When you’re working in a community that has been devastated by drug abuse and ravaged by social problems, then prestigious marketing awards probably seem a million miles away.
But that is the strange position that Reconstructed Living Labs (RLabs) finds itself in after being nominated in the category “Best Use of Mobile” in the first annual Bees Awards, which recognises outstanding work in the field of social media.
Marlon Parker, the man behind RLabs, explains: “We were nominated for the best use of mobile for our JamiiX Mobile counselling services where we provide youth at risk an opportunity to reach help through the use of Mobile Chat and Mobile Social Networks (e.g. MXit, GTalk etc.). This service has reached more than 150 000 people since we started it in 2008.”
The platform attracted interest from MoVigo Technologies (Pty) Ltd, which lead to substantial seed funding from SAFIPA, the South African Finland Partnership. These developments have in turn led to a business presence being established in both the UK and Malaysia, as Jamiix seeks to become an internationally-recognised brand.
The Bees Awards are a huge networking opportunity for RLabs. Taking place in San Francisco, California on the 9th of November, this is the “first international social media award show for communication and marketing professionals”.
With categories such as Client of the Year, Agency of the Year, Best Tweet, Best Social CRM and much more, there will be some heavyweight creative talents present, including IKEA, Toyota, SaatchiLA, Wieden+Kennedy (the agency behind Old Spice Guy), Sony Mexico and others.
But the networking opportunity could be lost if RLabs cannot raise the funds to attend the awards ceremony. “I am hoping to raise some money to go to the awards,” says Parker. “Will keep you updated on the progress of that, but of course anyone willing to support can get in contact with me.”
RLabs does most of its work in the Athlone area of Cape Town, where drug-abuse, gangsterism, unemployment and depression are features of everyday life. Through their work, the NGO offers the local community “an opportunity to enhance their skills through the use of various technology programmes specially developed to support the needs of the citizens”.
Parker is excited about this nomination: “With many of our members involved in RLabs coming from previously disadvantaged communities this is another part of the story of RLabs about providing hope for our communities”.