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World Education Foundation - WE: SOLVE Innovation Center in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (Refugee and IDP Camps) [Camp Prototype 7.02.15]

WE are creating an open space for local youth to solve local problems providing tools to create new solutions and livelihoods.

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WE: SOLVE Lab is an open space, technology and design incubator focused on local youth creating local solutions. The ‘why’ is to maximize human and societal improvements in marginalized regions across the world. Local innovators harness the global community to build multiple tech solutions, which solve tangible problems. WE: SOLVE provides local entrepreneurs an environment and resources to explore, create and flourish, concentrating on building technical expertise and soft skills to approach their respective solutions. Through a 13- week incubation program and year long support, proven concepts enter the local and global market to create livelihood opportunities, along with data points to approach problems in multiple regions. To maintain sustainability, value added is reinserted into the program, ensuring a seamless sharing of best practices throughout each WE: SOLVE global node. The Education component is integrated in the process. The project aims to help the local community in Dohuk develop and implement possible technological solutions to address challenges such as: food security; sanitation; health; energy needs, and education.


Syrian Refugees in Duhok, Iraq - Iraqi Youth IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) - Iraqi and Kurdish Host Community - Global Community.


The World Education Foundation WE: SOLVE Labs Prototype in the Domiz Refugee camp: 6.29.2015 The WE Team ran a prototype workshop in the Domiz refugee camp in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to identify the feasibility, capacity, want and need of a 13 week WE: SOLVE Lab incubator focused on local community members solving local problems. We aimed to promote learning and social cohesion between refugee and host community youth through a participatory approach to creating new ideas, increasing education and solving problems. Demographics of the Workshop:15 participants, ages 15 to 20 years old (5 males and 10 females); 4 local mentors, (3 males and 1 female) 1. 6 hour workshop, divided into 5 parts. Starting off with an icebreaker exercise, groups are divided into 4 groups, focusing on 1 of 4 verticals: Energy, Education, Health/Sanitation and Food/Agriculture. 2. Each group goes into their community and performs a needs assessment focused on each vertical. 3. Each group brainstorms best solutions surfacing from the data collected. Then creates a prototype for one or several ideas. Participants role play with another group and receive feedback on their idea. 4. Participants then pitch their idea to the wider group. Generate feedback, gain insight and iterate for 13 week program.


The Good: Impressed by the flow and cohesiveness of the day. Impressed by level of engagement by local mentors and participants. Everyone was eager to learn and picked up on the content quite quickly. The participants felt challenged and interested. The participants explicitly stated that completing their own needs assessments provided them the opportunity to learn and collect their own data to evaluate possible solutions, which were relevant to their situation. By providing them with a space for the prototype session and pitch, the participants were able to start thinking creatively and analytically about local solutions to local problems.Participants wanted more. Needs to Improve: Provide more time to prepare for pitch. Provide follow up activities to continue learning and solving their ideas. Provide a course on public speaking. WE were aiming for 20 participants for 5 groups of 4, but iterated the process to having 3 groups of 4 and 1 group of 3. We were unable to include one of the themes, which was Safety. The Unexpected: Due to Ramadan and personal reasons, 5 of the participants were unable to make it to the workshop. We learned that performed needs assessments by local community members helps refugees connect with their communities. Involvement of the various parties (Refugee, Internally Displaced People, Host Community) in the human-centered process can lead to social cohesion. Next: Iterate from feedback and hold 2nd workshop in Erbil on 7.7.2015


WE are changing the narrative of what it is to be a refugee...instead of 'waiters', WE are building 'creators' of the future. Through the WE:SOLVE labs, WE will provide open spaces within a refugee setting to highlight and support local talent, implementing practical solutions for their local and host community. Through WE:SOLVE, displaced youth will explore, create and develop their own solutions, while gaining transferrable skills, developing new markets, employment and ventures. WE:SOLVE is smudging borders, building peace and social cohesion through education, ultimately empowering locals to generate livelihoods, engage with a global community and create the future cities of the world.


The funding will go directly to investing in Local Staff, Equipment, Physical Space, and Project Expenditures. The total investment will be $87,400 usd (may be lower depending on tech sponsorships). The detailed break down is located in attachment WE-SOLVE LABS (Backend).pdf. The most immediate and beneficial Design Support would be to work with IDEO on Systems Design to create an efficient and seamless supply chain, which scales from participant ideas, identifying market gaps and accelerating solutions through WE:VENTURE accelerator. Viable solutions, products and services are delivered to the local and global markets while creating jobs for refugees, IDP's and host community.


