Policy hackathon explained: How an all-society approach can engage entrepreneurs and governments to develop better policy in West Africa

Brainstorming session at the Bamako Policy Hackathon
Brainstorming session at the Bamako Policy Hackathon. Photo: World Bank

What would happen if you put all the relevant players for the entrepreneurial ecosystem — startup founders, policymakers, developers, students, investors — into one room and facilitated an open dialogue on improving the business environment? This is exactly what is taking place in West Africa through a series of policy hackathons supported by the World Bank.

We all have a stake in development and this multifaceted process – local, top-down, bottom-up – is a great example of African innovation. Civic engagement in policymaking is not happening elsewhere so it’s not just about importing knowledge and best practice but generating lessons we can export to the rest of the world,” said Sebastian Molineus, World Bank Director of the Finance, Competitiveness and Innovation (FCI) Global Practice about policy hackathons taking place in West Africa, at a recent World Bank Brown-Bag Lunch in January.

So what is a policy hackathon?

Typically, a hackathon is an event where computer programmers and other experts collaborate to develop new software and applications. A policy hackathon works in much the same way. A mix of stakeholders are invited to a facilitated, user-driven policy workshop to harness their collective intelligence and design solutions for identified problems. During these hackathons, policy-users are asked to adopt a policymaker’s perspective to create and propose legislation that can dismantle barriers to innovative entrepreneurship.

Most recently, Senegal’s new Presidential Commission for Rapid Entrepreneurship (DER) initiated an innovation for policy process. The Dakar Policy Hackathon brought together more than sixty actors from Senegal’s entrepreneurial ecosystem to brainstorm ideas on how to improve the business environment, particularly for startups.

Senegal President Macky Sall at the DER townhall Startup Act
Senegal President Macky Sall at the DER townhall Startup Act. Photo: World Bank

It’s important for political authorities to better understand the difficulties and expectations of entrepreneurs. And of course, it is essential for civil society to have a better idea of where the reforms are and where the entrepreneurial ecosystem is going,” said Abdoul Aziz Sy, CEO of Impact Dakar which hosted the Dakar Policy Hackathon in partnership with Kinaya Ventures, Jokkolabs Dakar, Gainde 2000Concree and the Women’s Investment Club.

Interactive, participatory and dynamic, the Dakar policy hackathon concluded at 4am with a draft proposal from the entrepreneurial ecosystem for a new Startup Act Senegal. The drafted legislation was refined with the DER, debated by the wider population during an online consultation that leveraged an AI-based chatbot, revised through multi-stakeholder co-creation sessions, reviewed by local legal experts and finally presented to the Senegalese President in a televised public meeting. It must now enter the legislative agenda to be officially adopted within the first half of 2019.

Across Africa, governments are seeking to harness digital technologies and entrepreneurship to transform their societies and job markets. Such an ambitious goal, however, requires engagement with local software developers, accountants, engineers, students, entrepreneurs and other experts. Seeing citizens as a resource and relying on them for local knowledge, rather than a blanket strategy of seeking best practices from elsewhere, therefore allows for homegrown experimentation and gives citizens a stake in public policy.

It’s time to innovate on economic policy in Africa. We aren’t asking our governments to listen to us, rather we want to work with them to co-create policies that work for the innovation community,” Markos Lemma of IceAddis.

The policy hackathon idea was born in 2016 out of an initiative launched with community innovation hubs across Africa, called i4Policy. More than 128 hubs convening communities of 700,000 entrepreneurs and innovators across the continent have so far co-created and signed the Africa Innovation Policy Manifesto.

The first i4Policy hackathon took place at Impact Hub Kigali in 2017 in partnership with the Rwandan Ministry of Commerce, DfID and the Swiss Government. The local entrepreneurial community worked with the government to draft Rwanda’s national strategy for private sector development and youth employment.

We are now witnessing a real momentum in policy innovation. Many West African governments and beyond are seeking to host their own policy hackathons to foster effective private sector development and youth employment reform. Similar events have taken place in NigeriaMali and Côte d’Ivoire. Together with the World Bank (thanks to a trust fund financed by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, AICS) and by mobilizing other donors, i4Policy hubs plan to launch policy hackathons in the remaining WAEMU countries in 2019, including in Niger, Burkina Faso, Togo and Benin.

