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Africa Teen Geek – a Mandela Day Project

Sat, 18/07/2015 - 16:57

The 18th of July is a special day for South Africa. It’s an occasion where we remember the legacy of a truly inspirational man; an individual who had the rare ability to see – and bring out – the best in people.

For Mandela Day 2015, more than 20 of the Rogerwilco team gave up their Saturday to make their own small contribution to Madiba’s memory.

Instead of picking up litter or donating blankets, we felt we could add more meaningful value by harnessing the skills of our developers, designers, content producers, SEOs and client services team to give a not-for-profit organisation a digital makeover.

Africa Teen Geek (ATG) is a South African NGO that teaches children and the unemployed to write software code. Its mission is to empower today’s youth and hopefully unearth tomorrow’s Vinny Lingham, Yossi Hasson or Mark Shuttleworth (our landlord).

While the organisation has the backing of tech giants like Microsoft and Google (in February 2015 it became the first and only South African recipient of Google’s RISE awards which are designed to increase interest in computer science), like many NGOs it puts its funding towards service delivery.

While ATG recognised the importance of having a strong digital presence to attract funding, enrol learners and entice teachers to its programmes, its desire to prioritise spend on projects rather than on a marketing overhead meant that its website was in a state of disrepair, creating a poor reflection of the quality of its projects.

At this point, we jumped in. In five hours our 22 volunteers created a new corporate identity, built a website (using the open source Drupal framework), conducted heaps of keyword research to understand their audience’s language, rewrote their content and took their new site live.

As a bonding experience it was worth way more than a day’s river rafting. At a spiritual level it gave everyone who participated a sense of real purpose, and at a personal level, it made me feel profoundly proud and privileged to lead a team of such amazing people.

ATG is a cause we’ll continue to support in the coming months and years. It’s a cause that’s naturally close to our own hearts...and I hope one day we’ll have the honour of employing some of the youngsters who’ve passed through an Africa Teen Geek training programme.