This past weekend, as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week, MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab Region in collaboration with AltCity, ArabNet, the MENA Design Research Center along with dozens of active partners in the Middle East, organized the first Beirut Social Innovation Camp. As a Design Coach, director of the MENA Design Research Center -Doreen Toutikian- was invited to spend one-on-one time with each team to guide them through the design process of their project.
The room was crawling with developers, designers, and entrepreuneurs who had come to team up with each other and turn their ideas to life. 14 teams were formed with project themes varying from community recycling plans, customer- product reviews, local talent archiving, braille apps, Garage sales, bio-lemonade, handcrafts, location-based job scouting, health planning, youth protection, housing for students, and gunshot detection.
On the third day, the judges who were representatives of ArabNet, Cedar Environmental, AUB, and Naharnet listened to the pitches and picked the winners. Instead of creativity, originality, research, or reasoning behind the project, they seemed to be entirely focused on business models and competitors. Personally, we would have preferred more diversity in the criteria, but nonetheless, it was a great effort from all parts; and surely the participants learnt some valuable lessons. The first prize went to Job Pinner, an app that determines the location of freelancers/ service providers from various fields.
Images Courtesy of Naharnet & Beirut.com