Dintshang? (What's Happening?)

Dintshang? (What's Happening?)

Gaborone, BotswanaGaborone, Botswana
Year Founded:
2009
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Budget: 
$250,000 - $500,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Dintshang, Setswana for "What's Happening?", is a project presented by PING, a youth-led NGO in Botswana. Dintshang's web and mobile phone platforms allow youth to have insightful discussions on issues like gender, love and drug abuse, all centered around the latest celebrity gossip. The site connects youth to health and support services, enabling them to address these issues in their own lives.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

HIV epidemic in Botswana, among the highest in the world, has resulted in 32,254 vulnerable children reported in early 2013, an increase since 2008. Youth face an increased risk of violence, emotional distress and HIV due to widespread alcohol abuse, unemployment and a struggling education system. In Botswana, 38.9%, of the population is between ages 10 and 24, but while this population could contribute greatly to development, peace and security, they are not being met with sufficient support. National government has formally committed to providing services to provide youth with education, healthcare, nutrition, safety, psychosocial wellbeing and social protection but has signaled the importance of the working with stakeholders in and outside government to develop these support networks.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

In the Dintshang project, PING has developed an online platform to engage youth ages 15-35 in frank discussions focusing on topics like love, relationships, sexuality, gender identity and disparities, societal norms, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) (including HIV/AIDS), cultural issues and more. Topics will be presented using celebrity and entertainment content (both local and international) as the vehicle to drive interest and foster dialogue, often by asking provocative questions geared to bring up subjects that are rarely, if ever, taught. The platform will be accessible online and via smart or basic mobile phones, and through every modality participants will be will be able to both participate in frank discussions and access a location-based directory of support services.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Dintshang aims to provide a platform that disseminates information about HIV/AIDS, gender violence, cultural norms, healthy relationships, love, and other health- related information by relating to youth in Botswana in an entertainment-oriented manner, which will be shared virally through the Dintshang site and social media. Discussions begun on Dintshang will only be the first step toward enacting social change and initiative a broader discussion amongst youth themselves about the role these issues play in their lives. Objectives include: increase self efficacy to discuss and change relevant social and cultural structures, strengthen community structures and referral networks to meet youth’s needs and initiate exchanges between individuals of differing viewpoints and backgrounds.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

In the short-term, PING is looking to launch and expand several products, including Dintshang. Additionally, PING hopes to expand the piloted malaria surveillance and mapping project with the support of the Ministry of Health and interested funding partners. PING is in talks with various branches of the MOH to discuss new projects as well. PING also hopes to solidify a partnership with a research institution to ensure that our projects are held to the highest monitoring and evaluation standards as we move forward. By the end of 2013, PING would like to see an expansion to Mozambique, where partnerships have already been forged with local partner organizations. At the same time, PING looks to see its for-profit arm, Develo, secure product funding and add to PING’s long-term sustainability.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Our most notable peer is Young Africa Live, a website started by the Praekelt Foundation, that connects users to stories about HIV/AIDS and help lines where they can find referrals or support. PING believes that YAL, while similar, is not a competitor, as our tool is unique to Botswana, a market that we are very familiar with. Additionally, by adding mobile phone capabilities and location-based services, PING's platform is even more accessible to users, particularly youth. Dintshang has other seeming competitors in the social media space, like Twitter, Facebook and Tumbr, who it hopes to turn into collaborators by creating a Dintshang Facebook and Twitter page to re-direct traffic back to discussion on the Dintshang site.
Team

Founding Story

PING was founded in 2009 by a young American doing HIV/AIDS research and a Motswana with technical expertise, hoping to leverage a high mobile phone density to address Botswana’s health problems. PING partnered with the Ministry of Health and began youth mentorship activities. Dintshang embodies both activities: using technology and social media to empower youth and connect them to support.
Organization Name

Positive Innovation for the Next Generation (PING)

About You
About You
First Name

Britta

Last Name

Mason

The information you provide here will be used to fill in any parts of your profile that have been left blank, such as interests, organization information, and website. No contact information will be made public. Please uncheck here if you do not want this to happen..

Innovation
Explain what the "innovation" is about, e.g., is it the idea and/or the model you use to accomplish the idea, or your understanding of the target population, etc.?

Dintshang is truly an innovative concept, combining a social networking site with a portal to connect youth to health services. Through Dintshang, which translates to “What’s Happening” in slang Setswana, youth can find local and international celebrity and entertainment news, but see it presented in a meaningful way, addressing topics like alcohol and drug abuse, sexual health, cultural issues and gender identity through posted stories. The Dintshang platform will include a website and mobile phone applications, where youth can speak freely on stigmatized topics that they face daily but have little opportunity to discuss. Open-ended questions, posted with each news story, will give youth the chance to interact, while survey questions will offer a snapshot of how participants feel about a topic, giving everyone a way to share their voice. The site will be moderated and users may opt to be anonymous. To further encourage participation, users will earn points every time they logon, comment and participate, earning them access to song downloads and ringtones.

