© unsplash/Angelo Moleele

21.04.2022

Innovative ideas on how to tackle the challenges facing society in the 21st century

Whether it’s about protection from violence on the internet or better access to vaccinations, there is no limit to the ideas that come out of GIZ’s Innovation Fund – and what is more, they contribute to the common good.

Insults, posting personal data and sexual harassment. Women and LGBTI+ people (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Inter) are particularly subject to this kind of experience on the internet.

A six-member team named ScrollSafe developed a clever tool and won an award under the Innovation Fund run by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. The core team included ARTICLE 19, an international human rights organisation that advocates for freedom of opinion and expression and freedom of information. The idea: in collaboration with an alliance of civil society organisations, ScrollSafe is developing software-based protection and reporting features that social media platforms can integrate to protect their users from gender-based violence. Janina Kempf, GIZ advisor and member of the ScrollSafe team, explains: ‘Our goal is to make social media platforms a safer place for women, girls, and non-binary individuals, so they can freely and safely express themselves and participate in the digital public sphere without fear of discrimination or violence.’

The team is currently building an alliance of public and private organisations to win social media companies over to their idea. A launch with Twitter is planned in Kenya, with other platforms such as Meta and TikTok to follow. No easy task: 'Our biggest challenge is communicating the mutual opportunities and potential for social media companies – not only for social good but also as a sustainable business model,’ says the team.

Vaccinations: just click and track 

Siri Snow knows from experience just how difficult this is. The 33-year-old project manager at GIZ is a member of the emmunize team, which won the GIZ Innovation Fund award in 2019:
‘We went through ups and downs. We quickly learned to push on and to not give up too easily. I also think, that being creative and thinking outside of the box was an important factor for where we are with the project today.’

Today emmunize is one of the most successful projects to come out of this competition for ideas. It helps make vaccinations accessible for more people in remote regions. This is possible thanks to the combination of a mobile app and reliable, environmentally sound coolants.

Greater effectiveness through innovation

A lot has happened since winning the award: the idea has been further developed in collaboration with three health facilities and has been trialled in nine remote communities in Malawi. GIZ coordinated and implemented the pilot project, which was financially supported by the Merck Family Foundation, among others. A mobile app is linked to the new electronic patient register in the Bilira region of Malawi. In addition to this, a shelter was built, where children under the age of five can be vaccinated. It is also equipped with a solar-powered refrigerator.

‘The innovation competition made it possible to work with family members and health workers from the word go and develop a solution that really does work. That enabled us to play a role in creating a healthy future for thousands of children,’ adds emmunize team member Sofia Nürnberger, who works at GIZ as a sustainable procurement specialist.

GIZ has been running this company-wide Innovation Fund since 2017 with the aim of generating valuable ideas that will contribute to the common good. Participants have seven months to venture something new and develop services and products to tackle global challenges. This year, the competition called for ideas that would contribute to a green and sustainable recovery post COVID-19 (Build back better). More than 500 submissions from over 70 countries have been received in recent years. Of the eighteen ideas funded by the winning teams, thirteen have already been implemented.