skip to content

Tech for Social Good // Research

Open source software in India, Kenya, Egypt, and Mexico

In 2020, we published our report on the challenges and opportunities at the intersection of Open Source Software in the Social Sector. The first report covered open source tools that were conceived or driven in high-income countries, such as the United States. Since then, we’ve focused our open source work on the digital public goods (DPGs), most of which are created and adopted to address challenges that low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) face. To ensure DPG sustainability and inclusive design, we must understand how to support open source ecosystems in LMICs. For this research project, GitHub partnered with OBI Digital Solutions to look at OSS communities, initiatives, opportunities, and challenges in four LMICs:

🇮🇳

India

🇰🇪

Kenya

🇪🇬

Egypt

🇲🇽

Mexico

The full report, including the research methodology, will be out later this year.

MozFest 2022

We presented early research findings at MozFest in March 2022. Watch the video below to learn more about the themes and country insights.

Key Themes


We explored five key themes in the research project. Read below to find out what each of these themes covered:


  • Community Drivers

    Building open source communities, social dynamics to participation, and global technology influencers

  • Language, Culture and Education

    OSS in high education, non-traditional education routes to OSS, spoken language and regional differences

  • Social Sector and Digital Public Goods

    Social sector challenges in using and producing OSS, where the social sector contributed to digital public goods

  • Government and Politics

    OSS governmental policies and government-adopted digital public goods

  • Sustainability and Finance

    Intellectual property, perceptions of OSS, foreign investments, (un)sustainable funding, and sustainability through community building

OSS drivers in each country

In each of the four countries we explored, OSS is used and produced across sectors: private, government / public, and social. However, there are clear sectoral drivers of OSS in each country:

  • 🇮🇳

    India Corporations

  • 🇰🇪

    Kenya Social sector

  • 🇪🇬

    Egypt Start-ups

  • 🇲🇽

    Mexico Civic participation

Insights by country and theme


Select one or all themes below to display insights for India. We will add insights from Kenya, Egypt, and Mexico later this year.

Country Insights: India

General Insights

  • OSS consumption was shaped by corporations. Startups, the government, and the social sector are also shaping OSS consumption and production.
  • Experts in all four countries recognized India as the most advanced with OSS.

Community Drivers

  • Diaspora and tech entrepreneur influence has shaped OSS in India, including leaders like Donald Lobo, founder of Project Tech4Dev, and Nandan Nilekani, co-founder of the EkStep Foundation.
  • Cross-border collaboration has increased employment opportunities in OSS.
  • Grassroot efforts to address societal issues, such as emergency healthcare, education, and women’s rights, have driven DPG contributions.

Language, Culture and Education

  • India has 22 official and many more unofficial languages. Most Indian social sector organizations conduct their work in local languages, which has led to a disconnect in OSS and other tech solutions written in English.
  • Some computer science students in India are taught OSS languages and frameworks, though usually not how to contribute and interact with OSS communities
  • The Girlscript Foundation is a strong example of non-traditional OSS education programs.
  • Private, global tech companies run student outreach programs in India, such as GitHub Education’s campus expert program and ThoughtWorks India STEP intern program.

Social Sector and Digital Public Goods (DPGs)

  • India is one of the biggest users of and contributors to DPGs among all LMICs.
  • Out of the four countries, Indian social sector organizations invest the most in OSS and other tech solutions.
  • MOSIP, Divoc, Sunbird, and Glific are four DPGs that were started or are heavily driven in India.
  • Codevelop.fund, Ek Step, and Project Tech4Dev are three Indian organizations that work on the DPGs.

Government and Politics

  • According to the report The State of FOSS in India, Indian national policies on open source exist on paper, though there is still more that can be done to strengthen implementation.
  • The Omidyar Network is working on how the Indian perspective on projects such as Linux and ICANN can be heard.
  • The Indian government is leveraging FOSS libraries for national ID systems, national tax systems, and open APIs.

Sustainability & Finance

  • India has some reliable funding mechanisms for building OSS.
  • Many social sector orgs are also looking to SaaS business models, private sector funds, and paid consultants for long term sustainability
  • Indian funders are also OSS ecosystem builders.

Download the full report - coming soon