After brining up sensitive topics, Dintshang takes the next step, presenting youth with a tool to find local health and support resources to deal with issues they are facing. A range of services (including health care, career counseling, relationship support, and help with drug or alcohol abuse) will be available and sorted by type and location, enabling youth to find help in a central site. Dintshang not only empowers youth to think critically about their own lives, but gives them a way to turn concern to action.

Describe how your innovation model is distinct from any other organization in your field?

Dintshang brings insightful messages to youth through a channel that these youth are comfortable with and using regularly. Youth know the kind of heated discussions that can take place over Facebook and Twitter and they also hear or read about a wide array of celebrity gossip about supposed “role models”. Where other organizations might see this behavior and think of it as a distraction from learning important life skills or even a reinforcement of negative messages, PING has chosen to combine these activities and explore their positive potential. With proper guidance and a connection to resources, these habits can be a starting point for behavior change. PING’s nature as youth-led organization has earned us a reputation for creating innovations that others lack the vision to realize.

What type of operating environment and internal organizational factors make your innovation successful?

PING has partnered with local telecommunications company Mascom and the Ministries of Health and Education. PING’s partnership with Mascom offers technological support and funding for SMS and data costs for the mobile phone platforms (Dintshang access will be free) and publicity. Collaboration with government ensures project sustainability and greater access to youth through schools and government projects than by simply working with non-profit partners. Dintshang will also offer advertising space to ensure long-term sustainability beyond donor funding and to involve local businesses looking to connect with youth while supporting a socially responsible cause. Organizationally, PING’s young staff will manage and run Dintshang for their peers, ensuring that the site stays relevant.

How do you make sure you constantly innovate in light of (potential) external challenges, or your growth plan?

PING realizes that innovation requires risk, and works with government, the for-profit sector and CSOs to ensure that our projects have a variety of experts' input. PING’s for-profit sister entity, Develo, was launched with the intent to make the most of these relationships, providing mobile applications for emerging markets that allow telecoms to provide value added services to both end users and local government Innovation in capacity building is built into our organizational activities, as PING runs a youth mentorship program and is beginning a club at the University of Botswana, both with the goal of connecting with the next generation of technology experts, helping them further their career training and offering the brightest positions as PING staff.

Organization Country

, Gaborone

Business Model
The systemic challenge you are trying to overcome (select one)

Bring accessible healthcare to communities in emerging markets

Health area (target market) where the need is [select only one]

Other specialty care

Categories along the health continuum you are covering [select all that apply]

Prevention, Detection, Intervention.

Stage that best applies to your solution [select only one]

Idea (poised to launch)

Core strategies of your business model [select all that apply]

Approaches to behavioral change at the individual level, Patient-centered design, Redesign of the public healthcare system for more efficiency (in terms of processes, structure etc.), New/redefined roles for healthcare service provision, New approaches to distribution of health products and services.

If other, specify here:
Most relevant tools you are using to implement the strategies outlined above [select only two]

Technology, Education/training, Others.

If other, specify here:

Open discussion of controversial issues in a safe space

What is your value proposition?

Dintshang’s value lies in its fresh and innovative use of semi-traditional social media for a positive purpose. The interactive mobile and internet platforms that Dintshang employs are the perfect media for this kind of exchange. As Botswana has an estimated mobile phone penetration rate of 164%, engaging audiences through both basic and smart mobile phone and internet platforms ensures that nearly all Batswana will have a way to access Dintshang. In a country that is among the least densely populated in the world, Dintshang provides an important opportunity for youth to exchange ideas and interact with individuals far outside their community. Having a reliable source of health resources and a safe place to ask serious questions is valuable to users and would be new in Botswana.

Who is your customer(s)?

Keletso, a 19-year old female living outside Lobatse, Botswana is a typical Dintshang customer. Keletso loves reading about Chris Brown and Rihanna’s tumultuous relationship and even though her boyfriend doesn’t physically abuse her, she feels like she and Rihanna are both trapped in relationships that are not good for them. Keletso wants to hear about local and international stars but feels like she would have to spend hours surfing the web, reading newspaper articles and listening to radio shows to do really be up to date. She has lived in the same town all her life, but has no idea about youth empowerment organizations or mental health services nearby. If she did, she would probably get her younger brother help because she thinks he is developing an unhealthy alcohol dependency.

What approaches to you use to reach your customers?