We live at a time when technology is multiplying the opportunities available to populations, even in the most difficult of circumstances. Policy hackathons are a unique way of bringing all players to the table to discuss how governments can leverage technology and entrepreneurial approaches to optimize public policy solutions.


Source: http://blogs.worldbank.org/psd/policy-hackathon-explained-how-all-society-approach-can-engage-entrepreneurs-and-governments-develop

24 Must Have WordPress Plugins for Business Websites in 2019

Looking for the best WordPress plugins to take your business to the next level in 2019?

There are over 54,226 WordPress plugins that you can choose from. This makes it extremely overwhelming for new users to find the right plugin for their website.

We are often asked by readers for the best WordPress plugin suggestions for SEO, social media, backups, speed, etc.

Being the largest WordPress resource site, our experts test over thousand free and premium WordPress plugins every year, so we can make it easy for our users (you) to find the best solutions.

Having the right set of WordPress plugins and tools can help you grow your online business. In this article, we have shared our expert pick of the must-have WordPress plugins for business websites in 2019.

Must have WordPress plugin for business websites

Note: these are the plugins that our team installs when we start a new blog or make a new website for our own businesses.

1. WPForms

WPForms

Every website needs a contact form because it makes it easy for your visitors to get in touch with you. WPForms is the most user-friendly contact form plugin for WordPress.

This drag & drop online form builder allows you to easily create contact forms, email subscription forms, online order forms, payment forms,
surveys, polls, and basically all other types of online forms with just a few clicks.

WPForms integrates with all popular marketing and payment platforms, so you can build powerful forms in less than 5 minutes.

It even comes with options to help you create custom WordPress user registration form and login page.

We use WPForms on the WPBeginner website and all of our other websites. But we’re not alone. Over 1 million websites use WPForms, and they have consistently maintained a 4.9 out of 5 star rating average for over 2 years now.

There’s a free WPForms Lite version available for those who are looking for a simple solution.

If you are a seriously looking to grow your business, then we recommend getting the Pro version because it comes with all the powerful features you need to boost your lead generation efforts. Use this WPForms coupon to get 50% off your purchase.

2. MonsterInsights

MonsterInsights

MonsterInsights is the best Google Analytics plugin for WordPress. It allows you to “properly” connect your website with Google Analytics, so you can see exactly how people find and use your website.

The best part is that it shows you all the important stats that matter right inside your WordPress dashboard.

You can then optimize your website accordingly to increase your traffic, subscribers, and revenue. We have detailed guides on how to install Google Analytics in WordPress, how to use Google Analytics to enable eCommerce tracking, and how to track user engagement.

MonsterInsights has a free version, but the true power of it only unlocks when you upgrade to the Pro version.

You can use our MonsterInsights coupon to get 50% off your purchase.

MonsterInsights is used by over 2 million websites.

3. Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO

SEO helps you get more visitors from search engines to your website. While WordPress is SEO friendly out of the box, there is so much more you can do to increase your website traffic using SEO best practices.

Yoast SEO is one of the most popular WordPress plugin of all time. Out of all the WordPress SEO plugins, Yoast offers the most comprehensive solution with all the features and tools that you need to improve your on-page SEO.

It helps you add meta tags, generate sitemaps, connect your site to Google Search Console, optimize it for social media, and more.

Yoast comes with a powerful Redirect feature that lets you easily create 301 redirects which is extremely helpful. It also detects change of URLs and create auto-redirects, so you don’t have any broken links on your website.

For complete SEO setup on your website, follow our ultimate WordPress SEO tutorial for beginners with step by step instructions.

4. Constant Contact

Constant Contact

Email is the most effective and most reliable marketing tool at your disposal as a business owner. It allows you to stay in touch with your users even after they leave your website. This is why we recommend every business owner to start building an email list right away.

Constant Contact is one of the most popular email marketing service providersin the world.

Their platform allows you to build an email lists and send beautiful email newsletters to your subscribers.

It is quick and easy setup for non techy users. It also works well with popular lead generation plugins for WordPress like OptinMonster and WPForms.

Alternatives: Drip and ConvertKit are good alternatives if you want something more advanced, but they are more pricey.

5. OptinMonster

OptinMonster

OptinMonster is the most popular conversion rate optimization software in the market. It allows you to convert abandoning website visitors into email subscribers and customers.

This WordPress plugin and application helps you get more email subscribers, fast.

