This past April, the first cohort of Mahali Lab participants pitched their final solution after an intensive 10-week design sprint in Amman, Jordan. After exploring some of the biggest needs and challenges Syrian refugees and vulnerable Jordanians face today and putting the main themes to a community vote, the challenge area identified as most in need of new solutions by the affected community was the problem of insufficient income.
How can we ensure that vulnerable households have access to sufficient, predictable income that does not expose them to risks?
Participants split into teams, and began their 10-week journey in the field, researching and developing concepts. They visited Syrian and Jordanian populations, as well as NGOs and other projects working on related issues. Along the way, teams learned techniques from human-centered design and design research. Each team went through many prototype iterations, and gained feedback from their target communities as well as from the judging panel after their weekly pitches.
Final pitch day was the day to prove the feasibility of their solutions and to convince the panel that this was going to help solve part of the income problem in Jordan that Syrian refugees and local communities face.
The judging panel included people from the private and public sector, and community volunteers, who had been supporting teams in their field research and home visits, connecting them with refugee and local communities.
Each team had 5 minutes to present their idea, followed by a 15 minute Q&A from the panel. Judges deliberated on criteria like financial feasibility, market demand, team experience and commitment, and scalability.
The Final Solutions
The final four solutions centered around housing, vocation, access to transportation, and skill exchange.
The judges felt that each team needed more time to clarify their concepts, and they were given one more month to further develop their solutions. After a second round of pitches, the judging panel chose Magic Lamp (Fanous) and Our House (Betna) as the two strongest candidates to receive incubation services from Shamal Start.
As for the remaining teams, the Mahali Lab has given them an alternative package of support, such as connecting them with potential investors and other parties who may be interested in the same project.
This project is funded by UK aid from the British people; however the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the UK government’s official policies.