Willy Brandt himself represented social change, reflected in his social and political reforms. He believed that policies served no purpose if the policymakers did not have a specific goal in mind when creating it. Thus, in the multicultural and diverse settings of the Brandt School, the Commitment Award seeks to allow students and alumni to apply what they’ve learned at the Brandt School and to initiate new social initiatives in Erfurt (where the Brandt School is based, and around the world. In close cooperation, the Engagementpreis Foundation and the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy have been organizing the Commitment Award since 2012. The Engagementpreis-Stiftung gUG, annually funds the top three project proposals, awarding the winners the financial means to execute their innovative ideas. They award the first prize winner with 2,500 euros, the second place prize is 1,500 euros, and the third prize winner receives 1,000 euros.
This year, 15 projects are competing for the top three prizes. We will introduce these projects over the next two posts. After the award ceremony on July 9th, we will have a special episode of The Bulletin Podcast with the three winners of the Commitment Award 2020.
Let us introduce the second group of applications:
Project 9: “Mera Hunar Mera Rozgar, My Skill is My Business” (Pakistan)
by Athar Farooq
The world will be going towards a new normal after COVID-19, presenting many SMEs opportunities they did not have before. Athar Farooq created “Mera Hunar Mera Rozgar, My Skill is My Business” to harness those opportunities, provide work from home, and to establish retail outlets for skilled and needy individuals or families. The association shall provide digital and social media help to establish and expand the income stream and increase the customer inflow and branding of the business. The project’s primary goal is to empower the socially and economically marginalized segment of the society and create a business cycle to expand the beneficiary numbers.
Project 10: “Small diving initiative in hands of indigenous family in southern Chile” (Chile)
by Esteban Rayo
Esteban Rayo from the Brandt School created a project aimed to empower and leverage a small-scale diving tourism initiative. The activity is inserted into an indigenous community (Huilliche people) in a remote coastal area in the south of Chile, known as Condor Cove. The community faces many challenges from new environmental legislation. These new rules protect the forest and marine areas, but at the same time limit the traditional livelihoods of this community. The project aims to help this community diversify its economic resources and give the protected areas and the Huilliche community a sustainable future through diving gear investment and training.
Project 11: “Cocina Tradicional Rocafuerte – Traditional Cooking to combat extreme poverty and gender vulnerability” (Ecuador)
by Berenice Munoz
Brandt School alumna Berenice Munoz created “Cocina Tradicional Rocafuerte” as a way to combat extreme poverty and gender vulnerability. It is a project looking to build a Traditional Cooking Restaurant in the California-Rocafuerte community that women own in situations of socio-economic vulnerability. The restaurant aims to offer the community’s women living under the poverty line, in vulnerability and unemployment, an opportunity to start their own formal economic activity. They will be able to make use of their abilities to strengthen empowerment, but also reduce levels of vulnerability and extreme poverty through generating a regular income. Moreover, the project looks to promote a circular economy model where the products used in their restaurant will come from their own gardens and parcels, motivating the use of local products and resources.
Project 12: “The Village School Book-Mobile Library” (Nigeria)
by Chukwudi Johnpaul Okolo
Village Schools Book-Mobile Library (VSBML) aims to stimulate the minds and improve the literacy of poor and disadvantaged children in identified villages. It adds to state actors’ efforts to provide books driven around by a mobile bicycle or van while the facilitators guide children on a general reading session and later a Q & A to assess attention. Other children who are better capable can borrow from the books for their weekly reading and return them later. Each school shall form Readers’ Clubs to ensure continuity because each will be visited weekly. Community ownership and volunteerism shall promote this and is the major strength of this project. Studies have proven this as successful in the US and Germany as well as other European Countries and we are glad to deploy it. The project learns from the German model in Munich.
Project 13: “Food serving with Banana Leaf Technology” (Germany)
by Abhishek Raj
Abhishek Raj, a current student of the Brandt School, has come up with a way to use Banana Leaf Technology, as an alternative to plastic, in our everyday lives. The inventor of the technology is a 21-year-old scientist from the state of Tamil Nadu, India. Banana Leaf Technology preserves the leaves for up to 3 years, to create durable products that can serve as an alternative to plastic without the use of any chemicals. There are 7-10 biotechnological processes involved in enhancing a banana leaf. The cells are preserved such that the natural components of the leaves remain intact. Preserved leaves can resist extreme temperatures and hold more weight. The manufacturing cost of these plates and cups is very low, and they can ultimately be used as manure or fodder. The processed leaves are 100% biodegradable, healthy, human-friendly, and completely eco-friendly, and they are a viable replacement for disposables.
Project 14: “Be on the bRight side!” (Kyrgyzstan)
by Nazira Turarova
Brandt School student, Nazira Turarova, created “Be on the bRight side!” to help with the problem of road safety in the ever-growing capital city of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Road traffic injuries here have doubled; 11,553 people died in Kyrgyzstan over 10 years, 958 were children. The project is aimed to raise awareness of road safety for school-aged children through the distribution of light reflectors. Light reflectors (jackets) make children visible on the roads and crossroads, especially during dark times (dawn and dusk) and would prevent possible road accidents with children. Currently, shops in Kyrgyzstan do not offer light reflectors for purchase, and parents are not aware that such a tool exists. The project is implemented by selling light reflectors to anybody interested (i.e., parents for children). All revenue from sales would be distributed for free light reflectors for children from poor families in the “new settlements” around the capital city.
Project 15: “GreenTrends Social Enterprise for Education and Sustainable Goods” (Uganda)
by John Kamoga, Anastasia Steinbrunner, and Gitungo Wamere
The project, created by Brandt School students John Kamoga, Anastasia Steinbrunner, Gitungo Wamere, would start as a low threshold-high ceiling channel to provide income to vulnerable people in Uganda leveraging their knowledge of natural materials and ecosystems. It shall expand into providing schools with an educational component to increase innovation and encourage creative thinking through project-based curriculum and product creation challenges. As material cultivation expands, they would use it as a platform for climate positive agricultural practices and environmentally conscious consumption. The project intends to address gaps in income, education, and sustainable agriculture.
Three winning projects will be chosen after careful evaluation of the applications by a jury of experts. This jury thereby considers the following questions: How charitable is the project? How much potential and sustainability is incorporated into the project? Will the prize money be used responsibly and effectively? Is the project likely to be actualized?
Want to learn more about the Commitment Award? Visit the website http://commitmentaward.org/