Michael’s 2018 DOT Unconference Experience

DOT Unconference 2018

Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT) hosted its annual DOT Unconference themed Inclusivity: Bridging gender and social barriers in Nairobi, Kenya. From the 17th to the 19th of October, over 100 youth representing 13 countries were in Nairobi sharing, connecting and learning from each other and a chance to showcase their social innovations.

DOT Unconference Swag

DOT Youth from around the world arrived in Nairobi Kenya between the 15th and 16th of October for the DOT Unconference. On the 17th, the DOT Unconference was opened by DOT Kenya Country Director Esther Gathigi and DOT Founder and CEO Janet Longmore.

In her opening remarks Esther Gathigi said, “Inclusivity is an everyday mindset journey”.

Janet Longmore said, “Zero barriers for social innovators everywhere: that’s the vision. We’re going to get you there. We need you to be a part of it.”

(Left) DOT Kenya’s Country Director Esther Gathigi, (Right) DOT Founder and CEO Janet Longmore during the opening plenary

DOT Founder and CEO Janet Longmore and DOT Kenya Country Director Esther Gathigi co-hosted an opening plenary recorded live. The opening panel featured a fire-side style conversation with daring social innovators who were part of the Unconference last year and had gone on to have impressive impact in their communities.

Opening plenary panel discussion with (L to R) Janet Longmore, Daliah Akileh, George Akilimali, Aisha Abdulkadir and Esther Gathigi

After the opening plenary and social innovation showcase, DOT Youth participated in youth-led andpartner-led sessions. Encouraging youth to take part in experiential lessons and group sharing activities. The sessions were interactive as youth were involved in various activities and formats including world cafe, performance, idea storm and creation sessions.

Social Innovation Showcase

Various youth from the DOT Youth network had a chance to showcase their social enterprises/innovations to their fellow peers, invited guests and organizations during the DOT Unconference.

The DOT Unconference Social Innovation showcase

Day 1 — Sessions attended

  1. Media training and pitching your innovation — DIAL (Digital Impact Alliance) — where I learned how to communicate my vision and to pitch effectively. Also how to capture the attention of your audience during pitching. What came up clear for me during this session was the 10–20–30 Rule for PowerPoint:
  • 10 slides are the optimal number to use for a presentation.
  • 20 minutes is the longest amount of time you should speak.
  • 30 point font is the smallest font size you should use on your slides.

2. Leveraging your mobile phone to measure impact — importance of measuring impact and how to develop surveys. During this session we dived deep into KoBo collect (simple, robust and powerful tools for data collection) as a tool for data collection. We also looked at various ways on how to frame questions for questionnaires.

Game Night

We played a lot of games from Chase, Scrabble, Ajua, etc. Musical chairs was the game that almost every youth was involved in!

Game night

Sessions attended

  1. Developing mobile games — learn the steps of developing mobile games. We also looked at creativity when developing games as we did group activities to come up with various games.

2. Rope-making and the environment — This is one of the most exciting sessions that I attended as it was hands on from start of the session where we made ropes using plastic bags. We also shared various opinions on how people use plastic bags to make them productive from other parts of the world.

3. Innovation and leadership — we looked at platforms that enhance innovation among youth and women. Challenges faced by women in leadership and how health insurance improved maternal health.

4. Using open innovation collaboration in waste management to scale and maximize impact — we looked at key stakeholders of waste management in town and cities and how we can make them more responsible in terms of handling and disposing waste.

Social Innovation Meet and Greet

At this speed networking session, groups of DOT youth delegates had an opportunity to meet with several professionals to ask questions and learn about their social innovation journeys.

  1. Anne Patterson (Senior Manager, Communications and Digital Engagement at DOT) — learned a lot from her wide experience in communication and digital marketing. She also gave us tips on how we could succeed in communication and digital marketing.

2. Ato Ulzen-Appiah (founder Ghana Think) — I was inspired by his journey and the strides he had made. We also discussed challenges we are likely to face as social entrepreneurs/innovators.

Ato Ulzen-Appiah — Founder Ghana Think (meet and greet)

Karaoke Night

Lots of music and fun! As some of DOT Youth showcased there talents and skills.


Sessions Attended

  1. Co-creating a digital space for social innovators — user experience on Innojo (Innovation Journey). We looked at the new platform for social entrepreneurs/innovators (Innojo), especially the UI/UX and offered our feedback as social innovators.


Innojo platform was launched during the DOT Unconference.


Innojo is a platform that will help social entrepreneurs to build their identity as social innovators/supporters. Connecting with other young social innovators and supporters from around the world to collaborate and support each other in learning and overcoming challenges. Youth can also be able to share and discuss tools and resources that have helped them on their journey. They will get inspired and inspire each other by sharing their progress.

2. Skills for the future: developing digital skills — We learned more on the skills required for the future especially in the digital space, a session run by IBM.

3. Mental health: collaborations and partnership — how we can create a collaborative approach on dealing with mental health, by engaging the community to create an open sharing culture thereby changing the perception of mental health.

Closing Plenary

We did a recap in groups on what we had learnt over the three days and the new ideas/opinions/perceptions that came up. The various group leaders did a presentation on the youth delegates’ findings. Then, Ivy Barley, delegate at the 2017 DOT Unconference and founder of Developers in Vogue shared her inspiring journey with DOT Youth.

Ivy Barley — “If you want to go far, include! If you want to go fast, exclude!” watch the entire Closing Plenary here. DOT Kenya country director Esther Gathigi then gave closing remarks.

Ivy Barley

Cultural Night

DOT Youth showcased skits, songs, poems and dances from their cultures. Cultural night was astonishing, so many beautiful cultures and traditions from all over the world were represented.

DOT Youth during cultural night

I learned a lot from the youth led sessions, social innovation showcase and meet the founder session. I made more friends and future partners from the event. Hats off to Digital Opportunity Trust for giving youth around the world this opportunity.

DOT Youth

#DOTUnconf #DOTYouth

Quora: Michael Anjia |Twitter:@michalanjia |Instagram:@michaelanjia

Medium: Michael Anjia