Adeena Schlussel

OpenIDEO’s Latest Challenge Aims For Practical Results in Colombia

OpenIDEO is like a design think-tank, open to the public. Based on the belief that having more heads in a room results in the most insightful solutions, OpenIDEO is an inclusive platform fostering creative thinking and designs for social good. As we’ve previously written about on NextBillion, the team is working to cull together the creativity and enthusiasm of entrepreneurs able to surmount the formidable voids, and is looking to bolster social businesses that will improve health in low income areas.

OpenIDEO’s most-recent challenge asks the design community an important question: How might we use social business to improve health in low-income communities? The challenge is posed by OpenIDEO, along with Holistic Social Business Movement (HSBM) of Caldas, which is a partnership between Grameen Creative Lab and the government of Caldas, Colombia that works to improve education, health and housing. It comes at a pressing time and the partners working to spread the question to bring a sense of hope to the otherwise bleak situation. The region of Caldas hosts a variety of health issues including a high infant mortality rate (at 12.5 percent), high instances of malnutrition and food insecurity, and poor reproductive health knowledge. The capital of Caldas has a poverty rate of 57.1 percent and the people of 26 percent of the general population lives in extreme poverty.

For these reasons, the need for a fortified health care system is crucial; there is immense opportunity to improve the people of Caldas’s health, and there is a matching potential for a social business to lead the way in this social project while profiting from their noble pursuit.

Luckily, OpenIDEO has as much promise in attaining creative solutions as HSBM has in executing them. Grameen Creative Lab is among the fathers of social business, including a rich history of ventures that have been able to achieve social good in a financially sustainable way. As Muhammad Yunus says,”In charity, a dollar only has one life. You use it and it’s done. As a social business, a dollar has an endless life, because it is recycled.’’ Examples of Grameen’s past social business successes include (but are not limited to) its venture with Danone Foods Ltd. and YY Haiti.

Hopefully, the team’s challenge will yield high impact solutions that will not only eradicate Caldas’s issues, but also solutions that are transferable to similar problems across the globe. Perhaps the submissions and comments will help OpenIDEO achieve its goal to be a place where “good ideas gain momentum.”