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Kabissa – Space for Change in Africa is a volunteer-led non-governmental organization that promotes Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to empower and connect people and civil society organizations (CSO) for positive change in Africa. Kabissa members are active throughout Africa, working on a range of crucial tasks including Advocacy and Policy, Arts, Culture, Conflict Resolution, Humanitarian Services, Economic Development, Poverty Reduction, Education, Environment, Gender, Governance, Health, Human Rights, Democracy, Media, Journalism, Microfinance, Technology, Training, and Capacity Building.
Kabissa headquarters are on Bainbridge Island, WA in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, although the organization operates mostly online and boasts contributors from all over the world. The founder of the organization is Tobias Eigen who led Kabissa together with Kimberly Lowery from 2002-2007.
Kabissa, meaning complete in Swahili, helps African civil society organizations put Internet and Communications Technology (ICT) to work for the benefit of their communities. Founded in 1999 by Tobias Eigen, Kabissa initially provided domain hosting services, then capacity-building through a custom training curriculum and manual, and is currently dedicated to connecting people and organizations for Africa via the social media platform.
Anyone interested in Africa can create a free account, subscribe to newsletters and participate in groups. Nearly everyone in the Kabissa network is involved in organizations working on the continent that are listed in the Kabissa Organization Directory and displayed on the Kabissa Map.
Kabissa's member organizations are extremely varied in nature and are thus an excellent indicator of overall African civil society sector. These members range from newly established localized organizations working in human rights and social justice to large, well established organizations doing far-reaching environmental work. Currently Kabissa's member organizations categorize themselves into the following focus areas:
- Advocacy and Policy
- Arts and Culture
- Conflict Resolution
- Direct Social and Humanitarian Services
- Economic Development and Poverty Reduction
- Human Rights and Democracy
- Media and Journalism
- Training and Capacity Building
Kabissa Board of Directors
- John Githongo, Kenya
- Neema Mgana, Tanzania
- Tobias Eigen, Germany/USA
- George Scharffenberger, USA
- Jeff Thindwa, Malawi
- Aid for Africa Foundation
- Global Washington
Kabissa operates under the following charter:
Kabissa’s mission is to help African civil society organizations put Internet and Communications Technology (ICT) to work for the benefit of the people they serve.
Kabissa’s vision is for a socially, economically, politically, and environmentally vibrant Africa, supported by a strong network of effective civil society organizations.
Kabissa seeks to adhere to the following principles in its operations and governance:
- To work in close cooperation with partner organizations that can provide local expertise, support, and resources wherever possible
- To make its operations transparent to the Kabissa community and the general public
- To employ the services of companies that share Kabissa’s vision whenever possible. In all cases, the organizations will show professional integrity and provide the best value, so that Kabissa can pass on high-quality, affordable services to the Kabissa community
- To avoid any source of income derived from activities which indisputably conflict with our vision
- To be a highly-efficient organization, keeping overhead costs to a minimum
- To develop, use, and promote software and content that is freely available under open source licensing agreements
- To embrace a diversity of perspectives in our member community, our staff, and our board
Kabissa was founded in 1999 by Tobias Eigen with the idea that Internet and Communications Technology (ICT) could revolutionize the work of African civil society. Building on the years of consulting experience Tobias Eigen had with African civil society, Kabissa began by providing African organizations with accessible, affordable, and secure internet services.
During the next three years Kabissa showed strong growth and gained increasing recognition. In June, 2002 Kabissa won the ICT Stories Competition, an initiative of infoDev and the International Institute of Communication and Development (IICD) which sought to capture the learning process that accompanies the introduction and implementation of ICTs for development. In September, 2002 Kabissa added a part-time Program Manager, Kim Lowery, to its staff. By November, 2002 Kabissa was awarded its first major grant from the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ) for the pilot phase of Kabissa’s Time To Get Online training initiative. They went on to set up an office at Dupont Circle in Washington DC where for the next five years three employees and dozens of interns and volunteers worked on its programs with funding from major foundations including the Ford Foundation, Open Society Institute Information Program, the Hurford Foundation, National Endowment for Democracy, Yahoo Employee Foundation, and Lonely Planet Foundation (now Planet Wheeler Foundation). They also trained hundreds of activists and development practitioners in end user and training of trainers workshops and distributed thousands of copies of the Time To Get Online manual. In partnership with Tanmia in Morocco, the Time To Get Online manual and training program was localized into French and Arabic.
From April 2005 through March 2008, Kabissa administered the PanAfrican Localisation Project, which was funded by the International Development Research Centre of Canada.
In 2007, Kabissa followed its founder, Tobias Eigen, to Bainbridge Island, WA in the Pacific Northwest of the United States and became a volunteer organization with no employees. In 2009, Kabissa announced a new focus on social media in Africa. At the same time, Kabissa streamlined its internet services and shut down the server hosting websites for its member organizations.
As of May, 2010 Kabissa had 1504 member organizations representing over 50 African countries, and included internationally renowned human rights groups, charities, development organizations and orphanages.