Ubuntu at Work: Skill-building and Self-help Community Organization


Ubuntu at Work is a social enterprise that helps women micro entrepreneurs around the world.  Many of the women micro entrepreneurs that they collaborate with have no craft skills or other marketable skills before they join the Ubuntu at Work community.  With the assistance of field staff and volunteers around the world, the Ubuntu team works with women to gain new capabilities, collaboratively develop green products and assist in marketing these products around the world.  These products include organic fiber bags, organic produce, embroidered fabric items and screen printed items.

A unique aspect of Ubuntu at Work is that a significant portion of their products are sold through high volume orders through retailers.  They are known for producing bags for duty-free shops at several Indian aiports including the Bengaluru airport.



About Ubuntu at Work:  http://ubuntuatwork.org/about.php

Ubuntu At Work’s Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/ubuntuatwork



1.  Stronger platform for community engagement:  Ubuntu at Work is constantly striving to connect to more volunteers and interested members of the community.  They want blog posts to spark conversations.  To facilitate engagement, they have online volunteering activities that can be done via computer.  They are also looking to increase college student group engagement with the organization and develop systems to connect women micro entrepreneurs with mentors in a manner that is easy for all users.

Ubuntu At Work would like an app for their organization centered around community building.  At this time, the Ubuntu website is set up to enable interested parties to sign up and participate in “point-earning” tasks.  The final app does not have to use the point system to spark development.  However, it will ultimately facilitate the following objectives and allow for more people to engage with Ubuntu at Work and its network of women micro entrepreneurs.

Community Building Challenges:

  • Engage more people in online volunteering tasks

  • Encourage people to participate in blog post driven dialogues

  • Attract student groups to develop volunteer projects with Ubuntu at Work

  • Develop a platform for engage returned volunteers (e.g. Peace Corps, Americorps, Indicorps, WorldTeach) to develop long-term online-based mentoring relationships with women micro entrepreneurs.


Current Online Volunteering Activities:  http://ubuntuatwork.org/volunteer_jobs.php

Ubuntu At Work Blog:  http://ubuntuatwork.org/blog.php

Ubuntu At Work Volunteering and Points System:  http://ubuntuatwork.org/volunteer.php


2.  Design e-store interface:  Although the majority of Ubuntu at Work’s orders are large-volume wholesale orders, Ubuntu is looking to increase sales in two manners:

  • Increase online retail sales during the holiday season

  • Find new ways of engaging with corporate customers

Although there is already an online retail platform, can you think of a new design scheme to meet the above goals? How can the Ubuntu at Work women best showcase their work online?


Healing Fields Foundation


The Situation

Healing Fields Foundation (HFF) is a not for profit organization and has provided a one year
health education training program to over a thousand local village women and given them tools
to impact the health behaviors of their families and their communities. Plans are to scale this to
about 5000 in the next 5 years. With help from HFF, many of these Community Health
Facilitators (CHFs) use their new knowledge and skills to educate the community on health
issues, sanitation, hygiene, government programs in Health and also to create livelihoods in the
healthcare sector providing goods and services. What results is a network of women making an
impact on the ground level and at the same time earning a living doing it.

The Problem

CHFs provide the last mile connectivity to the communities in which they live. Through these
women HFF gets a firsthand understanding of what the health status of their villages. We
collect data from them during the program via surveys and receive constant feedback through
our field staff. This is a labor intensive process and it takes a while before information gets back
to HFF’s main office where it can be together and made sense of in bigger picture. Of particular
interest is the need for CHFs to report spikes in the number and frequency of a particular
disease. They don’t have a quick and reliable means of getting that information to people who
can help address the issue before it becomes a serious community problem.
Additionally, CHFs can use support in the field. When people come to them with symptoms,
sometimes CHFs could use help figuring out what is wrong and refer them to the relevant health
providers which could save time and money and at times even save lives.

