On Friday 27th March 2009 I was given the go ahead on a new and very exciting project – the Betavine Social Exchange (BSX).  The project is funded as part of the Vodafone Group Social Investment Fund, which seeks to enable access to communications in emerging markets.

The approval follows months of discussion around the concept culminating in a series of meetings in Cape Town with NGOs and in Johannesburg with Vodacom.  Whilst in the Cape Town area I had the great honour of being invited to speak at the launch of Living Labs in Southern Africa – which exists to ” support the growth of a community of Living Lab researchers in Southern Africa and ultimately, in Africa.”  A living lab is about working with local people to solve real world problems.

LLiSA Launch in Stellenbosch, SA

The BSX concept is simple enough, creating a space on the web where problem owners can meet solution providers from the mobile space.  However, I am anticipating many challenges ahead with defining the requirements and building a website (part of Betavine) that meets the users needs and encourages participation.

I have decided to try something new … to blog about the project as it unfolds.  This is a little scary as I do not know how the project will run or whether it will ultimately prove successful.  What I do know is that the concept alone has ignited a great deal of interest and passion around Vodafone and its partners and so I am confident that we will deliver something of value.

During the research phase of this project we have already gathered some key requirements and so next week we will start by pulling these together in some coherent form.  We will also work with the Living Labs in Southern Africa community to test our ideas and requirements with those that will be piloting the concept in South Africa.