The German-based company TolaData is a real youngster ’’œ established in April this year and a newcomer to the Social Stock Exchange ’’œ but one with tremendously adult aspirations.
Kaspar von GrÃ¼nberg is one of its managing directors and I asked him to give a succinct view about what it is TolaData does ’’œ I frankly found myself at a loss, given that their website is so ultra-minimalist, beautifully designed but a little under-powered when it comes to giving information. The landing page declaims: ’˜Digitalisation for the civil sector', which sounds great ’’œ but what does it actually mean?
Von GrÃ¼nberg put me in the picture. ’œLet's take charities like World Vision, Plan International or Save the Children. They work on up to 5,000 projects at any one time, often in more than 100 countries, with staff of around 20,000 people, and up to 100,000 people working in the field with them, such as sub-contractors, partners and a variety of others. There is a huge variety in the programmes they are running, from vaccinations to security issues. They need to respond fast and they need to respond globally. It's hard to keep track of everything. They can't really use normal project management software because these don't cater to their demands. Till now they have used Excel, or paper-based forms. This can lead to inefficiencies, errors, and perhaps creates a sense of distrust among donors. More importantly: they have huge experiences but cannot learn from them, as they do not keep all their data in one place. So, what we do is provide these civil society organisations and NGOs with a variety of information technology tools to enable them to know precisely what is happening in the field.’
At the heart of TolaData is a mobile data-gathering process which allows customised forms to be reusable and downloadable for specific end-users. These forms can be shared with any number of users, classified, and easily stored for analysis. The core of this is a project management platform where NGOs and charities can manage their budgets and plan the multifarious tasks they are involved with. Further applications can be added on to the core, specifically tailored to needs.
Von GrÃ¼nberg again: ’œOne project could be to help a client that is involved in a mass vaccination programme for children in Syria. The goal is to vaccinate 75,000 children. We have developed an application that the doctor or medical staff can get on their smartphones. The doctor records each vaccination on his phone, which then gets uploaded onto our platform. We can then run automated analytics, enabling us to compare his performance with those of his team and other organisations we know. That allows us to check if the doctor is where he is supposed to be and a wide variety of other things. Furthermore, this will make reporting smoother, and more real-time.’
Prior to this, all such database information would be stored in Excel, where human inputting errors are rife, and would have to be sent to a central office for the organisation in question. TolaData offers the chance to record such data while people in the field are doing their allotted tasks, and for this data to be centrally collected, synthesised, comparable ’’œ all at your fingertips.
Financed by private investors interested in supporting NGOs, TolaData is fundamentally a tech company. Social entrepreneurship combined with profitability will make TolaData a long-term partner for all clients and an interesting investment opportunity for investors.
The Social Stock Exchange will be a great partner to raise future funding and meet potential business partners. Further, von GrÃ¼nberg says, ’œWe think there is a great shift in the direction of responsible investing, and all the companies we saw on the Social Stock Exchange, the people involved, the way they all approach things was really convincing. We love the idea to be part of it and we love the idea to be part of what we think is a global movement to make investment more sustainable. We really believe in this idea that you can make money but still act responsibly.’
TolaData ensures that ’˜information equality' is possible, building accountability and certainty for NGOs.
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