Grassroot's set of simple tools, available through any type of phone, allows community members to interact with government, organisations or even other stakeholders. This includes the arrangement of large-scale meetings, identification of volunteers and even taking community votes. The platform has over 300 000 users and a few thousand activities run through it per month with a team of three people.
"It also allowed people to participate in national conversations, access information and register their voice, in ways that otherwise they couldn't." Call and participate in votes to decide among priorities. It gives everyone with any phone a quick and anonymous say and sends the results back to them as soon as the poll closes.
"As one example, prior to Grassroot, if someone wanted to call a community gathering, they had to hire a guy to go around on a bakkie the whole morning with a megaphone telling people about the meeting. A WhatsApp group wouldn't work because still about half of people in informal settlements don't have smartphones, or are usually out of data, and WhatsApp groups have size limits. So either you exclude people, or you have to incur the costs of the bakkie and the fuel and so on, and still if someone isn't home when the bakkie drives past, they won't know about the meeting." With Grassroot, all of that is reduced to a 30-second menu flow on USSD, and thousands of people get notified.
Access is via plain USSD, and Android app or their website. But I'm not seeing any iOS app which is interesting.