OptinMonster comes with pre-made high-converting opt-in forms that you can easily customize with their drag & drop builder. Their powerful display targeting features allow you to personalize the campaigns for each user, so you can show the right message at the right time.

It’s a great solution for bloggers, business websites, and eCommerce websites. Basically if you want to make more money from your website traffic, then you need OptinMonster.

It helps you recover abandoned cart sales, convert website visitors, and grow your email list. Read these case studies to see how much success other businesses are having by using OptinMonster.

We use OptinMonster on WPBeginner and our other websites.

6. Sucuri

Sucuri

Security should be a top priority for all online business owners. Sucuri offers a WordPress security plugin and web application firewall that is probably one of the best protection you can get for your site.

They monitor and protect your site from DDoS, malware threats, XSS attacks, brute force attacks, and basically every other type of attack. If you don’t have a firewall on your website, then you need to add one today.

To learn more on how to strengthen the security of your website and protect your business, see our ultimate WordPress security guide with step by step instructions for beginners.

Sucuri help us block hundreds of thousands of attacks every month on WPBeginner.

7. UpdraftPlus

UpdraftPlus

UpdraftPlus is the most popular WordPress backup plugin on the market. It allows you to set up automatic backups and safely store them on a remote location like Google Drive, Dropbox, S3, Rackspace, FTP, email, and more.

It also makes it super easy to restore your website from a backup. Their base plugin is free, but they also have a paid plan with extra features and priority support.

Alternative: BackupBuddy and VaultPress (Jetpack Backups) are also excellent solutions, but they are paid only.

8. WP Rocket

WP Rocket

WP Rocket is the best WordPress caching plugin on the market. It allows you to instantly improve your WordPress website speed and performance with no technical skills required.

It automatically turns on recommended WordPress caching settings like gzip compression, page cache, and cache pre-loading. You can also turn on optional features like lazy loading images, CDN support, DNS pre-fetching, minification, and more to further improve page load times.

WP-Rocket also offer Imagify which is a free image optimization service to help you speed up your website even further.

This is by far the easiest and most beginner friendly caching plugin. The only downside is that it’s paid only.

Alternative: WP Super Cache is free, but it’s not as powerful or easy.

9. Beaver Builder

Beaver Builder

Beaver Builder is the best drag and drop page builder for WordPress. It allows you to easily customize your website design and create custom page layouts without writing any code.

Business owners love it because it lets them create completely custom landing pages within minutes without having to hire a developer.

Alternative: Divi plugin is a great alternative.

10. MemberPress

MemberPress

MemberPress allows you to build online communities and membership sites using WordPress. It is the best WordPress membership plugin in the market.

You can create subscriptions and restrict content to users based on their subscription plans. It works with all popular payment solutions and plays nicely with online stores using WooCommerce. For detailed instructions, see our guide on how to make a membership website in WordPress.

11. CSS Hero

CSS Hero

WordPress themes rely on CSS for the visual appearance of your website. If you want to make customization to your theme, then you will have to learn CSS. This can be time-consuming for a business owner.

CSS Hero is a WordPress plugin that allows you to customize any WordPress theme without writing a single line of code. Check out our review of how CSS Hero makes WordPress customization easy for more information.

It’s not a drag & drop page builder like BeaverBuilder that helps you build custom layouts. Rather it helps you customize any WordPress theme available in the market within minutes to match your needs.

12. SeedProd

SeedProd

SeedProd is the best WordPress maintenance mode and coming soon page plugin that helps you collect leads and grow your followers even when your website is not available.

If your site is under construction, then you can use it to create beautiful coming soon landing pages. It includes features like integration with your email marketing services, countdown timer, social media integration, and dozens of templates to choose from.

13. LearnDash

LearnDash

LearnDash is the best WordPress LMS plugin to create and sell online courses from your WordPress website. It has a drag and drop course builder that allows you to quickly add lessons, quizzes, and assignments to build your course.

For detailed step by step instructions, see our guide on how to create online courses in WordPress using LearnDash.

14. G Suite

G Suite

G Suite is a suite of web applications like email, docs, spreadsheets, etc. Created by Google, this powerful set of office applications is cheaper, easy to deploy, and hassle free.

It allows you to save costs on software licenses, hardware, hiring IT staff, managing backups, and more. Most importantly it allows you to use professional email addresses with your own business domain name right inside Gmail.

