The First Web Foundation began as a full-service communications initiative legally registered in Malawi in 2006 under the “Business Names Act”.
It started as a team of communication professionals that commenced its operations in India in 2003 only as an online business entrepreneurship founded and managed by a young volunteer to develop websites for non-profit civil society organizations/groups in India and Malawi respectively.
The volunteer, George Mwika Kayange, a Malawian by nationality, was at the time working as a media intern for one year (November 2002 – November 2003) in the Communication Department for an international organization known as the Global March Against Child Labour, in New Delhi, India.
The rationale then was to set up the First Web Foundation as an Income Generating Activity (IGA) to fundraise for the establishment of an NGO that he founded in Malawi, the Child Rights Information and Documentation Centre (CRIDOC). Established in 2004, CRIDOC seeks to help create access to information on children and youth rights and related issues in the country.
While at the onset the main speciality was to provide consultancy support for civil society organizations in online communication, First Web Foundation eventually expanded its focus to other areas of communication, such as the production of TV/video documentaries, production of radio documentaries, public relations, media strategy development, just to mention a few. A significant part of the proceeds realized from these consultancies had contributed considerably towards the growth of CRIDOC.
Where Are We Now?
Noting that the fundraising mission for CRIDOC had quite been fulfilled (as the NGO can now stand on its own feet), yet many nonprofit organisations (CSOs, NGOs, FBOs, CBOs, OPDs, etc.) especially in sub-Sahara Africa continue to face mammoth challenges in effectively leveraging the power of the new web and mobile-based technologies which keep on changing all the time, the process to start registering First Web Foundation as a fully-fledged non-profit organization began in 2019.
The current situation is such that the countless opportunities mobile and web technologies bring to the work of nonprofits are not being fully exploited, yet ICT for Development (ICT4D) can contribute significantly towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) globally, including in sub-Sahara Africa.
It was, therefore, on this basis that the founder, George Mwika Kayange, solicited the support of three other entrepreneurial-minded colleagues in South Africa.
The three – Simon Manda, Mpho Given Mahlatsi, and Pumza Makanya – worked incredibly hard to have First Web legally registered on 05 September 2019, under the Nonprofit Organization Act, 2017, of South Africa August 2019 as Nonprofit Organization (NPO), Registration Number 234-604 NPO.
Simon, Mpho and Pumza are the Registered Trustees of the organization, whereas George proudly acts as a volunteer Technical Adviser when needed.
The First Web team believed there is no need to start something completely new, or what others term “reinventing the wheel!” Rather, it would make more sense to simply build and improve on what already exists by simply redefining and repositioning the First Web Foundation.
For this reason, part of the rebranding of the First Web Foundation involved refocusing and repositioning the organisation to serve the nonprofit sector better. Refocusing and repositioning in this context entailed redefining its mission, vision and objectives so that it became more relevant to the work of the nonprofits in Africa; and migrating from a profit-making initiative focused mainly in Malawi to a charitable organisation focused on addressing the online/digital needs of the non-profit organizations at a regional level.
As opposed to the previous approaches, this time around the First Web Foundation is putting more energy into helping smaller nonprofits that have meagre resources, but with bigger ideas and ambitions – as opposed to working with only those nonprofits that have the resources to outsource. We have transitioned from the concept of “service provision” to one that emphasizes “empowerment”.
Currently, there are not many such specialised charitable initiatives, especially in Africa, established to support other nonprofits to achieve their respective goals through raising awareness (literacy) about these web and mobile technologies. First Web Foundation, therefore, seeks to fill this yawning gap.