Voces Bolivianas: Engaging Local Stakeholders For Wider Outreach

The Rising Voices micro grants (US$ 3,000 – 5,000) provide just enough incentive to get going with the citizen media outreach activities by the 17 local grantees across the world. But remarkably most of them have grown with own initiatives and gone miles thanks to their enthusiasm, creativity and local support. We have discussed earlier how some of the grantees have introduced creative ideas to sustain themselves and engage the local community more.

We have another example how the engagement of stakeholders like the local entrepreneurs can create more opportunities and even prompt wider outreach initiatives. On the 14th of December 2008 the ‘Bolivia Webprende’ or ‘the meet of the Web Entrepreneurs in Bolivia’ took place in La Paz. From
its website [es]:

Bolivia Webprende is an event that brings together entrepreneurs, businessmen and Bolivian web community in a forum to share experiences, ideas and projects. [machine translation]

Christina Quisbert, an active member of Voces Bolivianas who blogs at Bolivia Indigena, reports:

A combination of actors, Alberto Saavedra, Voces Bolivianas (Bolivian Voices) and Entel (the state telecommunications company) made it possible for a group of stakeholders interested in various facets of the web to gather this morning in the auditorium of Entel Bolivia in the city of La Paz. [machine translation]

Hugo Miranda of Voces Bolivianas project writes [es] about the context of the meet:

The idea is to learn a little about what other entrepreneurs from across the country are doing on the web..This event is not just for people who have their own website, their own company or their enterprise online, but also for people who have an idea and want to share.

Mario Duran notes:

On a personal level, this activity had an extra extra significance, “I would not have been at the event, if I didn't have a blog.”….

Participants of the event including Voces Bolivanas members. Image: Hugo Miranda

Hugo Miranda shares the experiences after the event. He mentions the initial idea was to do an an informal reunion to gather a few entrepreneurs who are doing interesting things in Internet but it turned out to be something phenomenal:

Thanks to ENTEL and Mario Duran (of Voces Bolivianas), things took a different path and it became a kind of BarCamp, and so what it became was a geek gathering, and it became a social gathering where we could see other things people are doing in terms of software in Bolivia.

About seventy people were present and why so that much turnout? Miranda notes that because the Voces Bolivianas team could be part of such great initiatives like Bloguivianos, blog outreach workshops of Voces Bolivianas, the Open source software Congress, the Campus Party etc., they have created a network of cyber activists and many of them came to participate.

Working Group 2.0 – Image: Voces Bolivianas

Hugo Miranda continues:

Something that is clear is that Webprende Bolivia is just the first step of something that just began. We intend to hold meetings every month if possible, do it in every department in Bolivia, launch contests on enterprise web, try to organize workshops, create revenue sources to support initiatives in Bolivia site, seek investors, generate social networks for the talks that began not just shut down … in the end there are a lot of ideas, suggestions that we are seeking these days, to begin to generate possible document on what we will do by 2009, something that became more clear:

We will not wait for the government or somebody else; we know what we can do here and now, that when the complaints have come and gone, that if we do not, nobody else will do it, at least not as we think.

Just as we did with Voces Bolivianas, as I did with my Blog of San Jose, as I do with my network of blogs, and everything else … [machine translation]

That is a bold statement and these efforts will set a role model of many such initiatives across the globe.

Pictures from the event can be found in Voces Bolivianas Flickr. For more updates from the bloggers of Voces Bolivianas check the highlights in Spanish, English and in Aymara languages.


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