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  • Soccer Without Borders

Human-Centered Design: Expanding the Girls Empowerment Program at SWB Uganda

Olivier Matanda (Program Director) and Margarita Chukhina (Team Leader) of Soccer Without Borders Uganda attended a 5 day “bootcamp” from September 7-11, 2015, representing SWB as a finalist in the OpenIDEO Refugee Education Challenge. It brought together representatives from seven different organizations throughout the world. The challenge is through the Amplify Program with and DFID.

The Amplify bootcamp was an importand and fun experience. We (Olivier and Margarita) went in with an idea for strengthening the girls' program, but, like all participants of the challenge, were pushed to think outside of the box, and re-examine the process from the beginning.

The bootcamp week started with a tutorial on Human-Centered Design (HCD) and how it can apply to products and programs. The participants started with an applied HCD question. "How might we improve the safety of boda-bodas (a form of transportation) in Kampala?" All of the participants worked in groups to explore the question. The first step was interviewing the human users (boda-boda drivers and riders) to better understand the issue and surrounding challenges, then brainstorm potential responses - even the wildest of ideas were encouraged! From the brainstorming stage, each group designed a prototype solution, and again, went to test it out with the human users (more boda-boda driver and rider interviews). After that initial illustration, the participants were to apply the same ideas to their own program design. The Soccer Without Borders representatives shared ideas and plans with representatives of other NGOs and worked together on their program designs.

Overall, it was a great learning experience that expanded our thinking in how we approach this program plan, and directed us to think deeply about the population we are serving. That meant advocating for their needs and further explaining their unique challenges along the way. The experience was enhanced by opportunities to give and receive feedback from the representatives of other NGOs. We were inspired by this group of world-changers and the things they are innovatively and creatively doing to empower vulnerable populations. We emerged with a plan to prototype an expansion of our Girls Empowerment Program, incorporating vocational training elements and incentives for participation, and we can’t wait to get started!

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