File picture: Pexels
File picture: Pexels

How an innovative app played a part behind social grant increase

By IOL Tech reporter Time of article published May 29, 2020

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To provide some relief to those in the informal work sector, the Children’s Institute launched a petition to increase the Child Support Grant during the pandemic.

They partnered with Amandla.mobi to garner support from communities via email and social media, lobbying and presidential discourse. Amandla.mobi further partnered with the innovative tech app Grassroot.

Grassroot is a technology platform that was built to allow people without data and on the most basic of phones, to participate in large scale civil society campaigns, engage in debates, and organize their own community groups. 

The company was founded by Luke Jordan in 2014.

Grassroot had a massive impact on the 2020 social grant petition’s success. On April 9, an initial SMS was sent to 20 000 people, notifying them of the petition to increase the social grant.

Through a sharing function on the platform, once the campaign was signed another cell number was submitted which then also received the petition SMS. This resulted in 530 000 people signing the petition between April 9 and 13. 

“At one point, over 50 000 people per hour were signing the petition,” says Jordan. “In the course of just a week, over a million new people used Grassroot.”

The signature records were sent to the Presidency and National Treasury. One of the largest civil society campaigns in South Africa’s history resulted in the petition being successful and the increase to the social grant was approved.

“We enable participatory democracy and are working towards a vision of a nation self-organizing from the ground-up,” explains Jordan. By building a platform that consists of purpose-built tools that solve real problems for people who wish to organize their communities, Grassroot is offering real solutions. It connects leaders to each other and allows the easy aggregation and analysis of the issues they tackle.” 

In a world of social-media and instant sharing, many take for granted the power that data provides to individuals when it comes to drawing attention to a cause. Often times, those without data are often left on the side-lines without a voice. 

“In every community there are men and women who have the fire within to create change but are hindered by time and money -- many who might lead simply cannot,” Jordan adds.

IOL TECH

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