The world has attached different meanings to the term “support.” For some people, it is ‘almsgiving,’ that is giving back to the community in the name of God, while for some it providing monetary assistance to the needy on special holidays such as Christmas. In development, first world countries offer support to third world countries in the form of development assistance. These are ways individuals and organizations are trying to make the lives of struggling nations, communities, and families stable and peaceful.
International organizations and developed countries can provide monetary assistance to struggling nations, but things will not get better until recipients can more effectively manage that assistance. Stephen Rintoul Davenport IV, an international development professional, identified the demand for a system that could help third world countries better manage the foreign assistance they receive. He has been an advocate of global transparency, accountability, results, citizen engagement, open government, and open data throughout his career.
Stephen has been working in community service since he was just eight years old. His father, Episcopalian Reverend Stephen R Davenport III, was a minister supporting St. Etienne’s Church in Buteau, Haiti. Young Stephen accompanied his father and brother, in search of wells of drinking water. He also contributed to the building of schools and cisterns.
He was born in Murray, Kentucky, to Stephen R Davenport III and Marilyn Burdorf and moved with his family to Washington D.C. when he was 11 years old. While all his friends from school spent their summer breaks at camp, Stephen was working to help the people of Haiti.
Stepping into International Development
Stephen Davenport has adopted a unique approach as an international development professional. He is working to bridge the gap between technology and the third world country governments in open government and transparency of foreign aid resources.
After finishing his high school studies at St. Stephens & St. Agnes School, he went to Washington and Lee University to complete his Bachelor’s of Science. He then enrolled in McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University to acquire a Master’s degree in International Business Administration. He stepped into the IT sector after completing his education in the year 1995. His first job in the IT industry was at KPMG in the United States. Two years later, he joined the Computer Associates in 1997, where he created software for IBM in Brazil . In the year 1999, Stephen was hired as a senior system engineer at the World Bank Group .
Stephen acquired skills in the IT sector and became a part of a non-profit organization, Development Gateway , in the year 2002. His first project while he was at Development Gateway was Aid Management Program (AMP) . The system has been implemented in more than thirty countries. The system was designed to assist governments and development partners in gathering, access, and monitor information on development activities in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program – UNDP . The primary purpose of his system was to enhance the effectiveness of foreign assistance.
Stephen was promoted to the position of Senior Director in the year 2010. After his promotion, he worked on several collaborative projects that are proving beneficial for the industry of international development. After the success of AMP, he launched AidData . It supports a research lab at William & Mary’s Global Research Institute. AidData and the research lab help equip policymakers and practitioners with research and data to improve the quality of foreign aid. Through AidData, policymakers can ensure that the assistance is targeted, monitored, and evaluated correctly.
Another project that is boosting the efforts of international development professionals is Feedback Labs . The development assistance provided to third world countries is, in a way, targeted to improve the lives of its citizens. It is essential that the programs a government launches using such assistance be in alignment with the needs and requirements of the people affected by it. The Feedback Labs is a way to keep the people and their views in the loop. It is a way to ensure that the assistance is helping to address the problems citizens care about.
Stephen’s hard work and struggle does not stop there. He has also worked on OpenGov Hub , a co-location space that includes nearly 50 organizations and 300 people working from Washington, D.C. With the help of this space, international development professionals, policymakers, and engineers are working on over 100 countries around the world on issues of open government.
Stephen Davenport’s efforts are focused primarily on issues of transparency, accountability, and participation. He has helped experts, governments, and civil society collaborates on an international level in a meaningful way. He understands that developing countries need more than just resources, and doing all he can to strengthen weak communities with innovative technical solutions. Stephen Davenport’s efforts are helping countries from Nigeria to Tunisia, and from Argentina to Morocco.