Marc Sloan created Covid Tech Support to help charities adapt to the digital world for free

“Five years ago, I co-founded a venture-backed AI startup called Context Scout - an automated search services for the web. After many unsuccessful attempts to sell our product, the trajectory of Context Scout was not looking good. COVID-19 made things even worse.

Image: Marc Sloan
Image: Marc Sloan

I am Marc Sloan living in London, UK. While I was figuring out how to shut the company down, I wanted to use my spare time to help others affected by the pandemic.

I joined a Slack community online filled with like-minded technical people, who wanted to help. However, I noticed that as more and more people were signing up to help every day, very few knew what to work on. To bridge this gap, I created Covid Tech Support.

Covid Tech Support finds volunteer digital talent to help non-profits, charities, and COVID projects get online. Every day we work with our volunteer community code4covid, consisting of over 1500 talented volunteers from around the world. To date, we have built projects and teams for over 150 organisations including Crisis, Mencap, COVID Mutual Aid as well as assisting community groups and local charities all over the world. We have also been nominated for a Tech4Good Award.

The COVID-19 lockdown has massively impacted the charities and public services the most. The funding has dried up due to an economic recession, and because of quarantine, services have to move online. However, charities are often ill-equipped to make this transition. Hence, the volunteers who have valuable technical skills and experience have come together to help the charities and other non-profits overcome this challenge.

Image: Covid Tech Support
Image: Covid Tech Support

My favourite project was for a charity called the Afyah Support Group, created by Khadija Ahmed from South East London to prevent and alleviate the isolation of underprivileged women from all social and ethnic backgrounds. Through organising social events, fitness sessions, mental health workshops, and incubating female entrepreneurs, Afyah has supported and empowered thousands of BAME women. The quarantining measured brought about by COVID-19 meant that Afyah could no longer organise their support services at a time when its community was losing their basic livelihoods. It also meant that Afyah could no longer fund itself through its markets and tea socials. What had been organised as a social collective for years now had to go digital or else it may not survive. A team of our volunteers helped to keep Afyah running by training the volunteers to use digital tools, carrying out an online survey of its community to understand their COVID-19 needs, and using the survey findings to help Afyah put together bids for grant funding. Without our help, the organisation may not have survived the pandemic.

During the pandemic, I have been enormously impressed by the degree to which people put their hand up to help out. I firmly believe that the best way to create opportunities and kindness for yourself is to create opportunities and kindness for other people."

You Humanity pays respect and gratitude to Marc and the technical volunteer community for going above and beyond to contribute towards Humanity.

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