15. SEMRush

SEMRush

SEMRush is an all-in-one marketing toolkit for digital marketing professionals and business owners. It comes with powerful tools to help you improve your SEO, paid traffic strategy, social media, and content & PR strategy.

It also helps you gather competitive intelligence on your competitors, so you can outrank them and dominate your industry.

It helps you do keyword research, backlink audit, track brand mentions, spy on competitors, discover best-performing posts on social media, ad strategy analysis, and more.

These short paragraphs are not enough to describe the true power of SEMRush. It’s a must have tool in our list for serious business owners.

Alternative: Ahrefs is an excellent alternative.

16. LiveChat

LiveChat

LiveChat Inc is the best live chat support software for businesses and e-commerce websites. It is super easy to use and allows you to quickly add live chat on your WordPress website.

It has tons of customization options, and it comes with a mobile app, so you can stay connected while on the go.

It integrates with your existing support software, CRM, email marketing, and other tools. Most importantly, it loads fast and offers a great user experience.

17. Pretty Links Pro

Pretty Links Pro

Pretty Links Pro is one of the best link management plugins for WordPress. It allows you to easily manage affiliate links while making it easy make your affiliate links short and memorable for sharing.

It is the perfect tool for affiliate marketers, podcasters, business owners, and others who want to easily create short URLs in WordPress.

18. Shared Counts

Shared Counts

Shared Counts is the best WordPress social media plugin that allows you to easily add beautiful social sharing buttons on your website.

It also shows share counts, which helps you add social proof to your website.

While there are many paid solutions available, this free plugin beats them all in code quality and performance.

We use SharedCount on a lot of our website because it offers an easy out of the box solution for both beginners and developers.

19. WP Mail SMTP

WP Mail SMTP

By default, WordPress uses the PHP mail function to send emails. The problem is that either WordPress hosting companies don’t have this feature setup properly, or they block it to prevent abuse.

This basically means that you and your users may not receive important email notifications from your WordPress site.

WP Mail SMTP solves this problem by sending WordPress emails using a proper SMTP mail server. To learn more, see our article on how to fix WordPress not sending email issue.

20. Insert Headers and Footers

Insert Headers and Footers

While managing your WordPress site, you may sometimes need to add code snippets to your WordPress header or footer for verification, inserting ad retargeting scripts, etc.

Insert Headers and Footer allows you to easily add code snippets to your WordPress site without editing your theme files. Take a look at our tutorial on how to add header and footer code in WordPress.

This free plugin is extremely handy for business owners.

21. TablePress

TablePress

For a long time WordPress editor didn’t have an option to create tables in your posts or pages. The new WordPress block editor comes with a table block, but it lacks many features.

TablePress solves this problem by allowing you to add beautiful tables to your website. It keeps your table data separate from your posts and pages which means you can embed the table anywhere and update it from one single location.

Most importantly, you don’t have to write any HTML or CSS. See our guide on how to easily create tables in WordPress.

22. WPML

WPML

By default, WordPress does not allow you to easily create a multilingual website. This is a challenge for businesses who cater to a multi-lingual customer base in different geographic locations.

This is where you’ll need WPML. It is a WordPress multi-lingual plugin that allows you to easily create multi-lingual websites with WordPress.

It is very easy to use, SEO friendly, and helps you easily create content in different languages.

23. WooCommerce

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is the most popular eCommerce plugin for WordPress used by over 4 million websites.

It comes with all the powerful features that you need to create an online store.

Over the last few years, WooCommerce has established itself as the most dominant eCommerce plugin for WordPress. There’s even a WooCommerce ecosystem now with dedicated WooCommerce hostingWooCommerce themes, and WooCommerce plugins available.

24. Grammarly

Grammarly

Grammarly is a popular online grammar checker tool available as a browser addon for Google Chrome, Firefox, and even Microsoft Edge. It checks for spelling, grammar, and contextual errors as you write your posts.

The free version is sufficient for most people. However you can always update to the premium version to unlock plagiarism detector, vocabulary enhancement suggestions, and more advanced features.

This concludes our list of the best WordPress plugins for business websites.

Depending on your business, you may not need to use all plugins mentioned in our list, but it’s pretty common for our readers to end up using at least 18 out of 24 solutions that we have mentioned.

