TechCamp Bengaluru – Empowering social sector leaders with the technological resources to make impactful change

Over 50 leaders from the social sector and over 30 technology experts, journalists and university students from across the state of Karnataka came together for TechCamp Bengaluru on February 28, 2014. The event, organized by the U.S. Consulate General, Chennai and Samhita Social Ventures, sought to empower them with new and emerging technology resources to help them solve real world challenges and build digital capacity.

The keynote speech was delivered by Mr. Aravind Sitaraman, the President of Inclusive Growth at Cisco, who is a key proponent of using technology to address the many challenges that society faces. He stressed that technology will help developing nations leapfrog developed countries. However, the real challenge of the day was reaching out to remote areas and ensuring lasting impact in those areas. Speaking on the effective use of technology to maximize impact, he said, ‘Building a technological solution isn’t enough. It is necessary to build an ecosystem around it. To reach the masses, technology must be made keeping in mind computer literacy and local languages.’

The session that followed was a panel discussion on ‘Using Technology Effectively’. The panel was moderated by Ms. Archana Sahay of Cisco and consisted of Mr. Shridhar Venkat, Executive Director at the Akshaya Patra Foundation, Mr. Mahantesh GK, Founder and Managing Trustee of the Samarthanam Foundation, Mr. Gunjan Patel, CSR head at SAP Labs India and Mr. Manickavelu M, Program Director at Mindtree Foundation.

The delegates were then broken up into 4 groups and proceeded to separate sessions with trainers who have expertise in both technology and nonprofits. The themes of the breakout sessions were as follows:

  • Effective Branding & Fundraising conducted by Shrinath V, who has worked with companies such as Nokia and Motorola and is now a product consultant
  • Networking & Data Gathering conducted by Nisha Thompson of DataMeet
  • Crowdsourcing platforms conducted by Sajjad Anwar, a hacktivist and programmer
  • Aggregating & Optimizing Data by Praveen Selvasekaran, founder of SimpleTechLife

The breakout sessions sought to enable participants to engage with technology experts in order to collaborate and find solutions to problems they are trying to address.

The highlight of the day was the address by Ms. Jennifer McIntyre, the Consul General of the U.S. Consulate General, Chennai, who also emphasized on the effective use of digital tools to address social challenges, especially spearheaded by students and youth leaders.

About the TechCamp movement

TechCamp Bengaluru 2014 is the latest in a series of such technology training camps being conducted across the world as part of former US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s Civil Society 2.0 initiative. Past camps were conducted in Mumbai as well as in countries like Israel and Kazakhstan. The effort aims to galvanize the technology community across the globe to assist NGOs by providing capabilities, resources and assistance to enable them to harness the latest Information and Communication Technology advances to build their digital capacity.

TechCamps bring together technologists and CSOs in a particular country or region to brainstorm on challenges they currently face in their communities. These groups work together to develop real time solutions to address these challenges. After a TechCamp event is over and problems have been identified, CSOs are connected to global networks of technologists, sponsors and digital volunteers interested in helping implement solutions.

Samhita’s role in TechCamp Bengaluru

Samhita was a key organizer of TechCamp Mumbai 2013 along with the U.S. Consulate General, Mumbai. Furthering their link with TechCamp, Samhita joined in as the implementation partner of TechCamp Bengaluru. Samhita had the responsibility of identifying NGOs, conceptualizing the event, identifying technological solutions for various challenges that social organizations face, as well as overall outreach and managing the event.