Going to school doesn’t always produce innovative, smart young leaders. Video games do.
The Urgent EVOKE project emerged from discussions between the World Bank and universities in Africa that revealed widespread demand from the universities to find avenues to encourage their students to think creatively and focus on local development challenges.
Here’s the twist.
They decided to take the learning out of the classroom. They did away with the textbooks. And the traditional teaching format.
They created EVOKE.
As the World Bank explains, EVOKE follows the exploits of a mysterious network of Africa’s best problem-solvers. Each week, players learn more about this network from a graphic novel. Players form innovation networks and brainstorm solutions to real-world development challenges that are released to them as weekly missions. They perform tasks to address these challenges and seek feedback for these ideas and actions.
Food security. Renewable energy. Clean water. Empowering women.
These are just a few of the challenges that the first round of 19,324 Evoke contenders from 150 countries worked on for 10 weeks. They wrote about 355 blog posts every day during the 10 week competition, and posted videos and photos inviting comments, discussion and feed back.
When the first season of the EVOKE game closed on May 19, 2010, the top players were invited to realize their EVOKATIONS by participating in the EVOKE Challenge on GlobalGiving to raise funds and build a community of donors and investors.
Some of the projects include developing a gaming software to help those without access to formal education learn how to manage money, creating an affordable “solar mill” to generate power in East Africa, treating autism in remote parts of the world through an online community, creating energy with rainwater runoff in Liberia, and turning a “squatter camp” into an “Eco-village.”
This type of Challenge is unprecedented at GlobalGiving, a marketplace that typically hosts projects already being implemented. With the EVOKE Challenge, we get to the core of our mission: pushing boundaries, fostering innovation and collaboration, and granting access to a marketplace for ideas in their inception—untested, unproven, unknown.
So, during the EVOKE Challenge, which runs from today until August 31, EVOKE players’ ideas will raise funds, individually and together, to make their ideas a reality.
Some will win and get implemented. Some will not. You, as part of the marketplace, will decide.
To be successful, entrepreneurs–like all social entrepreneurs–will have to build a community of support, communicate the value of their idea, and create dialogue so that diverse perspectives, including those of the people they’re working to help, are included.
Therefore, the first incentive invites collaborative action. Fifteen projects must raise $30 from 5 donors and receive 1 project comment. Once 15 projects have met these goals, each of them will be rewarded $100.
If 15 don’t manage to do it, no one gets anything.
But that won’t happen. The participants are already rallying around each other to figure out ways to collaborate and support each other.
Their ability to work together will release a cascade of collective and individual incentives. You can see them here.
With this EVOKE Challenge, a new generation of inspired, well-networked social entrepreneurs will emerge and take a shot at realizing their solutions to the challenges of their communities.
No generation has been under such compelling pressure to change the way we live and work as much as the current generation. The deep flaws in established economic and social structures have been revealed in unprecedented events and circumstances capturing the attention of people everywhere.
We have to try something new. We have to try to make new things work. And we have to do it together, as a community.
Because the world needs more than one superhero.
Manmeet Mehta is a Program Officer at GlobalGiving.