Today was another exciting day for us as we announced a partnership between ExtendedBITS and RLabs to start the first ICT Innovation Incubator in Somaliland. This will provide young people from Somaliland the opportunity to not just gain valuable ICT and Entrepreneurship experience but also provide an opportunity to grow a new breed of African Technology Entrepreneurs in Somaliland.
This collaboration has been made possible through the ExtendedBITS partnership with VC4Africa and RLabs partnership with One Percent Club. Over the next few months we will be working towards setting up infrastructure in Somaliland and start this new journey of driving Innovation and the Social Revolution at the Horn of Africa.
Last week the RLabs Nigeria partners had an interesting call discussing the rollout of the new project that will be using technology to address the problems of HIV. This partnership between Youth for Technology and RLabs will be supported by Indigo Trust who is know for its impact investments in Africa.
The next few weeks the teams in South Africa, Nigeria and United States will be working towards its launch date with a training bootcamp for young people aged 16 – 25. Not only will they be able to benefit from digital training but they will also become part of the larger RLabs Global Movement where we hope to leverage the expertise of our network.
The technology training with the young people will include the following components:
1) Social Media for Social Change
2) Digital Change Agents
3) JamiiX Mobile Counselling
4) Digital Storytelling
The planned launch is for January 2012 and with only a few weeks to prepare our team is excited to see RLabs Nigeria making an impact in the communities growing the Social Revolution.
In the past it was common just to think in one way to solve a specific problem. The norm was to have a specific starting point and then using a predefined step-by-step approach to work towards the solution. The road to the solution was therefore always clearly marked with one direction and innovation was sometimes rendered as being very difficult using this approach. However, applying these types of methodologies are more complex when it comes to solving critical social problems especially where resources are limited and communities are marginalized. The journey of innovation and creativity is more than just a one-way sign-posted route but one that should be free from limitations and assumptions.
A shift of focus is required from the Design World to the Design for the World which will lead to even more exciting innovations that can have a major social impact. The design approach should be one of people-based and not just having people as the end-user. This is part of Design Thinking as an approach to find innovative solutions where the aim is using your community as a way of finding more creative and disruptive ways of solving problems.
“If designers are going to realise the full potential of design thought, then they should also learn to anlayse how the situations that frame design practice are
themselves constructed” Margolin
One of the most innovative companies on the planet Apple Inc. observe and are driven by design thinking methods. They put prototypes in the hands of children to discover how they interact with their technologies.
One of the greatest lessons we’ve learnt at RLabs has been to apply the methodology of Design Thinking into making a social impact. Like 2 South Africans did in 1991 with the idea of the Hippo Water Roller (See image) which provides women and children with the opportunity to move water with a capacity of 90litres without difficulty and its been adopted across Africa. This innovation was not created in a fancy office but with the people on the ground and is part of the success of this innovation. RLabs prides itself in coming up with localized community-driven innovations and innovative services like our mobile counseling services, undisciplined academy approaches and social media factory which has people at the center of everything.
If you really want to make a difference and do so creatively then an alternative design mindset is required and who knows the lasting impact you could have on the world.
As part of the continuous growth of RLabs to empower and equip communities especially youth, our Nigeria partner Youth for Technology received a welcomed grant from Indigo Trust to provide peer-to-peer sexual health counselling in the southeastern and Niger Delta regions of Nigeria.
The project aims to equip young people with the tools to be able to express themselves effectively online and will provide them with training around ethics, sexual health and personal responsibility. While the youth counsellors will use social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to tell the stories of their difficult backgrounds, the counselling aspect of their work will be done via SMS to achieve maximum reach.