An open community active in the field of Free Open Source Software and Information and Communication Technology. Via vocational training and active involvement of Small to Medium Enterprises members obtain practical skills, knowledge and get access to job opportunities.
High unemployment rates, especially among young people create a pressing social and economic challenge. 25% of the youth are unemployed and the Ghanaian education system is inefficient and fails to prepare most of the young people to succeed on the job market. Unemployment causes tension between the North and the South of Ghana since Accra has more opportunities, economic migration and increases chances of criminal activities, feeling left out.
Tech Support offers vocational training to close the gap between theoretical and practical skills and builds capacity of youth locally to prevent job loss and economic migration. It is an alternative to costly and theoretical education for the youth in Tamale. At the same time, Tech Support is a trustworthy network of junior and senior technicians performing ICT assignments locally for SME and NGOs. Our innovative business model combines a cooperative approach and community principles enabling all members to participate in, contribute to, control, promote and benefit from self-made job opportunities through practical, on-the-job training. A fair, bottom-up and reality based initiative, achieving economic development upcountry.
Kelle Matthew comes from Nandom, a small town in the Ghanaian Upper West Region. Matthew moved to Tamale and gained admission to Tamale Polytechnic. His interest in computers drove Matthew to join Tech Support. Matthew took part in 2 courses related to website design and development. Within several weeks and without owning his own computer he not only completed the two courses, but engaged himself in a first commercial assignment. Working from an Internet café and using his friend’s laptop to present his final work, Matthew developed two project websites. Right now, he is one of the alumni of Tech Support and became an inspiring trainer, facilitating web development tracks for new members and supports business development.
Tech Support organized two serial FOSS tracks in 2013, trained over 25 members, developed 4 commercial and 12 individual websites. In 2014, 9 new tracks were initiated, 10 members developed a School Management Information System (SMIS) in collaboration with a (inter)national partners. In July 2013, a dozen young people gathered to learn more about website development. 90% were there for curiousity sake but did not believe they could ever develop their own websites. Three months down, Tech Support members developed three real life websites and make an income from it. They moved on to develop 12 more websites in the ensuing 9 months. The basic impact on the members of the group is that they now have a way to make income for themselves while gaining career skills. Beneficiary organisations also get low cost but high quality websites with solid technical support.
Full Impact Potential
In 12 months about 10 youngsters who originally did not believe they had the potential to design real websites have gone on to make an income by developing websites. Going on to learn content management systems, we have been able to win a contract to develop a web based school management system for 25 schools. Deployment is currently in 4 schools and will upscale to 25 schools in 2015 creating jobs for members. Next years we aim to train 300 members, create 280 jobs and scale to 2 other cities. Tech Support teaches young people skills and they immediately find a client to execute the project.
What Matthew says about Tech Support
Through Tech Support, I have gained a lot of knowledge from others and I have also met people I have never met before. I didn’t know how to develop a website on my own, but I joined and a few weeks later I got to understand the concepts of building a website using WordPress.
I am joining because it is not a temporary group with a single program. It is a permanent group coming up with more interesting programs. I believe that Tech Support helps you engage yourself in your own business or assignments for clients, so I think it can change my life positively and help me prepare for my your future.
Individuals, NGO, Clients
Tech Supports asks the members for a small contribution fee to cover the costs for the tracks and necessary materials. Financial motivation to work on commercial assignments comes from local NGO’s and enterprises (or clients). The costs to cover the start-up phase (investment, business development, project management, coaching) comes in through fundraising. These start-up costs are high but will eventually stabilized and minimized.
The Worldbank recently launced a map with over 90 tech hubs in Africa. A tech hub is a center of activity and can be described as a playground for innovation. Most of the hubs represented on this map belong to the AfriLabs network and have compairable elements, regarding Tech Support Ghana but are based in capital cities and focus mainly on entrepreneurship while Tech Support actively acts as a matchmaker between youth and market demand.