Yoti Fellowship Programme winners to explore the potential of digital identities for marginalized groups and in the support of human rights

  • Programme aims to address identity challenges in communities and highlight the transformative impact digital identity can make worldwide
  • Three Fellows from South Africa, Argentina and India were selected out of over 120 applications from 30 countries

New Delh: Today, digital identity company Yoti announces the names of three individuals selected for their 2019 Fellowship Programme. The three Fellows, chosen from over 120 applicants, will spend a year working on local digital identity and identity-related issues in South Africa, Argentina, and India:

  • Tshepo Magoma, a South African researcher, strategist and innovator focused on Africa’s digital revolution.
  • Paz Bernaldo, a Chilean development practitioner, researcher, and activist focused on open science and technology.
  • Subhashish Panigrahi, a digital storyteller, researcher, documentary filmmaker and activist working towards digital freedom for marginalized communities.
Yoti launched its Fellowship Programme after research showed that the digital identity sector tends to begin with the technology and work its way down to the people who use it. The Yoti Fellowship Programme starts with the people and is designed to support researchers, innovators, and individuals who can provide local knowledge of digital identity needs. It highlights the issues, challenges, and opportunities for digital identity to make a positive impact both locally and worldwide.

Further details of the Fellowship Programme can be found on the Yoti blog here. Yoti received over 120 applications for the Programme from over 30 developing countries including Yemen, Mexico, India, Ethiopia, Philippines, Egypt and Cambodia.

More details on the three selected Fellows: 
South Africa: Tshepo will be studying the digital identity landscape in South Africa, in particular, its effectiveness in fighting fraud. He will examine the national digital identity programme from a human rights perspective, and propose safeguards and policy recommendations for all those involved.

Argentina: Paz will focus on unraveling what digital identity, and identity in general, means to unemployed and under-employed individuals receiving support from public job centers and local labor NGOs in two major cities in Argentina – Gran Buenos Aires and Mar del Plata, the city with the highest unemployment rate in the country. Vulnerable groups are those most likely to seek help from job centers and NGOs, yet they are the ones most hit by the rapid digitalization of the public space and the economy.

India: Subhashish will carry out focused multimedia research designed to amplify the challenges and opportunities within marginalized groups that are being – or going – to be affected most by Aadhaar, India’s biometric-based digital identity system.

“I’m very excited to have been selected as a Yoti Digital Identity Fellow,” says Paz. “When I first heard about the Programme it struck me as an incredible opportunity to spend a year focusing on a critical digital identity issue in Argentina. The Fellowship also felt like something of a personal adventure, and a wonderful opportunity to explore a topic close to my heart.”

Reflecting on her role as a member of the Selection Panel, Chrissy Martin is excited for what lies ahead, “We still have a long way to go in fully understanding the implications of various digital ID initiatives, especially for the most vulnerable. The diversity of applications for the Yoti Fellowship and the issues covered, highlight just how important it is to amplify a wide range of voices, as they raised issues that are rarely researched or discussed. I’m thrilled to see how these three Fellows will contribute to the conversation and hopefully influence future policy decisions not only in their country but globally.” 

Speaking about the Fellowship Programme, Ken Banks, Head of Social Purpose at Yoti said,

“We launched the Fellowship Programme earlier this year with the objective of helping our sector better understand and address digital identity challenges at a grassroots level, particularly in the Global South. We received an overwhelming number of quality applications making it extremely difficult to whittle them down to just the three. Thanks to some excellent work from the Selection Panel we managed it, and I’m delighted to welcome Tshepo, Paz, and Subhashish to the Programme. Each of them brings unique insights, experiences, and knowledge that will help unlock the true potential of digital identity within the communities where they will be working.”

Tshepo, Paz, and Subhashish will commence their Fellowships on 1st October. Applications for the 2020 Yoti Fellowship Programme will be open from next April.

For more information about Yoti’s Social Purpose work go to https://www.yoti.com/social-purpose/ or download a copy of Yoti’s Social Purpose Strategy here.