Now that you have the best WordPress plugins, you may also want to see our article on how to increase your website traffic (27 proven tips).

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

 


Full Credit: WPBeginner

Source URL: https://www.wpbeginner.com/showcase/24-must-have-wordpress-plugins-for-business-websites/

Open Educational Resources (OER)

Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching and learning materials that you may freely use and reuse at no cost, and without needing to ask permission. Unlike copyrighted resources, OER have been authored or created by an individual or organization that chooses to retain few, if any, ownership rights.

In some cases, that means you can download a resource and share it with colleagues and students. In other cases, you may be able to download a resource, edit it in some way, and then re-post it as a remixed work. How do you know your options? OER often have a Creative Commons license or other permission to let you know how the material may be used, reused, adapted, and shared.

From a single point of access in OER Commons, you can search, browse, and evaluate resources in OER Commons’ growing collection of over 50,000 high-quality OER. Here are some curated collections to start exploring:

 

The worldwide OER movement is rooted in the human right to access high-quality education. This shift in educational practice is not just about cost savings and easy access to openly licensed content; it’s about participation and co-creation. Open Educational Resources (OER) offer opportunities for systemic change in teaching and learning content through engaging educators in new participatory processes and effective technologies for engaging with learning.

 

 

 

Open Education Practice

The move to open education practice (OEP) is more than a shift in content, it is an immersive experience in collaborative teaching and learning. OEP leverages open education resources (OER) to expand the role of educators, allowing teachers to become curators, curriculum designers, and content creators. In sharing teaching tools and strategies, educators network their strengths and improve the quality of education for their students. 

With an open practice, educators are able to adjust their content, pedagogies, and approach based on their learners, without the limitations of “all rights reserved”.

Let’s talk business & technology

The Small to Medium Enterprise sector in South Africa is under a lot of pressure; the stubbornly high rate of unemployment requires that businesses become economically and societally successful in order to contribute to the country’s GDP and to create job opportunities.

Entrepreneurs are not exempt from this pressure. As a matter of opinion, it appears that the responsibility to convert the astounding failure of government(s) to create jobs and create scalable businesses into opportunities sits squarely on the very shoulders of aspiring and already achieved business men and women.

 

Of course, the conditions to achieve this economical and societal success aren’t the easiest to overcome (and perhaps they aren’t supposed to be), otherwise everyone would pursue entrepreneurship and the world would be an oyster.

Here are some of these conditions that I’m referring to:

  • Job seekers still prefer corporate careers;
  • The second recession since ’94 has dropped confidence in the economy;
  • For many reasons (risk, society, etc) there’s a low tolerance for failure of entrepreneurs;
  • There are expected discrepancies between funding mandates & entrepreneur’s eligibility;
  • The oversupply of entrepreneurs in saturated markets is not showing signs of decline;
  • Overwhelming failures by Enterprise Development initiatives to realize real transformation;
  • The easily accessible forms of capital require security and collateral that entrepreneurs lack;
  • Attracting & retaining top talent is increasingly difficult within small business; and
  • Priority sectors getting government support are capital intensive and often monopolized.

 

South African businesses, small and large, that have garnered an appreciation for these conditions understand the value of the competitive advantage offered by technology. The result of this is seen in industry leaders across various sectors such as insurance and financial services; over the past few years, they demonstrated how the power of digitalisation can directly drive positive over-all growth and impact a business’ bottom-line.

It goes without saying that entrepreneurs, managers and customers respectively recognize technology as a tool for growth, to operate effectively and engaging businesses.

However, I’m not purporting that technology/digitalisation will soon be an answer to everything. We must recognize that accessing markets, networks and the necessary early stage financial support is as important to empowering businesses in a way that guarantees that is aligned and desirable to the nation’s 2030 ambitions.

I’m not the first, but I’m purporting that we adopt the aggressive mindset that says we’re to take advantage of the tools and opportunities that are near us, economically exploit these opportunities in a way that ensures meaningful economic participation & positive societal impact and build an ecosystem of financial & high moral value exchange.

What are your thoughts? Let’s talk business & technology…

@TsholoSehume on popular social platforms

By: Tsholo Sehume (MaruAfrica, CEO) – 19 January 2019


Image Src: The Real Estate of South African Entrepreneurship (www.seedengine.co.za)

Stand out venues

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Technology upgraded

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Deliver fresh news

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