Dintshang platforms' launch will coincide with traditional publicity, including the design and production of media such as flyers, billboards and posters, to be donated by our telecommunications partner, Mascom. In these early phases, Dintshang will also be promoted at local concerts and sports games, and through an independent Dintshang launch party with Yarona FM. Dintshang will target university campuses as a major part of outreach and promotion, and form partnerships with student organizations to spread the word through their networks. Dintshang will partially rely on users to share the site between themselves, both by word of mouth and through Dintshang’s Facebook and Twitter pages. These other sites will be big sources of new users once Dintshang has attracted a small following.

What are your primary activities?

Before release, the Dintshang platforms will be subjected to consumer testing by local youth. PING hosted one customer development session to get feedback on how youth access health information, use the internet and what they thought of the site. As development completes, attention will shift to the site launch. PING will leverage partners like Mascom, local radio and television and government and publicize the site through print, social networks, and other media sources in order to attract users, culminating with a launch event at major universities in Gaborone, Botswana. PING will also form partnerships with local media to provide content on local celebrities, and train a blogger and moderator to find and post stories and discussion questions while monitoring site activity.

What other challenges - individual, organizational, or environmental – are you currently facing or might hinder future success of your business, and how do you plan to overcome those?

PING’s major challenge is securing mid-term funding for our projects to sustain them until they can be funded and adopted by local government. To overcome this challenge, PING as branched to create a for-profit sister organization called Develo that utilizes lessons learned from working with technology in emerging markets. Develo, a for-profit, will generate revenue for PING, creating a synergy between the two arms. Currently, as projects are launching for both Develo and PING, the organization as a whole is struggling financially, making it difficult to secure adequate staff to sustain our projects in the short term. In light of current discussions with Ministry of Health, for-profit partners and others, PING believes that both will be able to carry out long-term plans.

Briefly describe your growth strategy going forward

PING relies on strong partnerships, expanding our hybrid operation model, working with local government and continuing to train local youth, ultimately creating a methodology for expansion that can be applied to various developing countries. Much of PING’s success to date has been tied to these business practices and our innovative business practices, as we move to expand this in coming years.

What dimensions for growth are you currently targeting for your innovation [select all that apply]

New customer group(s), New market(s)/country(ies).

What makes your business "ready" for growth?

In light of our past successes, partners including government, international funders and local for-profits have expressed interest in continuing working with PING, and we are continually approached by organizations in Africa who are interested in forging collaborations who are interested in PING’s focus on creating sustainable products and weaving lessons learned into future products.

What are your key growth objectives?

PING aims to expand operations to 3 to 5 countries in the next 3 years. In each, PING’s youth mentorship program will be replicated and local offices will be 70% youth led, with an understanding that this will require us to grow thoughtfully and may take time to establish but will ultimately be the most sustainable as youth can grow within the organization as we transition to government funding.

Social Impact
What methods for quantification of social impact are you applying (if at all)?

In order to access Dintshang discussion forums or resources, youth will have to register with their email address, age, gender, location and answer a few baseline monitoring and evaluation questions on their knowledge, attitudes and behaviors regarding accessing health and other services and about the issues discussed on Dintshang. As they use Dintshang, questions will be sent to users at timed intervals, monitoring changes in their awareness of and feelings toward these topics. PING will also be able to gather data on how users access Dintshang and how often they comment or participate. Questions can be modified and sent out over email, text message or through the site. These tools, along with comments posted, will be used to quantify social impact and measure progress.

Could your solution work in other geographies or regions? If so, where?

A defining characteristic of Dintshang is that it is built to be specific to Botswana – it directs users to services based on location in country, provides the majority of celebrity news on local artists and issues and fills a purpose that no other platform in Botswana ever has. However, in a different location, particularly in a country where no service directory or health-focused discussion portal has been created, Dintshang could be easily adapted to fit the context. If Dintshang were to be applied outside Botswana, it would be important for PING to partner with local content providers, potential users and other stakeholders to ensure that the Dintshang product remains top quality for wherever it’s being applied.

What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?

In the next year, PING hopes to have 1,000 registered users on Dintshang. In the following six months, PING will have compiled sufficient data on these users to be able to produce a telling report on user responses to Dintshang, how users are interacting on the platforms and how exposure to the site is related to changes in opinions and service seeking behavior. Within the next two years, PING hopes to tailor Dintshang to youth in Mozambique and launch the site along with other PING projects as one of the first initiatives of PING Mozambique. After three years, PING strives to have expanded Dintshang to a total of 4 countries and have reached a total of 10,000 active users.

Organization's Country of Operation

, Gaborone

Sustainability
Elaborate on your current financing strategy

PING currently receives two types of funding. General organizational funding, typically from individual donors, is not tied to any deliverable or product and is used to support the organization as a whole. This funding is used in PING’s capacity building, staff transportation, office costs and costs of PING’s youth mentorship program. Other funding is deliverable based, such as our project with the University of Pennsylvania in Botswana where we build a specific system for them and provide monthly the technical support for an oral health telemedicine program.