The WE: Solve Lab addresses the need for immediate actions and solutions. This 13-week program will serve as an opportunity for the development of new innovative ways to provide local approaches to local problems. WE: Solve Lab's participants will be made up of a 50-50-gender balance. Participants will consist of 33% Syrian Youth refugees, 33% Iraqi Youth IDPs and 33% Host Community Youth. WE: Solve Lab's success is linked to the social cohesion the program can create in the region. By focusing on three different target groups with a gender balance and partnering with local organizations, mentors and ministries, the project strives to be culturally sensitive, while empowering local talent.

SKILL SHARE (optional)

Partnerships, Mentorships, Collaborations with Universities and Institutions looking to solve pressing global problems.


The WE Foundation stands on the belief that a more educated world yields a more productive world. WE operate to bridge the gap between academic knowledge and implementation to provide global platforms to solve problems, implement solutions and share best practices across borders.


  • Yes, I have implementation capacity and am interested in and able to make this idea real in my community.
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Team (14)

Sarry's profile
Sarry Zheng

Role added on team:

"Thank you for the brainpower and focus on the WE: SOLVE Innovation Center at the SF- Meet Up! Happy WE are connected-"

Yaris's profile
Yaris Ng Pang

Role added on team:

"Appreciate the detailed User Map for dental health care. A great program and definite health and education opportunity for the community. Thank you"

Paul's profile
Paul Spurzem

Role added on team:

"Thank you kindly for the description posted on the comments. Seems there was a lot of creative juices flowing and some implementable solutions to engage the community, while secure integrity of the selection process. I look forward to hearing more of the feedback."

Rae Duan's profile
Rae Duan

Role added on team:

"Thank you for participating with 'Team Smile' WE truly appreciate the outcomes."

Sangeetha Alagappan's profile
Sangeetha Alagappan

Role added on team:

"Happy to have you on board and thank you for the great work at the meet up!"

Marques D.'s profile
Silvie's profile
Silvie Hibdon

Role added on team:

"The catalyst!"

Raul's profile
Raul Aldape

Role added on team:

"From 'Team Badgers' braintrust- WE appreciate having you on board!"

Skye's profile
Skye Schuchman

Role added on team:

"Thank you for all of the great work with 'Team Badgers' at the OpenIDEO SF meet up- Your ideas and prototyping are quite helpful and insightful. Looking forward to continuing the process with you all."

Karin's profile
Karin Attia

Role added on team:

"Part of the 'WE Team' members who is currently in Iraq. Has been doing wonderful work on the WE: SOVLE project since January- Excited to be on the ground with you and look forward to a productive 3 weeks."

Yannis's profile
Yannis Bacalis

Role added on team:

"'WE Team' member, full of excitement, ideas and curiosity. Glad to be working with Yannis on the WE: SOLVE labs in Iraq. 3 weeks of fun and progress."

Janell's profile
Janell Johnson

Role added on team:

"'WE Team' member currently in Iraq, ready to explore and expand the WE: SOLVE project. Ready to continue this fantastic voyage with you here on the ground."

Em's profile
Em Havens

Role added on team:

"WE would love to have you on board and engage with the WE: SOLVE project!"

Chioma's profile
Chioma Ume

Role added on team:

"Hopefully WE can engage on the platform to brainstorm and gather your valuable feedback."


Join the conversation:

Photo of AMPLIFY Team

Hi Marques,

As you know we've had a few experts review your idea. Here is one question an expert had for you. If you could take some time to answer the question that would be great!

"As you move forward, try and be more explicit about the detail - what is the educational content? What will you teach, and how will they learn? What does the year of support look like? How will this be sustained, either for those students who pass through or for the next cadres? What does the design relationship with the community look like when solving problems? All great questions to be looking at!"


The Amplify Team

Photo of Marques D. Anderson

Hello Amplify Team, thank you for the questions - due to length of the response I have uploaded the answers in the doc filed 'Answer to Open IDEO Amplify Team 6.19.2015-Details'

Thanks for the inputs-

Marques and the WE Team

Photo of AMPLIFY Team

Great, thanks so much! We have a few follow up questions about some of the practical components of this idea. Have you given some thought to how you will recruit community members or mentors that will be willing to give so much of their time? What will the mentors get in exchange for this? Creating an accelerator is quite exciting - how are you well placed to determine which ideas have market potential? What metrics will you measure this against?

A program like this seems as though it will always need to have some full time management. How do you envision a train the trainers model supporting this? What other thoughts do you have about how you could promote sustainability?

Photo of Marques D. Anderson

Hello Amplify Team

Thank you so much for your reply and additional question- Due to length of response can you please find the answers to the proposed questions in document- 'Answer to Open IDEO Amplify Team 6.26.2015-Details'

WE truly appreciate your responses


Marques and the WE Team!

Photo of AMPLIFY Team

Noted - thank you!

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