Identify engagement managers

Engagement managers in Spot The Future play mostly the role of connecting us to the local hacker/civic hacker/social innovation communities in Armenia, Egypt and Georgia – all countries in which ER is not present.

We are looking for people that are embedded in those communities, and recognized by them; fluent in the local language; good social media traction. We employ them to connect them with that scene and drive signup. Notice that “social media” in Armenia and Georgia means essentially Facebook, the only game in town. Armenia reported 560K FB users in November 2013 – 20% of the population, and around half of all Internet users (source). Georgia (4.5M inhabitants) apparently has 1.6M Facebook users (source). Egypt is a different ballgame: 85M inhabitants, reported to have a whopping 13M Facebook users. Egypt also has good Twitter penetration: 2% of the population are monthly active Twitter users (source): that’s 1.6M users, and we can generally propagate through Twitter much faster than through Facebook.

Nadia suggested hiring her old school mate Sultan Al Qassemi for Egypt. He is actually Emirati, but has a huge following in Egypt (320K+ Twitter followers!). He looks like a good catch to me. Can we find good people in the other two countries?


Hi, well I guess that after re-creating this task comments got erased, re-posting them according to date. The overview of the Engagement management and people I’ve talked to is here. Here’s what we have so far, kind of like our strongest options:

For Georgia: Inge Snip, journalist living in Tbilisi for 6 years and speaking the language seems really cool and committed. Knows the civil society, in the position to reach out to people outside her networks. Pretty high social media traction.

For Armenia: we’re agreed with George, also per Alberto’s suggestion to keep the interns as available on a complementary basis (they’re not so experienced) and hire someone else.  I’ve just talked to Samvel Martorosyan, a freelancer in his 40s, expert on information security and crowdsourcing projects, he’s well connected by either still hasn’t understood fully what the project is about or he’s rather shy. Very high social media traction.

For Egypt: Moustafa Amin the only candidate - very popular, partly because of a career as a singer. Co-founder of the biggest platform in English for Egyptian news (107k) (107K likes on facebook); Social media footprint doesn’t reflect his work of interest to us… but seemed to understand exactly what we want. Good recommendation from UNDP Egypt.

This is a hard one guys, as we need to make a decision this week. Suggestions?


Update 19th Feb by Matthias:

“Asked my Georgian contact to investigate” Just messaged Lasha, a friend of mine from Georgia but now living in

Amsterdam, if he can recommend us an adequate person. Could well be, since

he’s very much a prototypical Georgian Edgeryder. Let’s see.

Update 19th February by Noemi: George was very optimistic about this and said he has a few people in mind, he will get back to me with concrete names. Aside from that, their office is up for helping us all the way with engagement, also by scouts work for interesting people. They are just recruiting two interns who can supplement the work and be full time available for us, so to speak.

I insisted that we do get a person who should be our direct contact and work

with us all the way, since the timeline is too stretched and we probably

can’t afford to run tasks through their office all the time. More on this

early next week.

Why are we not doing an open call for engagement managers?

I think doing an open call is a good way to get engagement going and creates trust. I am not too happy with this closed selection of people, if they were to apply in an open call it would be much much better. E.g. Egyptian candidate: Politics and political websites engage a lot of input but this is not where the action is. Also we have mixed experience in recruiting people recommended from within the insitutional spaces in the past…Sultan is great but he’s in the same space of polemic politics, building…not so much. Any reason why we can’t do a public call?

Opening up the space for candidates

Ok so after a chat with [Nadia] yesterday it looks like Moustafa is not our guy.

As for the other two, there’s an idea to invite them online on the platform as part of their recruitment process. Hence the creation of a public Spot the Future group where they could engage with us and we can see that they’re up for interacting online (one of the most important responsibility in the gig).

There’s a chance this process can last a while, and if it’s open it has to be so for other people on the platform… and if we intend to call more potential engagement managers who are actually competing for the job then I think this must be disclosed somewhere.

What is easier is to invite just the options we have now (Samvel is already registered) and have them say hi and you can ask them other questions and see how that works…

But for this we need to make the group public. And before, go public with a general Spot the Future launch / announcement today.

Update from my lead in Georgia!

I’ve finally made progress to identify a candidate in Georgia, as a third-degree connection via my Georgian friends Lasha and Lela. So I got this message right now from Lela:

“Hi Matthias, After considering various options Nino Japiashvili is the best option. By education journalist, she has worked extensively with various media in Georgia and has wide social media presence. Currently she is lecturing in the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs a course related to Web Journalism and new media. She is very enthusiastic to be part of the network. I will send you both a message so that you can contact each other.”

As you can see by the name, Nino Japiashvili is native Georgian. Lela already introduced us to each other, and I have invited Nino to join the public Spot the Future group so we can consider her and Inge Snip as possible engagement managers for Georgia. Hope it’s still on time … sorry it took so long, yet I also think that the timeline of the project is quite tight …


Mmh, it seems Nino did not sign up to the platform yet. I just sent her another message with a link to the call, explaining that she can still introduce herself tomorrow. But I don’t have high hopes that this will still work out. I’m sorry, but for the time being this is the best I could come up with …