2015 Action Project – Final VoteApp Civic Engagement Platform

Team

Murray Abeles, Mike Burgess, Basma El Baz, Magdalena Kura

The Challenge

Since 2011 and the rise of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ Egypt has undergone unprecedented changes.  Two revolutions and two constitutions later, Egypt has emerged from this tumultuous period as a young  democracy. Access to social media and citizen-generated web content has become central to Egypt’s  young technologically-oriented population. Additionally, the emerging tech-based start-up scene in Egypt is  burgeoning. With an estimated 75% of the population under 25 years old, a huge opportunity has arisen for  Egypt to become a leading democratic state in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). In October 2015,  Egypt held its first fully democratic national parliamentary elections since the second revolution of June 30,  2013.

Egypt has moved quickly towards a fully democratic system of governance. However, there is a paucity of  civil engagement and a lack of accompanying institutions to support this transition. Navigating politics in  a young democracy with over 100 political parties can be an overwhelming process. As a result, electoral  turnout, especially amongst the young, was rather low in the 2015 Parliamentary elections. The low turnout  can, in part, be attributed to the lack of available information about candidates, elected officials and political  parties. Furthermore, entrepreneurs in Egypt often suffer from the lack of access to experienced mentors and  capital, both of which are crucial when it comes to turning a great idea into a great business. If Egypt is to  continue to develop, it will need a healthy democracy and thriving small and medium-sized enterprises in the  private sector.

Project Overview

The VoteApp is a civic engagement platform designed to educate voters about their political representatives.  It will take the form of a web-based application that will help voters become more engaged in the democratic  process in Egypt. By making information simple, accessible and informative, the platform will help users  make more educated voting decisions.

A technology conference will be organized aiming to link the startup ecosystems of both Egypt and the  United States. The conference is to be held in New York City, at which the VoteApp mobile application will be  featured as tangible proof of the collaborative development effort between the East and the West, alongside  startup demonstrations, industry speakers and investment seminars.

Project Goals

The vote application aims to allow users to:

  • Discover candidates and elected officials, learn about their accomplishments, voting record and positions on issues
  • Save favourite candidates onto their ‘online ballot’
  • Express public support by using support/trust buttons and share candidates’ profiles on social media • Explore political parties based on your views
  • Compile campaigning material
  • Allow politicians and candidates to more easily connect with their electorate

The East-West start-up conference aims to:

  • Bring together start-ups and entrepreneurs from the East and West
  • Provide an opportunity to discuss respective ecosystems
  • Help start-ups from the East and West collaborate to overcome challenges
  • Launch the VoteApp application
  • Explore the investment climate in the West

Population Served

VoteApp’s target population includes technologically-oriented citizens with access to a smartphone.  Today, 30% of mobile phone users in Egypt are smartphone users.

Project Milestones:

Phase 1: Research and gather business requirements

Phase 2: Development

Phase 3: Quality Assurance

Phase 4: Release and Conference

Expected Outcome

Egypt has a unique opportunity to develop into the economic and democratic powerhouse of the Middle East  and North Africa region. The VoteApp project aims to play a part in this journey by compiling and organizing  information and by bringing talented people from the East and West. Through civic engagement, use of  technology and support for small business, the East and West can both share a better future. We aim to  improve civic engagement, keep electorates informed and foster entrepreneurial relationships between the  East and West.

The applications for the 2022 Gabr Fellowship are now closed.