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Staff Blog

Recognizing International Women’s Day at Dimagi

by Kyla Johnson

8 March 2015

 

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International Women’s Day, which takes place annually on March 8th, is a day to celebrate the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future.  To help commemorate this day, a few of the women of Dimagi were asked to write a response to the prompt “How does Dimagi have an impact on the lives of women?”   Their answers, featured below, demonstrate how Dimagi’s mobile technology solutions, our project implementation services, and even our work culture all have a positive effect on women worldwide.


 

“What makes Dimagi stand out is not just the software we deliver to women as a job aid, but the fact that we count them, train them, and eventually empower them with information that make them stronger in everyday life.”

-Mengji Chen, Senior Program Analyst


 “Some of my favorite moments at Dimagi have been watching community health workers’ reactions after the first few days of using CommCare. They often exhibit a newfound sense of empowerment, and tell stories about how using CommCare in their communities makes them feel more respected and valued. While this excitement is universal, it’s particularly palpable and powerful for female frontline workers. Women will describe feeling much more confident in the services that they are delivering thanks to CommCare. For them, CommCare becomes very personal in that it can help reduce doubts clients have in their service delivery, doubts that often exist because they happen to be women. By equipping women with mobile phones that run CommCare, clients can often abandon these doubts. CommCare enables them to see beyond stereotypes and, for the first time, fully see how smart and valuable female frontline workers are in their entirety.” 

-Gillian Javetski, Director of Communications


 “Women make up a large portion of health workers using our CommCare applications. So we put women at the center of our design process, understanding that through our mHealth deployments this may be the first time they have access to technology and ownership of their own phone. Though our software has been designed for low-literate, less tech savvy users, it’s true that they have to learn how to type on a phone to register cases. A major focus of our trainings is teaching women to learn how to type.

This example demonstrates what I find most incredible about our work – seeing how women discover new technology and the world of possibilities it can open up for them in this increasingly mobilized world. In our small ways, it might be that our work with women is disrupting one of many structural barriers women face in accessing technology and information.”

-Mohini Bhavsar, Senior Regional Manager – West Africa


“Dimagi impacts the lives of women all around the world, including the lives of the women that work here. It has created a space where my fellow Dimagi women and I are taking on active roles that include managing teams and projects, coding, research coordination, and working as member of the communication team in a company that sits within the male-dominated field of technology. And while Dimagi has provided these opportunities and the ability to begin closing the gender divide in tech, I would like to think that the women working here are also having a positive impact on Dimagi!”

-Meryn Robinson, Research Coordinator


“The women and men who work at Dimagi are engineers, public health and development specialists, business and partnership strategists. One thing they have in common is that they are among the most supportive coworkers I’ve met. In the few months I’ve worked here, Dimagi has shown itself to be as committed to creating a culture of inclusiveness and equality within the company as it is driven to creating impact in the world. This culture helps me be a happier employee- and woman!”

-Gayatri Jayal, Field Manager


“I can’t speak for Dimagi’s impact on “women” broadly, but I will say that Dimagi’s work has affected me deeply as a woman. Whenever I have had the chance to observe female frontline workers use CommCare — whether it’s at a maternity hospital, a gender-based violence clinic, or a micropharmacy — I have felt inspired by and connected to their obvious enthusiasm to make a difference. Dimagi’s emphasis on empowering frontline workers is just the beginning of a chain reaction in women’s leadership.”

-Arya Shekar, Director of Legal Affairs


As International Women’s Day comes to a close, Dimagi recognizes that through our mobile solutions, women around the world have become more empowered. Our entire team, (which bolsters close to a 50/50 male/female ratio) works tirelessly to ensure our projects create the most impact in the lives of the people that need it most. For more information on International Women’s Day, please visit www.un.org/en/events/womensday/


What did I learn in 15 months at Dimagi?

by Devika

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Devika is a second year Field Manager in Dimagi’s India office. Devika wrote the following blog post about her last year and a bit at Dimagi for her own personal blog. We’re reposting it below. 

I was sitting in a mango orchard with my colleagues last week and started thinking how much life has changed since I joined Dimagi. From December 2013 to now, I  have travelled to 3 countries in Africa and the Middle East and 9 states in India. During those travels and trainings, I have altered intrinsically. So what changed?

