Youth-Focused Projects Lead the Field at Social Innovation Camp Central Asia 2012

Part of InternewsNext, a series highlighting 30 youth-led media initiatives.

Young man holds up a easel paper while another man films through a iPad
Zhamshid Hakimov from Uzbekistan, who came up with the idea for the website offering resources and support for teenagers leaving orphanages to enter the workforce (credit: Internews)

The second annual Central Asia-wide Social Innovation Camp took place from May 31-June 2 in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Fifty young web designers, programmers, bloggers and activists were selected to take part of the event out of 138 applicants from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

Over the course of 36 hours, 420 cups of coffee, and 360 cups of tea, teams developed seven concepts for online applications with a social goal into functioning prototypes. In addition, Internews Kazakhstan staff offered master classes on inspiring social online start-ups and monetizing online civic initiatives.

Between work sessions, participants found a little time to use technology to create their own musical entertainment. Watch Kyrgyz participant Aibek Baratov turn an iPad into a virtual guitar!

Internews set up on an on-site MediaLaboratory to experiment with multimedia technologies to creatively document the camp through video, audio, photo, and online print materials. The fruits of their labor are available here.

A jury of experts from three Central Asian nations as well as Belarus and the Czech Republic evaluated each project based on its ability to do social good, effective use of technology, potential for mobilizing the public and sustainability over the long-term.

Out of seven projects, the top three included

  • a website where people with disabilities can use online tutorials to teach themselves basic programming skills, then find paid freelance job opportunities through employment postings on the same site.
  • an interactive platform for Uzbek teenagers who grew up in orphanages and need assistance finding work, securing housing registration documents, and navigating life in the “real world.”
  • an online platform that aims to increase communication between public schools in Tajikistan and parents, many of whom are living and working abroad as migrant laborers.

Internews Kazakhstan is providing paid hosting and a domain for the winning team, “Employment for the Disabled.” In addition to Internews, Soros Foundation-Kazakhstan and Transitions Online also provided support for the event.

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