In June 2019, the sharing economy platform ComuniDAS won the Popular Vote during the Society For International Development-Washington Chapter (SID-Washington) Innovation Competition held in Washington, D.C. ComuniDAS – a combination of two Spanish words, comunidad (community) and dar (giving) – is a collaborative economy platform intended for civil society organizations and other social good actors created by the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) Hub of Innovation for Change (I4C).
“ComuniDAS is giving an opportunity to NGOs in LAC to consider alternative funding models so they’re not so dependant on traditional donors,” said Gerardo Torres, point of contact for LAC, who told the story of ComuniDAS and its purpose to the SID participants. Torres presented ComuniDAS using this presentation and video.
The conference brought together members of the SID community, an international network that focuses on sustainable economic, social and political development,where more than 800 international development professionals attended the event. This year’s conference featured a competition among five projects to present innovative solutions leading to social impact in civil society.
The ComuniDAS platform was launched in June 2017 to act as a “matchmaker” of sorts and to help connect civil society to the untapped resources that exist in the region. The online platform provides a space for its members to publish about different products and services they have available and anyone who needs those resources can connect with those members. ComuniDAS meets several needs, including increasing solidarity among civil society organizations (CSOs), and countering the effects of restrictive governments blocking access to funding for CSOs in the region, state users of the platform..
During the SID conference presenters who participated in the innovation competition pitch their projects over two rounds. During the first round, participating teams presented the vision, target audience, partners, financial and social impact of their projects. The presenters were then evaluated by a group of judges who selected the following five projects to advance to the second phase:
- ACDI/VOCA: The ACDI/VOCA Data Collector aka DB Buddy (Video)
- Innovation for Change, Latin America and the Caribbean Hub: ComuniDas: a collaborative economy platform created by civil society for civil society
- Cycle Technologies: Dot™ (Teaser)
- Nathan Associates: M-Access
- Save the Children: Youth Activate! Myanmar (Video)
In the second round, representatives from each of the five projects presented to conference participants at tables duringInnovation Gallery, sponsored by Accenture. participants could then vote for the most innovative project. More than 400 people voted, and ComuniDAS was the project that received the most votes.
This award will, hopefully, help ComuniDAS to expand its reach and connect organizations with each other to increase their effectiveness in the entire social sector. In LAC ComuniDAS has helped to attract diverse actors – something that it hopes will continue as the LAC members actively search for investors for the next phase of ComuniDAS’ development. The vision is that it drives more private sector engagement. Additionally, ComuniDAS is, currently, being re-created in Arabic and adapted to the Middle East and North African context by the hub there.
ComuniDAS reflects the LAC Hub’s larger commitment to create a diverse ecosystem of actors that support and strengthen CSOs and civic space. It is one solution to solve some of the main challenges faced by civil society in LAC, including distrust, lack of funding, and access to information. ComuniDAS and the LAC Hub are becoming a “go-to place” for social activism, providing a platform for different sectors to come together to solve common challenges and offering traditional NGOs new alternatives to address problems such as lack of funding, digital security threats, and difficulties to establish partnerships. Through ComuniDAS a new culture of collaboration to address these challenges is being practiced in small bits of giving and sharing.