  1. I’ve learnt to work with tasks where you don’t have all the answers yet. Be it working on an app or Dimagi’s business model, I’ve seen people find answers along the way. You don’t need to wait for all pieces to fall into place to start.
  2. From my previous job to this one, the management style is radically different. Most managers at Dimagi care about support more than supervision. They trust me to work independently, take decisions and execute them. Of course, they always get regular updates and give feedback. And are available to reach out to in case of any issues.
  3. Both management and other teams like finance, operations and HR make our life so easy that I wonder how I’ll react to bureaucracy now. I have become so unused to red tape and tedious processes that I might have to reprogram myself if I end up in a more structured organisation later on. The structure of Dimagi came out of its focus on team satisfaction and hiring the right people. In 2008, the CEO Jon Jackson said that we’d rather be a company of 15 people who love their jobs than 100 people who like their jobs. Dimagi just crossed 100 people last year but that culture has been preserved.
  4. The people I have been around have made me a more open, liberal individual. There are lots of nationalities in the team and diverse backgrounds. It’s created a safe space where you can be yourself and are not expected to fit in any mold.
  5. Working hard or being smart is not equivalent to being serious is another takeaway. Sometimes when I go into work mode, I tend to focus so intensively that there’s little place left for light-hearted banter or lingering over a meal. Seeing people effortlessly switch between personal and professional or even better run on both tracks parallely, has been an education. Not just for how I work but it’s also shaped the lens with which I view someone new.
  6. I have met and worked with scores of people over the last year. Other than how I work, it has increased my patience and adaptability. When you are in a long discussion about a nonprofit’s workflow or train 30 people in two days, patience is a necessary virtue. The first time I moved out of India, I landed in francophone Niger that is unfortunately placed last on the UN human development index. I don’t speak French and had never eaten African food before. For a full month, I was closely guarded by armed men because of high security risk. Despite all this, when I look back, only pleasant memories linger. In the interest of full disclosure, I can also remember the frustration at lack of internet in my hotel. But other than that, those were good times.
These are my musings about the last 450 days. In the next 450, I expect to apply to business school, see one of my apps go to national scale and grow into new responsibilities at Dimagi. And of course, travel a lot more!

CommCare Dresses, and Deploying mHealth in Senegal

by Mohini Bhavasar, Dimagi West Africa

24 February 2015
Patrick Keating, Field Manager in West Africa observes a Matron conducting a consultation and helps her with a question.

Patrick Keating, Field Manager in West Africa observes a Matron conducting a consultation and helps her with a question.

This week, I had the pleasure of meeting a matrone in Senegal (women in villages who provide pregnancy counseling to younger women) as part of a field visit with the local NGO, Africare. She was one of 30 matrones my Dimagi West Africa colleagues Carla Legros and Patrick Keating trained in Ziguinchor, Senegal for Africare’s CCHT project.

As part of the project, our team developed two CommCare applications. The first application is used by matrones to monitor completion of antenatal care check-ups, help identify pregnancy danger signs, and trigger referrals. The second application is by nurses, who see referral cases created by the matrones, as long as there their phones have synced via an Internet connection. After the training, the matrones had gone out to the market to buy themselves a beautiful blue and white patterned local fabrique to… wait for it… make themselves dresses with blue and white patterns that resemble the CommCare logo. The matrone I met even modeled her CommCare dress for me!

Read the rest of this post…


10 Things That Made Us Tick in 2014

by Gillian Javetski

16 February 2015

If 2013 was the year of rapid growth at Dimagi, then 2014 was even faster. Our CEO Jonathan Jackson touches upon this growth in his annual letter, focusing on how he’ll remember 2014 as the year that Dimagi hit 100 people. In addition to growing the size of our company, a lot of other big milestones occurred in 2014. The list below includes just a few of them (enjoy!)

  • We hit a big self-starter milestone. By the end of 2014, 40% of all CommCare projects were being run by self-starters, meaning organizations that developed and launched CommCare applications without any in-person help from Dimagi. This includes groups like Aquaya in SenegalMIT GlobeMed in Togo, Civic Hire in Haiti, and Lift II in Malawi. Reaching this number means a lot to us, and shows CommCare’s development into a sustainable, accessible platform.
  • We begun scaling CommCare nationally in Haiti through a project with Pathfinder and URC, our biggest CommCare deployment to date. Haiti set the tone for taking on more nationally scaling CommCare projects, including one in Mozambique with Ariel Glaser.
  • We launched projects in new sectors, including social apps project in India, a cash transfer app for WFP in Zambia, and our first regional microfinance project with Small Enterprise Foundation in South Africa. Dimagi also hosted its first mEducation roundtable and women’s empowerment workshop. We also tested and validated several CommCare uses cases, including warehouse storage for agricultural programs and CommCare for Sales Agents. We talked about our findings in these new sectors at this year’s Global mHealth Forum in DC.
  • We focused on maturity and how to achieve economies of scale. This lead to us developing and testing our maturity model in South Africa. We’re excited to introduce it to the world in March.
  • We grew our logistics work with our logistics platform, CommTrack. The first CommTrack v.2 project was launched in Senegal. We also helped organizations in India and Nepal deploy proof of concepts for logistics using both CommCare and CommTrack.
  • We established new teams like our R&D team and our data research team. Our R&D team is testing and developing CommCare features in Burkina Faso and India, while our data analyzed CommCare trends, some of which can be seen in their “Under the Data Tree” blog series.
  • We grew our team, including hitting the triple digits. But our growth in size didn’t stop us from prioritizing spending time with each other. In 2014, we had our second Away Month in Guatemala, the first West Africa Summit, and our first tech team summit.

