By Luminate

Omidyar Network Announces New Commitments to Support Growth of Civic Technology in Central and Eastern Europe

$1 million of new funding for initiatives in Ukraine and Poland
will drive the development of civic tech and entrepreneurial ecosystem in the region

KYIV, Ukraine (13 November, 2017) – Omidyar Network, the leading philanthropic investment firm established by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, has today announced new commitments of more than $1 million to civic technology initiatives in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). In particular, it will fund new programs in Ukraine and Poland to support entrepreneurs and the growth of the civic technology ecosystem.

As part of this support for civic technology across CEE, Omidyar Network has helped fund the opening of the first civic tech hub in the region, the 1991 Civic Tech Center, established by SocialBoost, a Ukrainian tech NGO focused on impact projects in open data, civic technology, and e-governance. Located in the heart of Kyiv, the Center will bring together the Ukrainian government, businesses, journalists, and civic tech groups. It will operate as a membership-based co-working space with a number of accelerator and mentorship support programs, as well as an events space to support civic tech professionals.

A grant of $480,000 from Omidyar Network to SocialBoost will fund the renovation of the 1991 Civic Tech Center venue, capacity building, and the development of new programs to empower the civic tech community. The Center will be fully operational in December 2017.

“It is a great endorsement for the development of our organization that such a well-known international impact investor as Omidyar Network is supporting our activities,” commented Denis Gursky, Head of the Board at SocialBoost. “We are ready to consolidate many great initiatives and provide them with all necessary factors for growth in terms of space, mentorship, connections, - and what’s even more important - instant access to each other.”

 “The steady growth in the civic technology sector in Central and Eastern Europe is enabling citizens to better engage on the issues that matter most to their lives,” said Olena Boytsun, Principal and investment lead for the CEE region at Omidyar Network. “The opening of the 1991 Civic Tech Center in Kyiv, alongside work by other organizations we support such as ePanstwo Foundation and Seedstars World, will create more opportunities for collaboration and enable a new wave of talented entrepreneurs and technologists to drive further growth and impact across the emerging CEE civic tech ecosystem.”

Also in Ukraine, Omidyar Network has become a national sponsor of the Seedstars World event, a global competition to support seed-stage startups from more than 60 emerging markets. The program identifies organizations with high growth potential, provides them with pitch training and awards the winners the opportunity to compete in the Seedstars Summit, at which a Seedstars World Global Winner is crowned.

Omidyar Network’s sponsorship includes the Seedstars World CEE Regional Summit held in Kyiv on 7 December this year. The event will help showcase the potential of entrepreneurship in CEE, and civic tech will be a leading topic on this year’s agenda.

In addition, Omidyar Network recently renewed its support for ePanstwo Foundation, a Poland-based NGO, with a $400,000 grant over 3 years for its core activities, including the TransparenCEE project, a network of civic tech organizations in Central and Eastern Europe. Omidyar Network also supports the development of the Personal Democracy Forum CEE, the biggest civic tech event in the region.

Omidyar Network’s commitments in Central and Eastern Europe add to its wider portfolio of grants and impact investments around the world. To date, it has invested $126 million globally to support the development of civic technology, funding 66 organizations that are helping to strengthen the relationship between citizens and their governments.