In 2019, the IFRC launched the innovation challenge #100ideasRCRC. For this reason, Tatiana Campoverde and Henry Cáceres, volunteers from the Ecuadorian Red Cross, created SIFI, a Comprehensive Training and Innovation System. Using tools and processes used in the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem, SIFI offers young people the opportunity to materialize their ideas in an environment that favors their creativity, participation and development, also introducing our National Society into the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem of our region.
This work model was totally new and unknown in our National Society, because it raises new relationship dynamics with volunteers, partners and funders, placing volunteers and community members at the center of the process. In this way, new mechanisms, tools and spaces are proposed for volunteers to enhance their creative and innovative capacity in a non-hierarchical way, in suitable environments with the support of people who exercise new forms of volunteering.
With the implementation of this system, it is expected to achieve these goals in the medium and long term:
- Generation of more suitable environments for young people to develop their ideas and guarantee their meaningful participation.
- A more attractive National Society for young volunteers and thus increasing their time spent in volunteering.
- It enables the development of scalable, low-cost, high-impact projects that respond innovatively and effectively to humanitarian challenges.
- It promotes cohesive work with public and private entities, academia, National Societies, and NGOs.
SIFI is a sum of several tools that dynamizes how humanitarian work is carried out within the Ecuadorian Red Cross, this form of work guarantees a full articulation of all the elements of the system and at the same time sufficient autonomy to obtain results with each one of them.
BOOTCRE: a space for humanitarian innovation bootcamps or hackathons for the acceleration of innovative, viable, low-cost, high-impact projects, easily replicable and scalable through a mentoring process.
JUVENTIA: academy for training mentors in innovation and social entrepreneurship. In this space, the volunteers will develop the skills and abilities necessary to guide other young people in the development of their projects.
MERAKI: a coworking space to continue developing the proposals, in an environment where cooperation, creativity, and innovation are stimulated, it will also be a space for community meetings and training.
HIT: Speak – Inspire – Transform, a platform for the dissemination of projects and other experiences by volunteers from the institution or other people who want to share their impact on society.
ATLAS: a virtual Think Tank platform, which will also constitute a space for discussion of social problems where volunteers or members of the innovation ecosystem can participate to exchange and promote ideas or projects.
CATARSIS: a dynamic and participatory platform for the dissemination of successful innovative community experiences and topics of interest from any area of knowledge approached from an innovative approach that promotes connection and virtual learning.
Catarsis is composed of:
- Catarsis Webinar: dissemination of knowledge
- Catarsis Live: dissemination of successful innovative community experiences
- Catarsis Podcast: approaching innovation in a creative way
SIFI was designed to be implemented in person, however, the quarantine by Covid-19 forced us to rethink how the project would be executed. In this way, several of the tools were adapted to a virtual environment, allowing to promote innovation processes in the Ecuadorian Red Cross nationwide, and thus opening the opportunity to generate new forms of volunteering.
In this sense, the new tools and forms of volunteering that have generated as a result of this innovation system are presented below.
● Ways to support volunteers as innovators: SIFI, as explained above, is a sum of tools and methodologies that allows volunteers and community members to access training processes, environments and mentoring that, apart from helping them materialize their initiatives, also enhance their skills and knowledge in innovation processes. This has generated the results that, until this moment, in 9 months of work 150 volunteers have been involved in the process, generating 30 initiatives led entirely by volunteer members, including that two of these initiatives have been finalists of the innovation challenge Climate Red and one has been selected as one of the winners.
● New technologies or tools to support volunteers allow more people to volunteer: The implementation of SIFI generated a growing participation of volunteers from all over the country, the interest of volunteers from other countries and the inclusion of mentors and experts with positions of high hierarchy with short time availability, this highlighted the need to have a digital tool that provides people, regardless of where they are or the time they have, the possibility of generating or supporting in the design of projects of social innovation, for this reason MERAKI APP arises, a mobile application where members of the movement or external people can interact virtually to exchange ideas and build initiatives with the support of mentors and experts.
In addition, it opens the possibility that people from different hierarchical positions in companies, NGOs, academia or public institutions who have little time can become involved voluntarily as mentors and experts who will guide the design of the innovation initiatives of the Agents of Change.
An additional element that the application has is the possibility that people can register as funders, and access the different initiatives so that, in the event that any of them interest them, they can contact the change agents who lead the initiative to finance it. The App will be available soon.
● New more sustainable association models for volunteers: before the pandemic, the National Society volunteers were grouped exclusively with members of their locality, based on the implementation of SIFI and its adaptation to the virtual modality, the spaces generated have allowed that volunteers begin to gather from different locations in the country and even internationally to develop initiatives with a social innovation approach. This new association model has allowed the initiatives developed to be designed to solve a particular problem but with an approach that allows their implementation in different localities.
This process has also made it possible to make approaches with national and international entities of the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem to generate joint actions for the benefit of communities, but at the same time improve the experience of volunteers in Ecuadorian Red Cross innovation environments.
● New types of volunteering: As part of this innovation process and in the context of the new normality, virtuality has taken on a lot of prominence in the way in which volunteer activities are developed, this is how the virtual volunteering model arises, and professional volunteering too. In this sense, SIFI has contributed to these volunteer models through:
- CATARSIS, a platform where volunteers from all over the country have taken responsibility for the management and execution of webinars and live broadcasts.
- HIT – HABLA, INSPIRA, TRANSFORMA, a platform where volunteers from the movement have shared their life stories and motivated more people to join in volunteering.
- BOOTCRE, hackathons where volunteers from all over the country have connected virtually to develop projects that respond effectively to the needs of communities.
With all these spaces, it has also been possible to create a community of professional experts in different areas who collaborate with the Ecuadorian Red Cross on a voluntary basis, generating a model of proin initiatives of innovation.
This system has not only generated new ways of addressing humanitarian challenges, but it has also opened the possibility of having volunteers who, in other conditions, could not volunteer. In addition, It has given us the possibility of generating new tools and environments that improve the volunteer experience of the members of the Ecuadorian Red Cross.
Click here to play the beta version of ODYSSEY 2030, a video game designed in SIFI to help us take care of the environment.