Want to learn more about any of these 10 things? Feel free to email me at gjavetski@dimagi.com.


Hitting 100: Dimagi’s Annual Letter

by Jonathan Jackson, CEO

 

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As we prepped for our annual meeting at Dimagi this year, I found the first slide I’d put together for our annual meeting six years ago in 2008.  It opened with: “We would rather be a team of 15 people that love their job than 100 people that like their job.” When the next year’s meeting came up in 2009, we’d grown a bit so I had to change it 20 people. In 2010 I had to change it again, this time to 25. At a certain point, I eventually deleted that line because it had become a running joke that we would keep increasing the number to match our headcount every year.

2014 was an amazing year for Dimagi, and one I’ll always remember because we hit 100 people. Four years ago, our global services team has grown from a few scrappy field managers in Tanzania, trying to figure out if this thing we were calling CommCare could work. Now, we have a full-fledged (and just as scrappy) 45+ person team around the world. Similarly, prior to 2010, we didn’t have any fully self-service products so it wasn’t even possible to deploy without Dimagi services. Now, we have a large tech team, and a product where 40% of our users are building apps without Dimagi’s direct help, including self-starters like Aquaya in Senegal, MIT GlobeMed in Togo, Civic Hire in Haiti, and Lift II in Malawi.

As our company has evolved rapidly every year, I’ve come to appreciate that the 100 person barrier wasn’t the key takeaway from my old phrase, but rather the focus on making sure we all love our jobs.  So instead of focusing on size,  we start with a slide that says: “Dimagi’s bottom line is impact, team satisfaction, and profit, in that order.”

Certainly, as we’ve grown, how we create impact, team satisfaction, and profit has changed significantly. Having a bigger team has enabled us to do things that we couldn’t have delivered on when we were smaller. We couldn’t provide excellent support and quality to our customers without our first support lead, Nate Haduch or our first QA lead, Christy White. We couldn’t provide the amazing services we do without our country directors and everyone in the field in Senegal, India, Mozambique, Guatemala, Myanmar, South Africa, Zambia, and the United States.

Having a bigger team has given us greater bandwidth, including the chance to focus more on innovation and answer bigger, tougher questions. In 2014 we developed a Research and Development team that’s working on making better mobile features for projects in Burkina Faso, the same features that will eventually be adopted into our open source platform for everyone to access. This year we also established a data research team who can now dedicate time to analyze CommCare data trends, some of which can be seen in their “Under the Data Tree” blog series. We have project managers like Fiorenzo Conte in Senegal who are now able to focus in on prototyping new uses for our tools like CommSell. We’re able to dedicate time for people like Saijai Liangpunsakul, Devika Sarin, & Rushika Shekhar to focus their efforts on spending time in countries like Myanmar, where mHealth has just arrived.

Of course, as our team has grown, we’ve had to add in more processes, communication channels, and best practices that companies tend to do when they grow.  We try to do our best to balance the autonomy and decisions we expect each team member to make with efficiency, safety and value to our customers.  Many of us started or joined Dimagi because we loved the idea of working for a small, tight-knit team and were worried about growing bigger.  But, we’ve learned its not an either or decision. To everyone who works here or has worked here, I think we are immensely proud that we’ve been able to maintain that tight-knit culture but adapt it to a 100 person organization.

While I’ll always remember 2014 as the year that we hit 100 people, I’ll also remember it as another year where we’ve managed to retain a company-wide spirit of folks who “…would rather be a team of 15 people that love their job than 100 people that like their job.” Whether it’s 15 or 100, our passion remains as high as its always been and our outlook for partnering to create impact is better than its ever been. Now lets see what we can do in 2015.

Want to learn more about what we were up to this year? Check out this “10 things that made us tick in 2014.”