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Community Networks Learning Grants – Connecting the unconnected

“Connecting the unconnected: Supporting community networks and other community-based connectivity initiatives” is a project by APC in partnership with Rhizomatica that aims to directly support the work of community networks, with the support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). The initiative intends to contribute to an enabling ecosystem for the emergence and growth of community-based connectivity initiatives in developing countries. It is part of a multi-year, multi-donor strategy envisaged to address the human capacity and sustainability challenges, along with the policy and regulatory obstacles, that limit the growth of community-based connectivity initiatives.

A summary of the project explaining all its components can be found below.

Community-owned networks and/or organisations that represent them are invited to apply for grant funding that will enable their participation in an active, collective learning process, involving virtual and in-person activities (see the full list below). Twelve grantees will be selected, four each from Africa, Asia and, Latin America to learn from each other.

Also, additional funds, referred to as “Pathfinder Grants”, are available for the above grantees to address strategic gaps that affect their sustainability. The use of these funds and the total amount of the grant per organisation is not fixed and will be decided collectively during the course of the project. More information about the Pathfinder Grants can be found here.

Main purpose of the grants: Twelve community network organisations (four in Africa, four in Asia and four in Latin America) will be selected and granted funding towards activities that create and foster a peer learning community (see the full list of responsibilities below). Community networks, and organisations that represent them, are invited to apply and nominate two “in-house” candidates to become the peer community member representatives.[1]

Start date: March 2019

Deadline for applications: 25 January 2019

  • Nominate two people with at least one of them being a woman to represent the organisation in the peer community. The activities of each regional peer community (Africa, Asia, Latin America) will be facilitated by a regional coordinator. The activities of a peer group of women will be further facilitated by a gender coordinator. The peer community of women is a mechanism to share experiences and ways that women are adapting to their own community network contexts as well as to support women to become role models in community network-related issues.

  • Participate in the global Peer Community Inception Meeting in March 2019.

  • Participate actively in monthly calls, and through other media platforms, with other members of the peer community from the region and globally.

  • Visit other members of the peer community for additional knowledge exchange.

  • Document good practices and common pitfalls (via video) of your own community network and share these with the rest of the peer community.

  • Share lessons from the peer community back into your own home organisation.

  • Contribute to the creation of materials for a training programme for community networks.

  • Selected members of the peer community are expected to participate as instructors for capacity-building training, which will be co-located with regional community networks summits.

  • Provide the regional coordinators, gender coordinator and pathfinder coordinator with the information required for the implementation of the Pathfinder Grants.[2]

  • Implement the Pathfinder Grant to address a sustainability gap identified in your organisation, if applicable.

  • Collaborate with the project's policy and regulation team to develop country profiles containing the legal framework concerning community networks in your respective country.

  • Organise a national multistakeholder event in your respective country to raise awareness about community networks.


Organisations will have to clearly specify in which country and area within that country they will be implementing the activities related to the project.

Remuneration and duration of contract

Each organisation awarded a Peer Community Grant will receive USD 25,000 to conduct the activities described above. On average there are funds for one international trip per peer community member. This fund is intended to cover:

  • a minimum of a 0.33 full-time equivalent contract for each of the two representatives of the organisation in the peer community, who are expected to commence work in March, until 31 December 2019; and,

  • the cost of convening a national multistakeholder event (described above).

Additionally, there will be funds available for the peers for two travel exchanges to visit other members of the peer community. Other travel funds to attend training and strategic policy meetings are also available for peers on request (on average there are funds for one international trip for one person per grantee).

Finally, there will be USD 120,000 available per region in the form of Pathfinder Grants to improve the sustainability of the members of the peer community. There is no initial fixed amount from the pathfinder fund that will be granted to the peer community members, and allocation of the funds will be decided collectively with the pathfinder coordinator, the respective regional coordinator and the gender coordinator, based on a proposal that addresses a sustainability gap identified by each member.

