Mozilla Common Voice, an open source initiative aimed at making voice technology more inclusive, has announced a $400,000 grant program for voice technologies that use its open source Kiswahili data set. The initiative will provide assistance to people and projects in East Africa who are using voice technology to create social and economic opportunities.
Winning projects in Kenya, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo will each receive up to $50,000 in funding (DRC). Common Voice is looking for projects that focus on agriculture and finance, as well as those that help groups that face digital exclusion due to gender, income inequality, or location (for example, populations based in rural areas).
“These grants will fuel products powered by open voice data and technology, and built with local community involvement and engagement. And in the long-term, they can help shift power and improve social and economic opportunities for marginalized groups, particularly women, in Kenya, Tanzania, and Kiswahili-speaking DRC.” says Chenai Chair, Mozilla’s Africa Innovation Mradi Consultant.
Winning projects can be inspired by existing voice technologies that use Common Voice data, such as Mbaza, a chatbot that provides timely and accurate information about the pandemic in Kinyarwanda, French, and English.
For example, an ideal project could provide timely pricing updates for small crop farmers through information services. Alternatively, provide simple information on land rights to communities, such as women in rural areas.
A panel of Mozilla judges will evaluate applicants, who must meet criteria such as feasibility, sustainability, impact, data corpus contribution, community engagement, and differentiation. Applicants should also have a core team in place in the region, and their work should be made available under an open source licence.
Applications can be submitted here. Letters of intent (LOI) must be submitted by March 22, 2022.