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ReFresh 02: Financial Empowerment Challenge Highlights – Addressing Contexts

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With research contributions from over 100 different countries and territories around the world, we've been thrilled by the range of perspectives that our community has shared in the Financial Empowerment Challenge so far. Let's take a moment to examine what we've learned from the diversity of contexts on the challenge boards!



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Image Contribution: Kyaw Tun Sein, Let's Step into Pravesh's Shoes

Recently, we were inspired by a quote from OpenIDEO member Joe Silva on the importance of addressing contexts: "Those who have been successful navigating the barriers and nuances of their specific community’s economic landscape know what is best for their community." As part of a global innovation community, we're keen on cultivating solutions that are relevant to the unique needs of people around the world. Before the Idea Phase begins, let's reflect on some inspirations that have emerged in response to the particular traditions, places, and needs of people.


Community Refresh

Inherent Potentials – Contexts can spark solutions that harness the inherent potential of our communities. Anne-Laure Fayard's post, Communities Reinvent Bartering, featured an inspiring story of how Greek communities have responded to the economic crisis by building on an age-long tradition. The contextual solution is a homegrown currency system that's inspired by old Greek bartering practices. In face of the national recession, the new social currency is helping families afford goods at local marketplaces.


Social Contexts – From the Research Phase, we've also learned that the topic of financial empowerment is often tied to other social challenges. In Smart Savings for Saving their Families, Ambily shared with us the story of how women in Kamonyi, Rwanda had formed a group fund association to save their marriages from infidelity. In response to concerns of husbands leaving their wives for women with "real mattresses", the Kamonyi women created a monthly money pool to help each other replace their straw mat beds.


What's Missing? – We've examined a wide range of perspectives in the Financial Empowerment Challenge so far, but what have we overlooked? Recently, our Community Champion Andre Fernandes brought our attention to the importance of considering people with special needs. Within each community there are members with special circumstances – such as the elderly and those with physical disabilities. How might we be more inclusive and start to address the contexts of those with special needs?


Community Voices

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Andre Fernandes is an social innovator based out of Tubarao, Brazil. He is one of our four Community Champions for the Financial Empowerment Challenge. Andre's been inspiring our community with a wide range of research inspirations and thoughtful feedback on the platform. Let's take a look at the insights that Andre has gained from the Research Phase, and what those insights might spark in the Idea Phase of this challenge.


What insights have you gained from the research inspirations so far?

There are 18 particular conversations that have been the most insightful and provoking for me. The topics they bring are examples of how to make banking data more attractive, emphasis on community development for women empowerment, and alternative exchange systems where the traditional market approach isn't working. Some examples of these trends are in the following conversations: Making Banking Data Beautiful, Alternative Currency to Fight Poverty, and The Power of Community– Women together for a Change.

How might you start applying these insights to the contexts of your community?

The main insights that I've gained have to do with the demand for making financial data more attractive and accessible. I've also learned that alternative exchange systems have the potential to boost social connections and encourage entrepreneurship through self-learning. In the context of my community, I feel that many people are disconnected from a sense of purpose – there should be a need to ask "why" for everything they do, think, and consume. A mindful management of our finances and other resources are directly related to how mindful we are towards our attitudes.


Let's Look Ahead

In going forward into the Idea Phase of this challenge, let's start to consider who we're designing for and how our ideas may fit into the contexts of their communities. As we've learned, impactful ideas can emerge by taking a close look at the contexts of a problem. To get our ideation juices flowing, let's also tap into the wealth of toolkits that we've gathered in the Resources page. Looking forward to collaborating with you on the challenge boards!

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Financial Empowerment Challenge , ReFresh

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