Typically, project development and piloting is funded by private sector and government partners, but PING’s ultimate goal in design and creation is always to treat local government as the customer and push pilots nationally after a successful pilot conclusion. PING also relies heavily on in-kind donations from partners, including HP and Mascom, to keep project costs at a minimum when testing in the pilot phase. In working with these private sector partners, part of PING’s strategy is to put together a business case proving that their contributions are building demand for their services and creating new markets for their products in a socially responsible way. PING’s for-profit sister organization, Develo, will contribute 20% of its profits to support PING as well, as Develo will benefit from being created with social responsibility and market building in mind. PING is considering moving its deliverable-based, fee for service, projects funding to be managed under Develo in the future.

Share of revenue generation in total income of organization (in percent)

65%

Direct sales to patients or other beneficiaries (in percent)

0%

Of the possible sources of these sales listed below, check all that apply to your current strategy

Licensing fees, e.g., for technology/franchise model (in percent)

7.5%

Of the possible sources of these licensing opportunities listed below, check all that apply to your current strategy

Private businesses.

Service contract with organizations, e.g., government, NGOs (in percent)

92.5%

Of the possible sources of the service contracts listed below, check all that apply to your current strategy

Foundations, NGOs.

Explain your revenue generation strategy in more detail

PING develops concepts for new health and technology solutions in partnership with interested development organizations or local governments. PING also seeks out contracts and funding opportunities to create solutions for Botswana government offices, local businesses and international organizations. PING brings in private sector partners early on to determine what they can donate in-kind and how this affects project costs. After technology and programmatic guidelines have been agreed upon, funding has been established and goals have been met, PING pilots its projects working closely with local government’s guidance and the support of local research institutions. At the end of a pilot. PING continues a local government partnership when projects go to tender, securing longer term funding.

Share of philanthropy in total income of organization (in percent)

35%

Philanthrophy strategies you are using

Diversified strategy.

Explain your philanthropic approach in more detail

PING seeks philanthropic support in a number of ways. First, PING’s philanthropic support includes individual donors who believe in the cause and foundations of the organization and support us because of our innovative business model and approach to health problems. Secondly, various PING receives support through the corporate social responsibility departments of some of our for-profit partners. This funding is not tied to any project, but to building capacity within the organization. Due to the recent economy, securing this type of unrestricted funding is becoming more difficult, creating an incentive for PING to diversify donors.

Expand on your selections; explain how you will sustain funding over the next 1-3 years.

In the next 1 to 3 years, PING will seek to prove our products’ health and cost efficiency and push them to tender. In April of 2013 PING is beginning to take this project from pilot stage to national scale (coverage of 100% of all health districts) with the Botswana MOH, who will be funding most of the national scale up. For this project, health care workers utilized smartphones, donated by HP, to complete weekly disease reports, which could then be sent to the Ministry of Health and visualized on a web platform almost instantly. Not only is this project being expanded to 100% country coverage but it will be expanding to include MDR and XDR TB in phase one and we hope to eventually use it for reporting of all 17 notifiable diseases in Botswana.

PING is also looking to move forward with new initiatives. The Dintshang project has received attention from a wide range of potential funders. PING is also looking to raise social venture capitol and others in the impact investing space to help prove our business model, and has had discussions with potential partners like the Acumen Fund. As PING expands, we will continue to partner with for-profit organizations who can provide in-kind donations and technical support, particularly telecommunications companies who operate in multiple countries and can support us as we expand. Income shared with the for-profit Develo will also contribute to PING’s longer term funding sustainability.

Years in Operation

Operating 1-5 years

Has the organization received awards or honors? Please tell us about them

PING has received the Partnership/Collective Action award from the Global Business Coalition Health (GBCHealth) Business Action on Health conference for our Disease Surveillance and Mapping Project that has identified nearly 100 potential outbreaks of malaria in the Chobe District of Botswana the past year and aided in limiting the potential for a serious disease outbreak. The winning Disease Surveillance and Mapping Project was the result of a public-private partnership between HP, Mascom, PING, CHAI, and the Ministry of Health (MoH) in Botswana to streamline data collection and analysis with the goal of improving the quality of disease surveillance. The Global Business Coalition Health Awards honor companies that "exemplify a spirit of innovation and dedication to outstanding achievements in global health."

PING also received one of the first four GAIN awards from the Global Adaptation Institute (GAIN), a non-profit organization guided by a vision of building resilience to climate change and other global forces as a key component to sustainable development. The prize was awarded for the Disease Surveillance and Mapping project as well, particularly for it’s innovative use of technology to support Botswana’s vulnerable health infrastructure.