A contract between the selected organisations and APC will be drawn up containing the specific terms and the disbursement process for the Peer Community Grants.[3]

How to apply:

Interested organisations should submit an application with the following information in English:

  • A cover letter stating their experience and interest in becoming part of the peer community. This letter should include:

    • Experience in collaborating with other national, regional and global institutions, including community networks and other actors within the internet connectivity ecosystem.

    • The country and the region in the country where you will be implementing activities for the project.

    • The name of two nominees [4] who will represent the organisation within the peer community and their job titles.

    • Name, email and job title of the contact person for this host institution.

    • Confirmation that the nominees representing the peer community:

      • can travel frequently and internationally.

      • are inclusive network builders and team players.

      • have the ability to plan and think strategically, in particular to revise practices and suggest solutions to ensure efficiency of the implementation of the project.

      • have the capacity to work autonomously and in a team setting.

    • Languages spoken and written by the different team members/nominees who will join the peer community.

    • Experience and available equipment for video recording and editing.

    • Experience with platforms for online collaboration.

    • Experience in developing training materials and delivering them.

    • Capacity and equipment to secure a reliable internet connection to participate in the online meetings and activities.

    • Knowledge about policy advocacy processes and other mechanisms that enable community networks, small operators or universal affordable access.

    • Other information that might be of importance to our assessment of the application.

  • Three references from other institutions that the organisation has collaborated with in the past, including names, relationship, contact details.

  • A proposal from the interested institution stating how becoming part of the peer community could strengthen its community network’s sustainability. This proposal should include: details on its organisational capacity, an organisational profile (including its legal registration, organigram and past experience in community networks as well as in managing grants), and how it plans to participate in the peer community.

Please send this information and any questions via email with “Peer Community Member: <Africa/Asia/Latin America>” in the subject line to: by 25 January 2019, 23:00 UTC. Please note that only shortlisted host institutions will be contacted.

Project details

The project will focus on 12 locally managed community networks in Africa, Asia and Latin America (four per region) to strengthen their impact, reach and sustainability. This group of community networks will form the core of a peer community that can connect and broaden support for community-based connectivity initiatives, both nationally, regionally and internationally.

The project will achieve its objectives through peer learning and exchange, awareness raising and capacity building for the development of scalable, innovative and sustainable networks, and by contributing to the development of an enabling policy and regulatory environment.

The project follows human rights-based and gender equality approaches, with a special emphasis on women-led initiatives and integration of a gender perspective at all levels of project conceptualisation, planning and implementation. In addition, an ecosystem approach that integrates participation and ownership of project participants will be used to ensure sustainability beyond the life of the project.

This project builds on APC’s existing local access-related work currently being implemented with Sida’s core support, and the knowledge gained from the Local Access Networks research project implemented by APC and its partner Rhizomatica, with support from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), during the period August 2017-January 2019.

About APC

APC is a global network of civil society organisations whose mission is to empower and support organisations, social movements and individuals in and through the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to build strategic communities and initiatives for the purpose of making meaningful contributions to equitable human development, social justice, participatory political processes and environmental sustainability.

About Rhizomatica

Rhizomatica is a civil society organisation whose mission is to increase access to and participation in telecommunications by supporting communities to build and maintain self-governed and owned communication infrastructure. Rhizomatica's approach combines regulatory activism and reform, critical engagement with technology and the development of decentralised telecommunications infrastructure, and direct community involvement and participation.

[1] In addition, funds referred to as “Pathfinder Grants” are available for peer community members to cover strategic gaps that can affect community network sustainability. The use of these funds and the total amount of the grant per peer community member will be decided collectively with the pathfinder coordinator, the gender coordinator and the respective regional coordinator, based on proposals submitted by the members of the peer community.

[2] More information about the Pathfinder Grants can be found here.

[3] An additional contract will be established once the objective of the Pathfinder Grant is defined.

[4] Once the project starts, nominees may be adjusted based on organisational expertise.