Social Innovation Lab, a project created by Astana Hub and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) was launched in 2019. Since then, the lab has announced a competition for a digital innovative project that will assist in protecting children around the world from violence and discrimination. Сandidates can send their project proposals through June 22.
Social Innovation Lab Challenge (SI Lab Challenge) is looking for projects that can help children living in poverty, increase their education quality, and decrease abuse and violence.
This competition is an opportunity to make a big impact for children’s wellbeing and healthy development in Kazakhstan. The Social Innovation Lab and the Kazakh government will work closely together to address acute family problems in the country, and will conduct social experiments to test their methods nationwide.
“This is the first project of its kind, where we were able to unite key ministers in it to solve the lack of oversight of families problems by the government. That is, the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of Population, the Ministry of Healthcare – all of them enthusiastically signed on,” said Social Innovation Lab Director Asset Dossymkhanov.
In addition to this, the Kazakh ministries will provide access to accumulated social data on children’s welfare to help the lab develop a better understanding of each problem’s scale and significance, as well as to measure the effectiveness of any social projects that are adopted.
“We will pick pilot sites like medical institutions and schools. We will monitor how much we can influence certain problems in relation to children,” he said.
According to Dossymkhanov, these digital technologies will create model projects that can be scaled and applied to other countries because children’s problems are systematic and consistent from country to country.
“The same problems appear in the relation to children and violence against them. If the problem is resolved in Kazakhstan, then in principle this solution will be relevant everywhere,” he said.
The Social Initiative Lab will support the best projects in their development, promotion and monetization. While the UNICEF Venture Fund will consider the possibility of financing the best projects, Astana Hub, the capital’s international technopark of IT startups, will provide the opportunity to accelerate those projects through consultations and PR promotions.
The Social Innovation Lab “in the first place, aims at having commercially successful social projects. Often social projects find it extremely difficult to monetize [their projects],” he said.
The competition allows people with any background and beliefs to participate. The only restriction applies to age. Team members have to be 12 years and older.
“This decision to welcome everyone who [has an idea and wants to contribute] allows them to develop ideas most effectively. Our colleagues rightly pointed out that ‘when you look at a problem from within the system, sometimes you can say that it blinds your eyes.’ When we attract developers from external participants, then we can gain a fresh perspective and new view of traditional problems,” Dossymkhanov said.
Social Innovation Lab announced the open call for applications on June 1st, International Child Protection Day. The significance of the day is undervalued by many parents, who believe that if a child is well fed and attends a school, then there is nothing more to worry about. Many parents worldwide are not aware how to communicate effectively with their children about how to manage bullying, internet usage and delaying teenage pregnancies.
The Social Initiative Lab, therefore, will provide a platform to support fresh ideas and projects that can decrease the numbers of such incidents. The Social Initiative Lab has plans to make this new competition an annual event.