In 2017, the innovationXchange ran the MIKTA (Mexico, Indonesia, Korea, Turkey, and Australia) Education in Emergencies Challenge. The Challenge called for new solutions to support the delivery of education in emergency situations, particularly for girls. The challenge attracted over 360 innovations for implementation in 60 countries. Seven winners were announced by Foreign Minister the Hon. Julie Bishop on 14 December 2017.
One of the dilemmas of running a challenge is that there are more great ideas than we can support. In the past, innovationXchange challenges and initiatives focused exclusively on supporting challenge winners to scale their innovations. With so many high-potential ideas, we decided to try something different.
The Education in Emergencies Alliance was an open innovation network to support innovators, leverage resources and collaboration tools, and to fuel ongoing innovation in the education in emergencies field.
The Alliance brought together funders and industry expert advisors to support 40 promising innovators emerging out of the MIKTA Education in Emergencies Challenge. These advisors offered hours of support by hosting 60+ Mentor Sessions. They provided feedback and tools for teams to advance their solutions. Throughout, innovators connected and shared their challenges, swapped ideas and inspiration, and learned from each other using the online platform.
Innovator teams connected with advisors around the world to apply human-centred design and progress towards their goals.
What have the innovators gained from the Alliance?
Over the six months of the Alliance, we saw a number of innovators secure competitive funding to progress their business development. They attributed their success directly to the new skills, networks and business model development knowledge they gained through the Alliance. Here is how the Alliance has helped three of our innovators so far...
The Power of Storytelling
Jara is an organization scaling quality education to refugee camps and low-resource/disaster-affected communities through their technology. Through OpenIDEO, they received mentorship and learned the importance of storytelling.
Jara’s pitch video to the 2018 Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge won the first runner up with a prize of US75,000 in May 2018. Jara now have over 15 regions in Nepal interested in their innovation, a renewed business plan and new fundraising models.
One of their storytelling videos has reached over 268,000 people, and they have now employed five more team members. Jara have plans to collaborate further with some of the digital education content creator teams within the Alliance. There is plenty more to come!
“The Alliance has helped us a lot; from teams voting and sharing, to the mentors and seminars, helping with our business plan, and messaging and storytelling required for our submissions into this competition, 100% yes :)"
– Soraya Fouladi, Jara
Thinking outside the box
Power99 Foundation is implementing the ‘Broad Class Listen to Learn Interactive Radio Instruction’ initiative. This is an educational program being delivered by radio in affected areas in Pakistan where disaster victims are residing in relief camps or in temporary shelters such as outdoor classrooms, tree shade classrooms, or other public structures.
By sharing her work vulnerably and openly with others, Fakhira from Power99 found new ways to improve her programs and storytelling, and inspired multiple innovator teams to successfully scale their work to over 100,000 beneficiaries in the hardest-to-reach parts of Pakistan. Her approach: being traditional enough to integrate across larger partners, but innovative enough to inspire and leave a lasting impact on the children she serves.
"Before working with EiE I wasn't thinking out of the box. I was only thinking about focusing on my local community and my organization. But working with the EiE community has shown me the value in seeing what other people around the world are doing. This community inspired me and I learned a lot."
— FAKHIRA NAJIB, POWER99
Swapping skills with other innovators
We saw many innovators support each other by swapping their skills and key lessons learned through their work. Sharing capacity and knowledge helped others save time and energy finding answers to their issues. Alliance member Buddha Burman from technology for development company boomNbuzz discussed best practices with other teams around connectivity and tech solutions in hard-to-reach communities. This provided essential insights to other innovators interested in developing in this space.
A mentor from Google’s Jigsaw team advised the Alliance:
“Leverage existing systems. Every system you don’t have to recreate gives you exponentially more time back.”
— MARC HOWARD, GOOGLE
Three Grant-Winning Innovations
To support and incentivise innovators to participate in the Alliance, flash grants were provided to Alliance members with the greatest potential. During the Alliance, idea teams worked on crafting their storytelling skills by creating two-minute pitch videos about their work. As the Alliance came to a close, three winners were selected by DFAT and the Alliance participants themselves. The winners were awarded small grants to further progress their prototypes.
And the winners are...
Playground Ideas supports anyone, anywhere to build a stimulating space for play using only local materials, tools, and skills. They plan to implement interactive play spaces for refugee communities in Asia or Africa.
Light of Hope has a solar-powered, portable, multimedia solution allowing teachers to turn any space into an interactive learning environment. They are implementing the program for refugee communities in Bangladesh.
InnoKido is a traveling STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) education program and classroom that builds 21st century digital skills for refugees and disadvantaged children in Turkey.
Congratulations to the winning teams, and special thanks to all innovators, mentors and our partners, AECOM, OpenIDEO and Global Knowledge Initiative!