Grassroots AI: The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Collaborative Research

IndabaX ZA Roadshow

Masakhane are co-hosting an IndabaX ZA Roadshow with our sister organisation Sisonke Biotik, and you're cordially invited to join us!

Through the lens of Ubuntu, research takes on a new form. In this form, instead of the world of research being a siloed competitive space reserved for professors and PhDs, it becomes a participatory and multidisciplinary space, where each person's contribution is valued. This style of doing participatory research has been uncommon in ML research up until now... and it turns out it's highly effective at producing top quality research! Find out more about these initiatives, how to join and how to start your own by joining our event

When: 10th of September from 15h00 - 17h30 SAST (convert to your timezone)

Where: We'll be kicking off on crowdcast HERE but you can register in advance HERE


  • Grassroots AI: Unreasonable Effectiveness of Collaborative Research (15:00 - 15:45) [Crowdcast link HERE]

By Jade Abbott, Co-founder Masakhane & Chris Fourie, Co-founder Sisonke Biotik

  • Discord Social (15:45 - 16:30) [Discord Server link HERE]

featuring rooms for:

    • Masakhane - hosted by Chris Emeze

    • Sisonke Biotik - hosted by Brad Segal

    • Studying Further - hosted by Oreva Ahia

    • Collaborative Paper Writing - hosted by Angela Fan

    • Starting your own grassroots movement - hosted by Jade Abbott

    • Bridging Disciplines - Chris Fourie

    • Games Room - hosted by Archie Arrakal

    • Dancefloor - hosted by DJ WON [a.k.a Wilhelmina Nekoto]

  • A Collaborative Research Panel (16:30 - 17:15) [Crowdcast link HERE - note that it's a different link]


    • Rosanne Liu, ML Collective, Google Research

    • Oreva Ahia, Masakhane, University of Washington

    • Archana Arakkal, Sisonke Biotik, MIT, Synthesis Technologies

    • Yacine Jernite, BigScience, Hugging Face

    • Bonaventure Dossou, Masakhane, MILA


Rosanne Liu

ML Collective, Google Brain
Rosanne Liu is a research scientist in Google Brain, and co-founder and executive director of ML Collective. Before that she was a founding member of Uber AI. She obtained her PhD in Computer Science at Northwestern University. She serves as the Diversity Equity & Inclusion co-chair of ICLR 2022.

Oreva Ahia

Masakhane, University of Washington
Oreva is a first year CS. PhD student at the University of Washington. She has worked at InstaDeep as Research Engineer specifically focusing on Pidgin translation.. She was an early member of Masakhane and has published numerous works in the space of low-resourced NLP and machine translation

Archana Arrakal

Sisonke Biotik, MIT, Synthesis Technologies
As a thought leader in the AI and data space, Archana's job involves providing clients in the finance sector with innovative solutions based on emerging technologies. She is also a PhD fellow at the world-renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology and cofounder of a grassroots community initiative called SisonkeBiotik. Her ultimate goal is to see the continent-wide adoption of AI, something she believes can provide solutions for the betterment of the healthcare sector as a whole.

Bonaventure Dossou

Masakhane, Jacobs University Bremen , MILA
Bonaventure is pursuing his Masters in Data Engineering at Jacobs University Bremen, Germany. He is currently a research intern at Mila Quebec AI Institute. As a core member of Masakhane, he's published numerous papers in the field of low-resourced NLP with a particular focus on the Fon language

Yacine Jernite

BigScience, HuggingFace
Yacine is a research scientist at Hugging Face, where he works on conditional text generation, long form question answering, and explaining model predictions. He additionally is a core member of the BigScience initiative, a one-year long research workshop on very large language models

Event Hosts

Jade Abbott

Masakhane, Retro Rabbit
Jade Abbott is the Machine Learning Lead at Retro Rabbit in South Africa. She has an MSc Computer Science from the University of Pretoria and works as a software engineer across Africa in every field from fintech, to NGOs, to startups. In 2019, she co-founded Masakhane, an open research grassroots natural language processing initiative for Africans, by Africans, which aims to spur research into NLP for African languages,

Chris Fourie

Sisonke Biotik, Wits University (RAIL Lab), LifeQ
Chris Fourie is co-founder of SisonkeBiotik, and medical doctor turned health data scientist at LifeQ, trying to use the powers of AI for social good. he is currently busy with a Computer Science masters and interested in research at the intersections of theoretical / computational neuroscience and machine learning.