Founded in 2013 and based in Cameroon, Voila Foundation was created to help the people of Sub-Saharan Africa access and utilize emerging technologies that have become commonplace in the Western world. This organization aims to reach some of the most underserved people in the world with all of the positive benefits of technology, including education and healthcare. Voila Foundation generally works by taking a “project management” perspective to a greater task, ensuring that decision makers and in some instances, suppliers, are linked directly with the communities they are aiming to serve.
Voila Foundation’s founder Killian Mayua has traveled the world extensively, and believes that the technology experienced by European and American countries does not have to be isolated.
He sees the attraction to Africa as a valuable emerging market, leading to many opportunities that otherwise may not have been possible. However, he understands that for Africa to be a valuable investment, it has to become a connected region. In creating Voila Foundation, Mayua hopes to not only prepare as many people as possible for this technological opportunity when it comes; but also to help speed up the process of investment. He also believes that while this is occurring, local communities can also reap the short-term benefits of technological advancement.
While Voila Foundation is a relatively young organization, their first year demonstrated that determination and hard work can achieve noticeable changes, even with limited time and resources. One of the most notable impacts can be seen in the organization’s use of technology in the micro-finance sector Together, they partnered withNtambeng Credit Union Micro-finance Bank to help local people receive laptops (plus internet) via small loans from the bank. As project Managers of nvDiP (www.nvdip.org), Voila Foundation ensured that the laptops were paid for and received by the correct people, while also ensuring that they met the lending requirements as set by the banks. This shows how much of an impact that a single organization can have, even without corporate sponsorship or recognition. “The people are starting to believe that you can do more with less in this environment” Mayua explains. He further emphasizes the symbol of hope that the laptops represent – not only for the people, but also their future and the future of Voila Foundation.
Mayua realizes that technology can be utilized in a number of different ways to help a wider spectrum of people throughout Africa. For some communities, the rapid response offered by mobile phones to medical professionals such as doctors and nurses can mean the difference between sickness and health. For other communities, laptops and tablets help the children become more literate – with both technology and the written word. Mayua takes education very seriously, and with his efforts he has also created a software program called VoilaPrep that can be installed on smartphones and other internet enabled devices. Voila Prep is a series of games designed to help children have a more thorough preparation for the national GCSE exams that are administered annually.
Voila Foundation works hard to encourage volunteering from young professionals to help establish a place for, and familiarity with technology. Mayua finds that the “spirit of entrepreneurship” present in this demographic emboldens others to take the first steps to changing their environment by embracing and pursuing technology. He also uses his own networking and professional experience to help further the success and funding of the foundation. He used his positive attitude and professional demeanor to raise over $200,000 for the foundation in its opening year. “We are young and we want to cover the whole world” explains Mayua; and their initial successes indicate that he is on track.
Mayua’s unrelenting quest to help get people online has proved successful so far, with over 400 people becoming connected due to Voila Foundation’s effort. He believes that creating connectivity at the grassroots level will encourage future investors and businesses – on both an African and international level, bringing money and prosperity to the region. However, he does acknowledge that this is a long, slow process – and encourages others to take part in their local regions to help in the ways that they can. Mayua looks at his own experiences to inspire others in this endeavor. “I have an opportunity to touch people directly. I also have real-time feedback from people – I get to see people’s lives being transformed” he explains.
As an organization designed around and by emerging technologies, Voila Foundation takes full advantage of the opportunities offered by connectivity, and the communication that arises from it. “Without our website, I doubt we would even be talking” Mayua explains with a laugh, when asked about how technology has helped to shape this organization. And he is correct; websites and technology have allowed not only Mayua, but many other similar organizations to organize, communicate, fundraise, and much, much more – all with participants located throughout the world. “People in other countries get to see what we are doing and give us ideas, opening us up much more” says Mayua. This global forum has helped Voila Foundation to demonstrate through practice how important connectivity and embracing new technologies can be to the success of an organization – no matter the goal.
Voila Foundation demonstrates how much of an impact organizations can have – even in a short period of time. Through Mayua and the foundation’s work, more people are now connected in Africa – allowing technology and the ripple effect it has to start influencing communities that otherwise would not have access to it. What this means for Mayua is that the process has just begun, and will continue to grow and gain momentum from supporters on a local and international level. Through his hard work and dedication, Voila Foundation and its supporters may continue to do just that – and all the while bringing connectivity to all of the regions that they touch.
Learn more about their activities at VoilaFoundation.org