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Yoti launches Fellowship Programme to boost understanding of developing world identity needs


Yoti is launching a Fellowship Programme to support local researchers, innovators, and individuals with knowledge of local identity needs, and the issues, challenges and opportunities that go along with them, as part of its Social Impact Strategy.

The company launched its Social Impact Strategy in February to support innovation for developing world identification projects. The digital identity sector tends to focus on large-scale identity initiatives such as Aadhaar, according to the announcement, and most research starts with technology, rather than those who use it. Yoti is pursuing a different approach in its attempt to make a positive global impact with digital identity.

Yoti is inviting proposals for development of research, media, policy, or solutions, with three Fellowship positions to fill. Proposals should be based on three or four identity-related themes in need of exploration, and the results could take the form of a technical platform, a report, a website, or a policy paper, among many possibilities. Thematic areas suggested by Yoti include providing and managing identity solutions for marginalized or economically exploited communities or individuals, such as refugees and migrants, difficulties among indigenous communities in establishing and proving identity and collecting eligible benefits, and the specifics of what “digital identity” means for communities in developing countries and the agencies that provide services to them.

Priority will be given to proposals from the developing world, and further details are available in a Yoti blog post. Applicants will be selected by a panel of activists and experts in digital identity, technology, and social science.

“This is a great opportunity to work with an innovative team on issues that really matter,” says UNESCO Chair in ICT4D Tim Unwin, who will serve as a judge on the Fellowship Programme’s selection panel. “Rather than beginning with the technology, these Fellowships offer an opportunity to begin with people – identifying why they might want a digital identity, and how such identities can be designed most appropriately to serve their needs.”

Fellows will receive technical and logistical support from Yoti, along with a payment of £30,000 (roughly US$38,000), and an expense budget of up to £5,000. Applications are due June 15, 2019.

“We believe there’s tremendous potential in the use of digital identity at a grassroots level, particularly in the provision of social services to local communities,” comments Yoti Head of Social Impact Ken Banks. “It’s vital, however, that we understand needs, perceptions, concerns and opportunities before we offer solutions. This new Fellowship Programme is designed to help us do just that by engaging individuals within the very communities themselves to help us answer the questions which most matter to them.”

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