The first Innovation Laboratory was held this August in Almaty, Kazakhstan, with the participation of 45 civil society representatives from all five Central Asian states, Afghanistan, and Mongolia. The Civil Society Development Association (ARGO) and the Central Asian Innovation Initiative’s (CSiI) Regional Working Group organize the this new, innovative conference format as the startup in creating the Central Asian Innovation Initiative – the regional component of a global initiative for civil society support and development.
9 speakers shared their own unique experience.
|Zulfiya Abdukhalikova, Kazakhstan.
Research and Project Coordinator for Urban Forum Almaty, and an organizer of the “Plant a Tree” movement. YARKOcross charity marathon that she organized brought together over 10,000 people already in the first year. Zulfiya is convinced that social marketing and SMM are perfect instruments for attracting volunteers.
|Marina Mikhailova, Russia.
Director of the Arkhangelsk Center for Social Technologies – Garant. Marina has invaluable experience and knowledge in organizing charity campaigns and involving citizens in social projects.
|Rinat Tukhvatshin, Kyrgyzstan.
He is a Kloop Media founder. Rinat discussed innovation instruments in modern journalism, such as drone-journalism, multistream direct video broadcasting, and big data and website scraping technologies. He introduced the audience to mobile applications for NGOs’ strengthening and public mobilization.
|Larisa Pak, Kazakhstan.
She is a Supervisor for TEDxAlmaty, TEDxAstana, and the regional Ambassador of TEDx. Larisa is credited for widely spreading the newly popular lab conference format throughout Kazakhstan. She believes that such media platform can serve to disseminate diverse ides in all spheres, including the civil sector.
|Philip Nubel, Czechia.
Innovations Development Consultant, the Prague Civic Center. He is a specialist in gamification. Philip has fantastic experience, and most importantly – a fantastic result of applying game mechanisms in non-game processes.
|Maiwand Rahyab, Afghanistan.
Executive Director of the Afghanistan Institute for Civil Society. Maiwand Rahyab shared his experience in organizing and holding the Annual Partnering for Public Good Summit. He believes that this experience will be useful for NGOs in Central Asia and Mongolia.
|Manizha Mukhammadzoda (Khaitova), Tajikistan.
Specialist in software development in the area of medicine, education and other public services, Chairperson of the Innovation Technology Entrepreneurship Association. Manizha shared her experience in generating and applying innovation instruments for HIV prevention and slowing the spread of HIV in Tajikistan.
|Gulim Amirkhanova, Kazakhstan.
Regional Editor, Internews. Gulim is an outstanding specialist and experimenter in the area of multimedia content. Gulim spoke about her experience in creating multimedia editorials.
|Lidiya Khvan, Kyrgyzstan.
Coordinated the Bir Duino-Kyrgyzstan 2016 Festival supporting the human rights movement. Lidiya is convinced that the Festival of Documentary Films on Human Rights is capable of becoming a platform for protection of human rights and freedoms, and to bring together civic activists.
Participants’ Remarks about the Innovation Lab
Shamsidin Karimov, Tajikistan
I am very interested in Marina Mikhailova’s experiences. I believe this approach is the most useful for us because it does not require substantial fund raising. Then again – will what is possible in Arkhangelsk be possible in Dushanbe? I will tell my young, enthusiastic friends about these projects, and I will say that such projects can be implemented very successfully.
Zulfiya Abdukhalikova from Almaty , is doing something remarkable! I am interested in her ideas. When I return to Tajikistan, the Board of Directors will discuss how we can apply all this in our case. If it’s feasable, why should we reinvent the wheel? We will invite Zulfiya to share her project with those who are interested. And the “Plant the Tree” is also an awesome project.
What is good about the Innovation Lab? Theoretically, we have found a correct solution to our problems. An innovative approach! Exactly an innovative approach! Everything is clear in theory! But how does it all take place in practice? How realistic is it? NGOs in Kazakhstan, in Kyrgyzstan are so great. And what about Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan!? We should find new solutions by adapting the ideas we heard here to our environments.
Every time meetings such as this give a big shift, movement forward. We are on the right way. But it is also a process that takes some time.
Rakhima Duisenova, Kazakhstan
I liked Philip’s presentation so much. For me it’s a discovery – how a definite solution to a problem be found by means of a game. I liked many things here.
