Being a Social Innovator: Solving your Day-to-day Problems in Simple Steps

I have developed an interest in social innovation because it gives people the chance to be creative while solving day-to-day problems. Everyone is responsible for social innovation and anyone can make a change whether global or local.

The good thing about social innovation is that you can do it on all scales. You can create change for your community e.g. a school, a church, or anything. Social Innovation aims to improve the lives of people. The key to being a good social innovator is by using the knowledge that you already possess to solve problems within your community. Anyone can be a social innovator if they can identify the problems that need innovative and creative solutions. Social innovation does not have to be a full-time job, it can be from a hobby or a passion outside of your career. To be a social innovator, you do not need to invent everything, rather use existing technology or other resources that you can find within your horizon to come up with a unique but effective way of approaching a problem.

As a Zimbabwean living in Indonesia, I cannot help but compare the two countries. I find it interesting to know that even if these countries are far apart the problems can be the same. This shows me that a solution that you offer on a community level can be used globally to better many human lives.

One of my favorite Zimbabwean social innovation projects is by an entrepreneur William Sachiti, who re-used existing technology to turn trees into Wi-Fi access points using microcomputers. In some remote districts of Zimbabwe, students do not have the privilege of accessing online learning materials because of the lack of computers, internet connection among other things. Instead, the students study under trees as they do not have enough classrooms to shelter them from the sun. William developed an idea from their current setting and figured that they could use those trees they shelter under to access online learning content. With this technology embedded in a micro-computer and preloaded educational content, the microcomputer is engraved into the tree or landmarks so that anyone with a smartphone or computer can access the content. This technology was made open-source, and anyone can use it to improve their community.

My favorite Indonesian social Innovation project is by Khilda Baiti Romah, a young entrepreneur who is the founder of Sampahkoe. In her community, she realized that garbage collectors work hard for little compensation and came up with an idea of how to improve their social welfare without necessarily changing their jobs. She started a company that makes various products from the trash. Not only is she helping the environment by recycling materials, but she has also promoted women in her community by providing a source of income through art and craft. She expanded her businesses to other countries through NGOs and has employed up to 5000 women. She is empowering women, fighting environmental damage, and chasing her passion for recycling.

To sum up, do not limit yourself, and no idea is bad. Explore, make mistakes, learn, and continue to innovate.

Beauty Tatenda Tasara (BI Computer Science, Student, Zimbabwe)

Beauty Tatenda Tasara (BI Computer Science, Student, Zimbabwe)