As we come to the end of 2010 we have so much to be thankful for at RLabs and what a year it has been. We’ve gone through many changes and experienced so much growth in the projects and work we involved in. This was also the year RLabs registered as an official non-profit in South Africa with the hope of growing the work started in Cape Town to the rest of the world. Below we share some of the highlights for 2010 and how we enjoyed the explosion of this year:


The year started with a bang as we grew the RLabs Team and also launched our training and consulting programme, The Social Media Factory. This programme would provide employment opportunities for community members who’s done the Social Media training through RLabs. It was also the day when the first Social Media Surgery was launched in Africa at a local shopping complex on the Cape Flats.


This was also the year where we added more skills empowerment courses and it included the Mobile Journalism Programme in partnership Cape Community Newspapers, Social Media training with Health Care Workers and training with Non-profits. We also launched our Twitter Schools where we showed community members the power of Twitter for community upliftment. We continued with our social media programmes with youth at risk, senior citizens, women and the reconstructed. RLabs also featured on The Digital Edge where some of the team were showcased during the programme.


Jamiix - Social Change
Jamiix - Social Change

As the year progressed we commercialised our first product, JamiiX, with the hope of taking the product global. JamiiX was also an example of how grassroots innovation can be transformed into a commercial product to sustain work at a grassroots level. JamiiX was launched in June this year with subsequent launches in Finland, Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Since its launch JamiiX have Department of Social Development (Western Cape), National AIDS Helpline and World Health Organisation using its services. RLabs also featured in an international publication by COFISA and was represented in Finland as part of a knowledge exchange programme hosted by SAFIPA. SAFIPA also gave JamiiX a grant of $200,000 to ensure its sustainability.


RLabs also started its training and consulting services through the Social Media Factory and April this year we had the privilege of managing the Social Media for the World Bank at an Innovation Event in Cape Town. The event was a wonderful opportunity for the RLabs Community to showcase its Social Media skills and to partner with the World Bank. Since then RLabs also provided Social Media services to a number of organisations and Higher Education Institutions. This was also a wonderful month for us as we’ve surpassed the 50,000 users barrier providing mobile phone support services for people across South Africa using our JamiiX platform and in partnership with MXit.


A partnership with Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) produced a mobile application, Kujali, that assists home-based health care workers in communities. Kujali also won an award at a major ICT conference in Africa for best demonstration. A collaboration with Silulo Ulutho Technologies saw the beginning of a great relationship of possibly starting a RLabs in Khayelitsha. The RLabs team trained their facilitators in the use of Social Media for educational purposes. RLas also received an invite from the WORLD BANK to present how we are using technology to empower communities at their Global Youth Forum in Zambia.


It was a big month for South Africa with the Football World Cup but also for RLabs as we officially launched JamiiX in Cape Town. It was also a busy month in the media because we had the BBC Digital Planet and E.TV Tech Report visiting us at RLabs where we shared some of the stories of the team and how we a leveraging Social Media for Social Change. Our Mobile Support services also reached 130,000 users and we saw an increase in number of conversations through the use of our JamiiX system.


A getaway with the core team was the basis for new Vision and Mission statements considering the global focus of RLabs. We also welcomed the new board of directors to the RLabs family and great excitement for the future. Partnerships with a Gauteng based group, MobieG, to provide a life skills mobile counselling services and the Youth Research Network provided us the opportunity to expand our services and partnerships to other parts of the world. We also received positive reviews from the Western Cape provincial government for the work we’ve been doing through our mobile support services.


Jamiix was launched in Europe and the first international RLabs Social Franchise was opened in Porto, Portugal. These exciting events was the start to a new type of RLabs that we never anticipated. Our skills empowerment projects continued growing from strength to strength with a new Social Media for Social Change programme being launched for the community. RLabs was also invited to the International Digital Transformation conference in Portugal where we shared how we use digital media for social change.


RLabs were the Social Media partners at an International Sports Conference hosted by the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and received an award of excellence for their contribution to the event. RLabs presented at the One Percent Event and presented at theTEDxChange programme in the Netherlands where the possibility of a RLabs Netherlands was established in partnership with the Amsterdam School of Business. However, one of the highlights was when it was announced that RLabs and one of its programmes (She’s The Geek) won at the South African Blog Awards. We won awards for the Best Group Blog, Best Company Blog and Best Science and Technology Blog at a very prestigious awards ceremony in Cape Town.


The launch of JamiiX in the United Kingdom was a great event with RLabs generating interest in a possible franchise opportunity in Southampton. RLabs was also a finalist and runner up for an international BEES award for best use of mobile being a true testament to how our work has reached a global market. We also had our first graduation for the home-based care social media training programme in partnership with Cape Peninsula University of Technology.


The RLabs mobile support services reached 200,000 users and in celebrating this achievement we extended our services into Africa providing information and counselling services. In partnership with the Amsterdam School of Business RLabs hosted a group of Executive Masters Students where they assisted us in developing the new RLabs business model. We also featured at the TEDxAmsterdam event in the Netherlands with a great response from the audience and organizers. We also decided that we will be moving into a new space where we will have the first official RLabs Global head quarters.


With the year coming to a close we still had much to do and one of our team members were representing RLabs at the Africa-EU ICT Summit in Helsinki, Finland but it was also one of our favorite times of the year, being our annual graduation. This year we wanted to make sure our graduation is bigger and bolder than before and the team did not disappoint. We had more than 35 graduates in total with a number of people receiving special prizes for their contribution to the classes during the year. We were also excited when we broke the 250,000 user mark through our mobile support services and expanding our work in partnership with MXit and World Health Organisation into Indonesia. We also started preparation for our new RLabs in the Eastern Cape with training in Grahamstown.

Looking back 2010 has been a year filled with many highs and we are truly thankful for everyone who has made this year so special. With such a great year behind us we are looking forward to taking RLabs Global to the next level always changing the lives of people through Innovation.

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