society owned space that complements the larger for-profit social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

In brief, the improvements to the Kabissa online platform will include:

  1. an attractive, efficient new design,
  2. improved Kabissa frontpage and outreach materials that showcase Kabissa members and content better, and make it easier to join and use Kabissa,
  3. improved integration of website features so that it will be easier to browse members and organizations, and see how members are connected to organizations, groups and their own content,
  4. more useful and attractive organization profile pages, including the addition of news feeds and social networking buttons and widgets (e.g. Facebook, Twitter and GlobalGiving),
  5. separated blogs and groups, so that blog posts are added directly to organization profile pages, while groups will from now on be dedicated to email discussion/networking and document collaboration,
  6. a new user configurable dashboard that provides members with immediate access to Kabissa content that is relevant to them personally,
  7. improved website performance (speed) so web pages load faster, and
  8. a “Kabissa distribution” of our website code on github to make it easier for us to do security updates and involve partners, volunteers and contractors who want to download the code and add their improvements to it.

We are actively working on the upgrade and will launch “Kabissa 3.0” as soon as possible - please complete the volunteering form if you are interested in helping out with coding, copy writing and testing. Thanks!

Making Kabissa organization data open: a proposal

We learned about the benefits of the emerging Open Data movement at the Open Data for Development Camp conference which took place in May 2011. Kabissa was invited to brainstorm the idea of Kabissa offering our organization data via Open Data, and we were very warmly received by conference participants who are looking actively for reliable organization data. (To learn more about the outcomes of the conference, read the blog post by Tobias Eigen: Open Data is data that can be freely used, reused and redistributed by anyone.)

We created a page at to start an open discussion with the Kabissa community about an idea we have to leverage Open Data to spread Kabissa organization data beyond our own website.

Currently our data is not available as Open Data. In order to access and use the data in the Kabissa organization directory, you need to visit the Kabissa website and either browse the map or do a database search - unless of course you happen to already have the direct URL to an organization profile page or come across it via an Internet search.

Open Data presents an opportunity for Kabissa organizations to be found in many more places. Some examples might include:

  • maps or visualizations produced on other websites like,
  • local civil society platforms like Nani Online in Kenya providing services to local organizations, and
  • print directories of organizations working in local communities, with specific networks, or on specific topics.

To be clear, we are not talking here about personal details of individuals or any email addresses - we are talking about the key organizational details that members are already making available via their profile pages on Kabissa and that we all want to share as widely as possible. On Kabissa, this information is managed by the organizations themselves.

What do you think? Read the full proposal at and add your vote to the poll at the bottom. Your feedback will help inform the board of directors, who will decide at our next board meeting whether or not to go Open Data. Thanks!

It is April and Spring has sprung here in Berlin, where I am writing, and the performance mother nature is putting on outside my window is very welcome - the trees are turning green, flowers are sprouting, and noisy birds are busily getting to work building their nests.

Also at Kabissa we have been busy, though perhaps not as noisily as the birds outside. We have been working hard behind the scenes assembling a core volunteering team, upgrading and redesigning the Kabissa website, brainstorming a new Kabissa Representatives role and writing down the new Kabissa Operating Procedures.

We can't wait to share updates on all of these activities as soon as we can, which we believe will go a long way to strengthening Kabissa as network, platform and organization. If you want to help out, have suggestions or questions please contact us - we'd love to hear from you on our Global Giving project wall, email, twitter, or facebook.

I would like to personally ask you to join me in expressing gratitude and appreciation for the hard work being put in by the Kabissa volunteer team, who all have other fulltime jobs and are contributing to Kabissa in their spare time. Deserving of special mention are star volunteers Neema Mgana, Ghislain Siewe, Sami Ghazi, Mark Root-Wiley and Thomas Brevik.

In solidarity,

Tobias Eigen, Kabissa Founder


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Organization Information

Kabissa - Space for Change in Africa

Location: Bainbridge Island, WA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Kabissa - Space for Change in Africa
Project Leader:
Tobias Eigen
Bainbridge Island, WA United States

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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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