When a group of determined youth realise their potential as changemakers, they can transform their and the lives of others for greater good as social innovators.
Nepali youth hold this potential and can cultivate other youth to become social innovators. Through ME=WE mindset and design thinking process that fosters radical collaboration by co-designing, INNOCO initiates youth to contribute to transforming their and the lives of others for greater social good and change. INNOCO is a research initiative supported by Zayed University (Dubai, UAE) that facilitates “innovation co-design” through connection + collaboration + contribution.
UAE/NEPAL/CONNECT (UNC) commenced in 2016 with the objective of conducting a site research in Nepal to create the Nepal Youth Cluster (NYC). The goal was to co-design a 9-day social innovation bootcamp with NYC, so as to really understand and develop a program that pertained to the needs of the youth. UNC2017 bootcamp was completed by 16 Nepali youth in Kathmandu, working alongside expert facilitators from the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, France and the United States. The bootcamp culminated in eight social project pitches, focusing on a wide variety of issues such as adult education, advancing new agricultural technology, women’s empowerment, eco-tourism, waste management, and promoting animal welfare. With a strong commitment for social innovation, NYC initiated to reform themselves in October 2017 to create an independent, youth-led NGO called Nepal Youth Innovators (NYI), which was registered this month in Kathmandu, Nepal. Their goal is to support the development of the member projects pitched at the UNC2017 bootcamp and further the profile of youth innovation projects for social change in the nation.
For the third consecutive year INNOCO returned to Kathmandu from 18 - 23 August 2018 for UNC2018: Reunion and Documentary Making. The reunion was a one-day event on 18 August, bringing together the changemakers from past UNC programs to share their learning in changemaking pathways. It aimed to strengthen the local support system with NYI furthering their mission, and to discuss challenges and potential steps for individual projects.
To name a few, “Champak Namuna Homestay” in the Changunarayan Municipality of Bhaktapur district is an example of one such project. Led by Sajana Bhadel, who was a UNC2017 bootcamp participant and current President of Girls Empowered by Travel NEPAL (GET NEPAL); her mission is to address the economic issues faced by women in the village and nuture a support system for them. Also, Pabitra Majhi, a UNC2016 participant from Sarlahi District and current INNOCO Research Assistant with Zayed University is a good example of the ideal NYI member. Concurrently she is a well-respected community leader and continues to enhance her project, “Saahasi - The Brave Women” aiming to empower marginalized women through education and financial independency. She credits the UNC programs run by INNOCO as fundamental to building her confidence in interacting with a wide range of local and international mentors and social sector leaders. These projects are supported by NYI under the leadership of Amrit Giri (NYI President). Through his efforts, NYI is set up as a social enterprise NGO and is working with the INNOCO team to develop a comprehensive organisational framework and vision to support all youth members and expand their ecosystem.