I was interested in Arkhangelsk’s experience. Topics are clear and resources are available
I liked Gulim and Rinat’s story about new media. By uniting many people, they create specific social networks to solve common problems.
As a health professional, I am interested in the experience shared by Manizha. They apply new information exchange methodologies, create online consultations, skype conferences, and webinars.
Lidiya Kvan’s presentation is very applicable too. We also have many projects supporting human rights. And this is one more way to solve legal issues.
The conference format itself is new and interesting. It allowed everyone to get acquainted very quickly and to communicate with each other. It’s very informal, democratic and free. At first, everyone gave some general information about their own project, and then we had an opportunity to find out issues of our interests. As a result we had a more detailed discussion.
Artur Sarkizov, Kyrgyzstan
The format itself is new for NGOs, and I believe that it is necessary for Central Asia. I am intereted in what Kloop from Kyrgyzstan does while working with ‘open data’. ‘Open data’ is an opportunity to use government data to promote civic activism, i.e. to conduct interesting research and investigations, and make brief reports. All these materials can serve a basis for advocacy campaigns, and make an impact on the decision-making processes by government authorities.
Our Civic Participation Fund is currently implementing the Prague Center project, working with NGO accountability and transparency through a prism of SMM technologies. We demonstrate how social media marketing is an effective instrument for NGO transparency and accountability to their beneficiaries. The NGO sector is often accused of corruption and closeness. In reality, we all know that NGOs carry out a colossal amount of work that they cannot always demonstrate to their beneficiaries due to scarce resources and insufficient human resources. It is known that social networks are becoming increasingly popular, and I am strongly convinced that we are switching to the online environment, and it is more likely that we should re-arrange ourselves to work in the online environment. Maybe, during the next Laboratory we will show how to transition to such forms of work, applying media technologies that are transparent and accountable.
Ainura Zaurbekova, Kazakhstan
My impressions appeared long before the event. I became interested, just from a large announcement for the Innovation Lab. I was feeling that I had been knocking my head against a ceiling with my work in my organization, meaning that there is a lack of new forms of work. I was already looking for information about other methods of work, about breakthrough ideas. That’s why the event announcement came in time and made me so happy. Each of the speakers’ presentation was very interesting.
Jessica and general overview about innovations. She said that innovations are any new form of work. For me it was a great surprise. I believed that innovations are something quite new. I didn’t think that those forms of work that we offered earlier both in the community and in the state can be called innovations. I always considered them alternative ways for solving social problems. Jessica’s message impressed and empowered me.
TDX is a very interesting conference format with diverse speakers and the opportunity to share. It’s an excellent alternative to all dialogue platforms that we have in the civil sector. We do not deal with ideas and ideas implementation, instead we conduct round tables, conferences, forums, working meetings and many other things that do not solve the problem, but circulate it.
What I think about is how I will share this in Taraz. I am scared. We offer quite ordinary things there. Now, for example, we are dealing with implementing the “Barrier-free Taraz” project, and its essence is that equal opportunities should become the norm. Even here we encounter resistance and different objective obstacles. And those projects that were discussed during today’s Lab are aimed at changing in the first place, ways of thinking, perception, ability to generate own ideas, and find associates. Ok, Almaty is a big city, and probably in Astana it is possible too. But in Taraz!? It is with great pleasure that I was listening to “Dobriy Arkhangelsk”. I was impressed by their work. It was interesting to learn how they are doing it. I asked about the population size – 250,000 people. And in Taraz we have about 400,000. And in their region they have a bit less than a million, and we have a bit more than a million. What is their regional budget – they are a subsidized region. We have a kind of similar situation. Of course, I understand that everything depends on people, on a person – on a person’s idea and desire to put something into life, anything can be done, and everything will be a success. However, along with that I don’t understand how this all can be done on-site. But I think that the time has come! It must be done! Because now most of our NGOs are linked with social contracting. It is an ideological work. It does not change the situation in society. It does not produce any effect. And it seems to me, that with the help of such new forms of work this layer can be moved. It is interesting for myself. I am in need of more knowledge! Technical support is needed too. And time! And strength! I would like to find such like-minded fellows in Taraz to be able to disseminate ideas. The thing is that we have no problems with municipal authorities, nor have we problems with regional authorities, and businesses are rather friendly to us. The problem is with the NGOs that are still stuck to old forms of work. My options are either to lose time and strength struggling, or to do something new. I choose something new!