Young innovators convene international conference for D’Kar

BG reporter
Wednesday, 17 June 2015
Young innovators convene international conference for D’Kar

It appears the youth of Botswana have come to embrace the idea of innovation and the Vision 2016’s pillar of ‘A Prosperous, Productive and Innovative Nation’. A youth owned enterprise that focuses on innovation and development of communities called, These Hands GSSE, is in collaboration with international partners to host a 13-country development summit for innovators scheduled for August 3-14 in D’Kar near Gantsi. 

The two-week International Development Design summit’s main focus is for its participants to work with communities to identify livelihood challenges and prototype solutions to address those challenges. Innovators ranging from community developers to health professionals, engineers to designers, a local and international candidate pool will partake at the summit. A statement from the local summit partners, These Hands GSSE, says they are organising the summit with the aid of University of Botswana, and the Botswana Innovation Hub. 

Participants are from Botswana, North America, Asia, Latin America, Europe, and other African countries. Local lead organiser, who is also co-founder and CEO of These Hands GSSE, Thabiso Mashaba said, “As we prepare to host IDDS D’Kar 2015 in Botswana, it is useful to present a local perspective on what development might mean in an African context and how the value of indigenous knowledge in design might open up new pathways of understanding for our participants,” Mashaba believes that local communities also need a human-centered approach to development that can also bring them an income. “These partners will support projects that emerge from the summit after it is over, providing resources, mentorship, and workspace for innovators looking to take their prototypes to the next level.” It is planned that the participants will co-create appropriate technologies with the communities around D’Kar to make life a bit easier in the tough desert environment in which they live.

The summit, a two-week, hands-on design experience, is organised by the International Development Innovation Network (IDIN) and funded by the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Global Development Lab, a new entity within the USAID that brings together diverse partners to discover, test, and scale breakthrough solutions to end extreme poverty by 2030. “The San community in D’Kar Botswana is incredibly innovative and artistic, but has yet to translate that skill set into economic growth,” the summit organisers have observed. 

Participants will work closely with local community members to learn more about how challenges in D’Kar may be addressed with low-cost technologies and systems. Participants will then begin to build and test a prototype to address a problem presented by the community.  At the close of the summit, IDIN will welcome this year’s participants into the growing IDIN Network, which now includes more than 450 innovators from around the world. IDIN supports its Network members with funding, mentorship, technical assistance, workshop space, and tools for staying connected.

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