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Connecting with community heroes around the globe

Meet the heroes of the OpenIDEO community.

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I think many agree that open innovation is about connecting with people around the globe to bring amazing ideas to life and I am very glad to have met some of the very amazing individuals, online and offline, through the OpenIDEO platform.

It started last year when I got the opportunity to work directly with IDEO as the Amplify Community Manager for Pakistan and I was paired up with community managers from Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda to evangelise human-centered design approach for the refugee education challenge. 

That's when I first travelled to Africa (Kampala to be specific) and met Luisa, Jacqui & Trish, Rebecca, Mike and Richard as part of an exercise to learn about human-centered design. Among meeting many other people through various interactions and exercises, one story that stayed with me is that of Alex Mokori who setup an Innovation Center for the youth. I was fortunate enough to travel around Kampala to meet Alex and his team at the Innovation Center who are now busy changing the world in their all small and great ways.

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It was an enlightening experience for me that lit up a new corner in my heart, of hope and empathy, for the African people and created a longing to go back and meet more people and connecting with more communities, hopefully one day with my daughter :)

But then a few months down the road a surprising email showed up in my inbox. It said "Wanna work together again?" and it was a call to work on the Urban Resilience Challenge as a facilitator but I saw it as an opportunity to meet new people and connect with new communities and so I said yes.

Working on the Urban Resilience Challenge allowed me to connect with new individuals across Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh and Thailand. As the Challenge Manager, Chioma provided the necessary leadership to understand the challenge and its target beneficiaries while I was responsible for recruiting Yumna, Napas and Sabira and working with them to activate human-centered designers in their respective communities. 

I would like to thank all of them for their support, hard-work and enthusiasm. I wouldn't have known 4 amazing human beings if it weren't for OpenIDEO so thank you all. Also, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce them all in this post because it is because of them and their volunteer-ship that the world is a better place.

Meet Chioma, Yumna, Napas and Sabira.

Chioma Ume is the Amplify Challenge manager at IDEO, where she stewards the strategy and execution of the Amplify challenges and guides participants through the collaborative human-centered design process. Passionate about empowering people to improve their lives, prior to joining the IDEO family Chioma managed international development projects for the Canadian Bar Association. Her work focused on access to justice, legal aid, public legal education and rule of law. She’s lived and worked in Dar es Salaam, Singapore and Vientiane. In another life, she was both a corporate and criminal defence attorney in Toronto, Canada (at different times!). Chioma holds a law degree from the University of Western Ontario and an Honours Bachelors of Arts and Science from McMaster University.

Fun Facts about her (in her own words):

- I'm a yoga teacher (though I guess lots of people know that!)
- I used to tie up giant ships passing through a canal system
- my grandfather had almost 20 children and three wives, so my extended family is HUGE
- I once took a job in exchange for pickles. Yes, pickles.

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Samira Mehrin (Bangladesh)

Sabira Mehrin Saba is currently studying BBA at Institute of Business Administration, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. She shares a passion for social entrepreneurship and business strategy. She has represented Bangladesh on global platform as a delegate in International Business Conference by Business Today and Global Entrepreneurship Summit Kenya 2015 and also as a winner of various business competitions like GSEC, GIST and VINCI Innovation Award. Now Sabira is considered as an alumna of GIST Network, GEN and US Embassy, Dhaka for her achievements.

Fun facts: Sabira loves chasing tiny birdies and butterflies in gardens and makes faces to babies in public when no one is watching. She loves to travel and collects postcards from every country. Thanking you, Sabira Mehrin Saba Bangladesh.

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Yumna Javed (Pakistan)

Trained as an architect, Yumna is passionate about human centered design that solves urban problems. She's currently working with a Heritage and Design Consultancy in Karachi that deals with restoring historic buildings, managing conservation, assessment studies and conducting social research and documentation. She has a passion for international development and renewable energy. She's previously worked with Korea International Cooperation agency in their national capacity building projects in Pakistan. She has also worked with a non-profit organisation to design a primary school in Jhimpir, Sindh. (the region where Pakistan's first wind farm is located).

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Fun fact (in her own words): Currently based in Karachi. I haven't lived in the same city for more than 4 years. This one picture with a house is basically "Little architect". that's what my friends call me. So basically it's me and a tiny house so signifies Little architect. Also love public art, travel and social media.  

O.J. Napas Kitirattragan (Thailand)

Napas studied Architecture, worked as a strategic planner at McCann Erickson Worldwide advertising agency, worked in food business, now working in business development for a social startup in Bangkok,Thailand. Her side interest is around innovation and ageing society issue. She was involved in OpenIDEO 'urban slum resilience' challenge as Bangkok's challenge facilitator, setting a Meetup with university student in Global Study in Social Enterprise program. Thanks to this, she got connected to the professors and made new friends in the process of recruiting participants.

Fun facts (in her own words): Hence my study background, I never wanted to be an Architect/ I am highly tolerant to spicy food, extra hot Cheetos chips is my favourite and my guilty pleasure is binge watching all things about space & time travel.

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Saad Hamid


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