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Loomio sets big funding target to take decision making tool to developing nations

The Wellington co-operative behind web-based collaborative decision making tool Loomio is out to raise in the vicinity of several hundred thousand dollars to make its offering into an app and likely text message functionality.

The developments are designed to make Loomio more accessible to people in developing nations, who are less likely to have access to desktops and laptops.

The team of 12 hopes to start crowdfunding in March, possibly using Crowdhoster, the open source platform that lets organisations create custom crowdfunding pages.

Read more: The ultimate guide to crowdfunding in New Zealand

“We’re a values based organisation and we want to reach anybody who wants to organise themselves,” says Alina Siegfried, who calls herself Loomio’s wrangler (she explains the non-hierarchical organisation doesn’t really have job titles).

“Loomio is being used in more affluent nations where people have access to desktops and laptops. It’s not an app on a phone. That’s the goal, to provide a tool in nations where power structures are perhaps corrupt or people are feeling some level of discontent with the way things are being done.”

She says priorities for the development of the app, including platforms, and the SMS framework haven’t been finalised, adding assessing that demand will be a big part of the pledge rewards in the crowdfunding campaign. However, she says the framework would allow Loomio users to send out decision proposals via text, stay in touch with what’s happening in a group they’ve signed up for in Loomio and vote on proposals using their mobile.

There’s no limit to the number of users and groups the organisation wants to attract, she adds.

“We have pretty radical goals in terms of how people use democracy around the world. We’re going quite large with this and planning on it being a global campaign.”

Loomio began development in October 2011 and launched as a beta version last August. It emerged after two Wellington groups, activists from the local Occupy movement and Wellington social enterprise network Enspiral came together to further the goal of disruptive democracy.

Read more: The Kiwi web app out to democratise decision-making

Loomio now has nearly 10,000 users and 3173 groups signed up to use it. About half these groups are using it actively, says Siegfried.

Wellington City Council and some community gardens are among its Kiwi users, while offshore it’s being used by political parties in India and Spain and in the US by members of the open source community.

The 12 worker/members in the cooperative are Viv Maidaborn, Ben Knight, Aaron Thornton, Richard Bartlett, Jon Lemmon, Alanna Krause, Simon Tegg, Matthew Bartlett, Rob Guthrie, Mix Irving, Hannah Salmon and Jesse Doud.

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Amanda Sachtleben is an Auckland writer and social media type, who's also Idealog's former tech editor and business journalist.

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