In 2010, I had an opportunity to do a Networked Nonprofit workshop in Kenya. That’s where I met Zawadi Nyong’o, a young Kenyan woman and social change activist.
After the workshop, I hung out with participants providing some coaching. Zawadi had just discovered Twitter, but had not started to use it regularly. We did a little coaching. Ever since I’ve kept in touch with her over Twitter. Zawadi has launched her own consulting firm and works with African nonprofits and social change activists on their social media and crowd funding campaigns.
Zawadi shared her most recent crowdfunding campaign, probably one of the most successful in Kenya, raising over $71,000 in a couple of days, to help a 24 year old brain cancer patient Emmanuel Otieno (pictured above and known as Jadudi) to get surgery in India.
When Otieno learned he needed a fourth surgery for his cancer, he reached out to Zawadi Nyong’o who was also an Africa Cancer Foundation volunteer. Zawadi asked Jadudi’s favorite blogger, Jackson Biko, to publish the story on his blog, and developed a social media crowdfunding strategy to engage the public and drive traffic to the blog.
The #1MilliForJadudi campaign was launched on August 4th, 2015, with the goal to mobilize Kenyans to raise 1 million Kenya Shillings (approx USD 10,000) to help finance Jadudi’s fourth surgery in India. The #1MilliForJadudi campaign went viral within hours of launching it, and by the end of day 1, had raised more than the initial $10,000 goal. Within 3 days, about $71,000 had been raised for Jadudi’s medical expenses, by Kenyans all over the country who contributed amounts from as little as $1. This money was donated via MPESA (mobile money) contributions.
This is yet another example of what Pew Internet research director Lee Rainey has called “Networked Individualism.” In generations past, people typically had small, tight social networks, where a few important family members, close friends, neighbors, and community groups constituted the safety net and support system for individuals.
But with the rise of the Internet, social media, and mobile phones, personal networks are looser and broader. Those people can provide “on-demand” help. Networked Individualism lets people take care of their own needs through the generosity of their far-flung networks. This campaign is a great example.
To better understand why this campaign was successful, the Africa Cancer Foundation conducted donor research and prepared this report.
- Most donors were from Nairobi
- 50% had never participated in a crowd funding campaign
- 50% heard about the campaign via Twitter
- 77% knew someone who had been diagnosed with cancer
Zawadi, now a Twitter influencer in Kenya and beyond, started the campaign on Twitter, while it was simultaneously launched on Biko’s blog. It quickly spread to other social media platforms – Facebook and Instagram. It also got picked up by the mainstream media in Kenya.
In Zawadi’s words: “Crowdfunding is much like a bushfire. It may start in a small area, but with the wind blowing in the right direction, and nothing standing in the way of the fire, it spreads fast. In the case of this campaign, it spread so fast that we had to intentionally stop it. I don’t think anyone has ever tried to raise money in Kenya and asked people to stop contributing because they had surpassed their goals.”
The #1MilliForJadudi campaign has also been a catalyst for crowdfunding in Kenya, as Zawadi says there has been a new crowdfunding campaign launched almost every day since. Zawadi Nyong’o knows that crowdfunding is not as simple as telling a story and sharing it on social media. “It involves both strategic planning and elements that are sometimes beyond our control.” She is working on a providing training for organizations and activists in Kenya to learn how to launch successful campaigns.
She has big plans for her next campaign. “Ultimately, I want to do a massive crowdfunding campaign for the African Cancer Foundation to build a public state-of-the-art cancer center in Kenya. Our big dream is to provide services that benefit hundreds of thousands of cancer patients in Kenya.”
I have no doubt she will succeed!