COVID-19 will have many effects on our community – on our health, on our society and our economy. We believe that the tech community has the potential and obligation to play a key role in fighting these effects. We’ve set up a dedicated team that both identifies community and government projects that can make a difference, and helps drive them to make an impact.
Update: As of April 2021, OfferZen is no longer running Project Unlockdown. Thanks to all developers who signed up to projects over the past year, and helped us combat the effect of COVID-19 in our community!
In times of crisis, I’ve found that it helps massively to bring people together and share insights and learnings. As a team at OfferZen, we agreed that it would be useful to create communities around our specific areas of expertise - our events team, for example, has been running Zoom rooms with local conference and meetup organisers and I decided to start a WhatsApp group called “Win@COVID19” with fellow founders, investors and friends from corporates.
They were really keen to support each other and immediately started sharing papers, models and opinions. It also became clear that everyone in this group was determined to help curb the effects of COVID-19 on the tech industry and South Africa as a whole.
At the same time, an old friend from university, Professor Willem Fourie from the University of Pretoria, reached out to me on LinkedIn. Together with the NICD, he was working on a project to build a Vulnerable Communities Map and needed extra developers on board to make it happen. We put out a quick call to the founders group and the OfferZen community, and got a few volunteers to help out.
One week later, the map is already helping the government in their response to the health crisis by using publicly available data to identify vulnerable communities.
The effectiveness of the Vulnerability Map collaboration drew the attention of the Presidency. We were invited to visit the Union Buildings to explain who we are and how important the community is in the way we are working.
Based on this conversation, the government realised how critical it will be to collaborate with local tech companies and developers in this time of crisis. They have officially asked OfferZen to mobilise the tech industry to help:
“It is critical that the government works collaboratively with South African tech companies and individuals to leverage our tech capabilities in the fight against COVID-19 and its effects.”
Some of the things we’ve been asked to help with are:
- Identify suitable projects that can have a material impact on the government’s ability to respond to the crisis and implement an effective post-crisis economic response
- Distribute the request from government and the identified projects to the broader tech community to raise awareness and galvanize support
- Recruit and coordinate volunteers from this community for these projects
- Connect tech community members to relevant government partners as per their identified needs, as is feasible
That’s where you come in. We already have a list of projects in the pipeline that you can help with today. We are also working with government and community organisations to identify more initiatives that can make a material difference. You can volunteer for a project based on the requirements, or simply submit your details as someone who is willing to help.
We all need your help to protect our people and economy
OfferZen’s mission is to connect talent and opportunity. We’ve started with great work opportunities and are now adding a new type: The opportunity to play a part in protecting our people and keeping our economy growing in this time of crisis.