The Challenge

CHFs have access to mobile phones. These are basic phones that have voice and SMS, but not
data capabilities. The challenge is to create a system that uses these phones to connect CHFs to
HFF so that they can provide information on their communities and get health decision-making
support. The system needs to be fully automated or semi-automated. It must be kept in mind
that CHFs are functionally literate but not used to technical or complicated processes. The
program must be designed in a manner that it is simple to use, work in areas where there is
limited access to data networks and at the same time can be translated into multiple

Contact Information


Teenage Menstrual Health

Ayna Agarwal is a Symbolic Systems undergraduate major at Stanford (class of 2014). She is a co-founder of she++, Stanford’s first conference on women in technology. You can find out more about she++ at http://sheplusplus.stanford.edu/.

Ayna wants to pose the following challenge.


Teens do not have an easily accessible, and reliable way of obtaining information about their periods while on the go. They do not feel a sense of community and often do not have a support system to ask relevant questions.


• A period tracker that acts as a daily educational tool and myth buster based on the individual female’s data and determine trends unique to her menstrual cycle to be able to provide relevant feedback
• A community of sisters to ask and answer bold and candid questions

Mobile Market and Girls

• Pew Research Center, “Teens and Technology 2013” a new survey of 802 teens, ages 12-17, and their parents:
– 78% of teens now own a smartphone
– 71% of teens with home computer access say the laptop or desktop they use most often is the one they share with their family members
– Older girls are especially likely to be cell-mostly internet users
– 34% of girls ages 14-17 say they mostly go online using their cell phone

• Neilsen Company: The percentage of US smartphone owners in the 18-24-year-old bracket grew 60% between Q3 2010 and Q2 2011, according to August 2011 data.


•Period Calendar/Tracker
–Over 5 million users and 5 mil-10mil installs in the last 30 days
–309,300 ratings with 4.5 stars

•iPeriod: ~12,000 stars in the app store 4.5 stars
•Period Tracker Deluxe
–Installs in the last 30 days (1 mil – 5 mil)
–24,799 ratings with 4.75 stars


Part 1: Calendar
The calendar will be the main draw for the users of the app — it is a period tracker. Most fundamental period trackers have these features:
A) Symptoms and Moods for each day
B) Calculation of menstrual cycle lengths
C) The ability to log your periods through the calendar

Part 2: Forum
The ‘Teen Issues’ forum on one period tracker app has 1,992,796 posts on it. Clearly, there’s a need. Create a forum that enables teachers, nurses, peers, and parents to respond.

Part 3: Education: “The Facts”
This will be official information we gather from public sites:
1) Pads +Tampons; 2) Signs of your first period; 3) PMS; etc.

Contact: Ayna Agarwal
ayna1 (at) stanford (dot) edu

Private Secure Website for Victims of Sexual Assault

Rape is one of India’s most common crimes against its women, and as the UN human right’s chief terms it a “national problem”. It is disheartening to see a new rape case reported every 20-25 minutes and Rape in India warranting its own wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_in_India
A lot of times, the rape victim does not speak out because of social stigma. An overwhelming proportion of rape survivors know the attacker personally, as someone from their surroundings, family or daily life. Marital rape that occurs when spouses are living together can only receive civilian remedies. Often, the victim is blamed for the rape.


We would love for the hackathon attendees to think about these problems and devise solutions. Shailesh Tainwala, a graduate student at Stanford University, has pitched the following idea (with non-profit intentions), and is looking for team members to help build this website.
He would like to design a very private/secure website for victims of sexual assault and abuse. As mentioned above, in India, a lot of women can never speak about sexual abuse and assault because of social stigma. Also, there is a big barrier to taking the complaint to the police. Having such a website will
* Give us a real picture of number of abuse cases
* Map these reports to geographical location, giving insights into ‘danger zones’
* Allow victims to share stories without any chance of compromising identity
* Create a community that may, someday, lead bigger changes