We are Praekelt.Org

Context is everything. Words and terms like handicapped, poor and third world were once commonplace in our field, used without any appreciation of the value judgements attached to them. Now we know better. Rather than describing what we do as providing services to the poor, we work with communities to build their capacity.

In India, your name alone can signify your religion, caste, and place of origin. Often, women carry their father’s name as their middle name, and have to change their name in marriage. Changing your name in this context becomes a political act, one that I embraced when I left home for college, and one which many Indian women embrace to be seen as separate from their families.

Our organization was founded by Gustav Praekelt in South Africa 2007 as the offspring of the digital marketing and design agency which also bore his name, Praekelt Consulting. The word Foundation was used to distinguish us from our for-profit sister company, but at the time it was hard to imagine that less than ten years later we would grow to be as large as Praekelt Consulting, running as many projects, staffed by a globally-distributed team with diverse backgrounds.

Now, the word Foundation no longer describes who we are. We operate entirely independently from Praekelt Consulting. The funding for our projects comes not from Gustav Praekelt or a generous endowment, but from partners like UNICEF, USAID, Johnson & Johnson, Ford Foundation and UNFPA.

As we embark on a new period in the growth of our organization the time has come to change our name to more clearly communicate who we are. Retaining the word Praekelt allows us to retain our heritage. While the addition of .org communicates our commitment to social change and our identity as an organization that develops digital technologies.

In addition to changing our name we’re also entering a new stage of development across our products and projects. This includes launching our first batch of sites built by our Free Basics Incubator graduates. We are expanding Tune Me — our youth sexual and reproductive health platform — to four new countries, and also recently launched the first chatbot for maternal health in Africa.

These projects represent the beginnings of the ambitious and innovative work we are preparing for over the next few years. By changing our name we have the opportunity to introduce or even re-introduce ourselves to existing and potential partners. We hope you take the time to get to know us again.

– Ambika Samarthya-Howard, Head of Communications


Originally published at blog.praekeltfoundation.org.