Last week members of the OpenLMIS steward team, along with other spekers from DIAL and Resonance, gave a webinar sharing our experience from our journey to find a sustainable business model. The webinar was hosted by the Digital Square Global Goods community.
I have pasted some comments from the webinar host, Amanda BenDor below, which I think are interesting reflections that frame the sustainability process for all global goods:
There was a lot of discussion including many comments over the chat during the webinar. Sustainability and figuring out how global goods can survive and thrive to meet the needs of countries especially in the uncertain donor funding landscape is an issue close to many of the members of this community. What came out in this discussion for me was the fact that innovative partnerships and new methodologies are needed to change the status quo and the way to get there is through conversation, action, innovation, and ideation. Underpinning this is the trust we have earned from implementers to develop interoperable software to meet the continuing needs of countries. Many of us are passionate about similar ideas, and it’s important to pool resources, create efficiencies, and ultimately work together to solve these challenges.
I was talking with Brandon, one of our speakers after the session. He said, “We are going to have to shift to find a new customer base (like Private Health subscriptions) and shift to fund new revenue models (like a new mechanism for public health implementations to start paying for ongoing maintenance/updates). There are things we can do, and it won’t be super quick or super easy, but it will restructure the way we work so that we aren’t always begging for donor dollars to keep the lights on. I hope as we continue having sustainability conversations that we can try to frame it with a mix of optimism along with the (valid) frustration in our community.”
I followed up with Heath as well and he added that the webinar was great but because it only touched on things at the surface level, we didn’t have an opportunity to go deeper and capture the sometimes nuanced, findings of the sustainability research. “In many ways the investment in a deeper exercise was not just for OpenLMIS, it provided value for all of the global goods. That in the end the final recommendations for OpenLMIS were not particularly radical, doesn’t mean that the research undertaken on the journey was not helpful and insightful. The idea for the webinar came from our desire to not lose these insights in a OpenLMIS recommendations report but to see how we could spread to the wider global goods community. Because of the Open Source Center’s (OSC) participation during this research, many of Resonance’s findings have found their way into the OSC’s sustainability consulting guide.”
Jake Watson at DIAL has offered their forum at the OSC as a place to continue these conversations. There is a dedicated health category in the discussion section. I’ve started a post already where you can comment. The value of having this discussion in the OSC forum is to go deeper and so that other digital public goods, both health outside of Digital Square and other sectors, can all benefit from this conversation. In addition, the OSC will be holding a sustainability workshop in Abuja the day after ICT4D. In the workshop they will walk through 4 tools including a revenue impact mapping and financial model. The OSC’s current catalytic grant round includes the a sustainability assessment. https://www.osc.dial.community/catalytic-grant-round-4.html
Heath added, “Sustainability is a major challenge for the Global Goods community. We are not sitting still. Digital Square and DIAL are taking this seriously and the work with OpenLMIS and Resonance is an important part of this. We already have tools and recommendations in place to improve sustainability. And in the near future we will have even more.”
We will keep this conversation going and thank you to DIAL for your invaluable partnership with this community!
Best regards to all,