Designing for Children

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During my last month at the UNICEF in Nicaragua I worked with the Social Policy section on various exciting innovations (such as the Sociopreneur initiative.) In the meantime, I got to dive into video footage produced during the first stages of the introduction of design-thinking in the policy-making process in Nicaragua’s Northern Autonomous Atlantic Region. Teaming up with the local government, UNICEF Nicaragua seized the opportunity to support the rights and needs of the youngest in the region while co-creating a new regional policy for children.

My job was to supervise the production of a short advocacy video about this new inclusive and engaging process, and here’s the result:

Read more about human-centered design in policy making here: Design Thinking for Children/UNICEF Innovation.

The video was produced by the New York-based creative agency Big Yellow Taxi, and there is also a version in Spanish.

The Birth of Sociopreneur

Here’s the first of many exciting newsletters about one of the most innovative initiatives I have been working on with UNICEF. A wonderful project that I am very proud and happy to be a part of – please subsrcibe to the mailinglist to see how things develop!

No 1  –  SEPTEMBER 2013

The birth of Sociopreneur

A corporate alliance between Mukul Beach, Golf & Spa and UNICEF Nicaragua

One year ago, UNICEF Nicaragua initiated a dialogue with the Pellas Group over an informal lunch at Casa de los Nogueira in Managua. Ariel Granera, Director of Communication from the Pellas Group, ended the meeting with a now famous phrase, “Concretemos,” to define next steps for a potential corporate alliance between both organizations. Months of work, dialogue and exchange of ideas went by until a partnership with Mukul was formed and the Sociopreneur Initiative, born.

On July 27, 2013, Mukul Beach, Golf & Spa and UNICEF officially joined forces to create a new model of responsible tourism for children, where local social entrepreneurs lead. We call them: sociopreneurs.

Sociopreneurs are generous, visionary and innovative local leaders who have chosen to invest with both their hearts and minds to solve local social problems affecting children and bring economic development to the area.

The Sociopreneur Initiative is not a top-down approach of corporate social responsibility, where the company decides where the money will go or which solutions are best. Instead, the initiative rests on principles of co-creation. It’s all about locally led innovative solutions in the form of social businesses that solve local problems and create value for children and the tourism sector.

We call it business with a purpose, and purpose changes everything!

Natalia Adler, Chief of Social Policy, UNICEF Nicaragua; Ariel Granera, Director of Communication, Pellas Group; and  Claudia Silva, Marketing and PR Director, Mukul Beach, Golf & Spa

The Launch

On a sunny Monday morning, on August 19, the Sociopreneur Initiative was officially presented to the world. During a press conference at UNICEF Nicaragua, Carlos Hernandez, CEO, Pellas Development Group, and Philippe Barrage-Bigot, UNICEF Representative, spoke to a group of journalists about the initiative.

“It’s a new paradigm of tourism practices,” remarked Carlos, “a paradigm where corporate social responsibility is done bottom-up, at the grassroots level.” Philippe added, “Mukul can be a catalyst for social entrepreneurship for the generation of economic and social benefits for Tola.”

The event concluded with the signing of the MoU between both organizations and lots of beautiful photos!

Philippe Barragne-Bigot, UNICEF Representative; and Carlos Hernandez, CEO Pellas Development Group

Developing the Brand

We partnered with the awesome Swedish duo, Camila Garay (Art Director) and Caroline Bach (Communication Specialist), to help us develop a unique brand for the initiative. Inspired by the research conducted in Tola, both gals managed to combine the essence of Mukul and what the project was about. Words like ‘contemporary,’ ‘humbly luxurious,’ ‘warm’ and ‘welcoming’ that aptly describe Mukul were paired with words like ‘social business,’ ‘rights,’ ‘drive,’ ‘generosity,’ ‘vision,’ which are integral to the initiative.

We ended up with a logo that encompasses this ‘dual thinking’ approach:
the heart and fire of sociopreneurs, symbolizing the social commitment and drive of the people we met in Tola.

Caroline Bach conducting interview with Jon Thomson from Mukul
Design process by Camila Garay

Mukul Guests

Part of the funds to finance this initiative will come from voluntary donations from guests staying at the hotel (US$ 4 a night). To target these guests in a way that complements the style of the hotel, a lot of thought was used to develop elegant and simple materials.

In close coordination with the always super attentive, Claudia Silva, Marketing and PR Director at Mukul Beach, Golf & Spa, a series of picture-frames was designed for each hotel room with information about the initiative. Clever writing and subtle design elements were used to blend marketing with the style of the rooms at Mukul. In addition to their generosity, we hope Mukul’s guests will also be part of this collaborative-oriented initiative as part of their experience in Nicaragua.

Mukul staff

UNICEF ran two workshops for 60+ staff from Mukul to keep them informed about the initiative (10 Sep 2013). The staff will be first point of contact with guests, and they need to be fully prepared to talk about the initiative with ownership and pride.

In Action

An ambitious workplan was created to keep tabs on the multiple aspects of the
Sociopreneur Initiative. In addition to a strong marketing component, an international Request for Bidding was launched to bring aboard a team of
experts in social entrepreneurship, tourism, and child rights (a difficult combo!).

This team, under the direct supervision of UNICEF, will be on the ground implementing the four phases of the Sociopreneur Initiative:

1.    Conducting the analysis of problems affecting children;

2.    Mapping of (business) opportunities in the value chain of
the tourism sector;

3.    Identification of potential Sociopreneurs; and

4.    Development of an ecosystem of social entrepreneurship
and international collaboration.

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Rotonda El Gueguense
400 Mts al Sur
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Managua, Nicaragua

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Copyright © 2013 UNICEF, All rights reserved.

my passport 2005 – 2013

A quick run through my old passport that has been joining me since I started travelling five years ago. I had to renew it as I only had two pages left for stamps and will be travelling soon again. Receiving the new, empty, modern passport felt like starting from scratch, like rebooting the system. What’s next? What now? Was that it? I don’t know.

After speaking to friends who’s biggest obstacle to travelling is the whole process of standing in line for, applying for, paying for, waiting for and hoping for a visa, I have become increasingly thankful for my EU passport that opens doors of trust in most places. Truth is, I’ve only had to apply for visa through an embassy for three of the 38 countries I visited since this passport was printed. Thank you, Sweden.