Essentially, this is an end-to-end experience, which begins with good intentions captured in strategies and programs and leads to actions that make a difference with real people trying to have safe lives.
Several elements came together to establish a social responsibility project with sustainable impact: the good intentions and motivation of a few people, introduction and involvement of a dedicated NGO, the motivation to do personal volunteering, and the use of corporate assets, followed by a significant commitment by that corporation (IBM).
Specifically, this all came together to help address one of the global issues that humanity faces today: the refugee crisis.
Social Innovation Challenge and IBM SkillsBuild
It all began for me with an IBM CSR initiative called the Social Innovation Challenge.
Typically the challenge is a series of workshops where a few motivated employees signup in their free time and use multi-disciplinary skills and experiences to come up with feasible solutions to help address a larger societal challenge. Often this happens for and with selected NGOs that can use a boost; they bring in the necessary field experience around the challenge.
In early 2019, IBM Netherlands started a social innovation challenge with Movement On The Ground (MOTG), an NGO that aims to deliver a more dignified, sustainable, and innovative response to the refugee crisis in Europe, more specifically in and around the refugee camps on the Greek islands.
I already felt empathy and sometimes even admiration for people that leave everything behind in order to find a safe or better place and future for their children and themselves. I decided to join about 20 IBM colleagues for this social innovation challenge. Judith, a like-minded and dear friend of mine, also participated. The challenge centered around one main question:
“How can we better prepare refugees for life after a refugee camp?”
In five sessions, IBM, MOTG and some external participants – including a former resident of the refugee camp near Moria, on Lesvos, Greece – worked closely together using the IBM Enterprise Design Thinking methodology. Together, we came up with a learning solution to empower camp residents. The mission statement became:
"Refugee camps are the most inspiring campuses and have the power to create influential global citizens.”