Ideathon creates collaborative space to come up with innovative answers to address problems affecting communities in Caribbean
To foster innovation and volunteering in the Caribbean, The Trust for the Americas, in partnership with Citi Jamaica, Citi Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI) and the Institute of Law and Economics (ILE), recently held a virtual event called ‘Global Community Day Ideathon’ to engage beneficiaries from the DIA Labs for Youth Innovation in Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago, alongside Citi volunteers, to collaborate in a brainstorming session to seek disruptive solutions to everyday problems affecting their communities.
This initiative is part of the activities withinCiti’s annual corporate-wide day of service, Global Community Day, where team-building opportunities are generated to allow employees to make a direct and meaningful contribution that help to address a range of community needs – from mentoring low-income youth to conserving parks and educating people about the value of protecting healthy and sustainable ecosystems.
Among the speakers at the Ideathon were Mitch De Silva, Trinidad and Tobago Citi country officer; Eva Lewis, Citi Jamaica country officer; Linda Eddleman, CEO of The Trust for the Americas; and Shanae Owen, project officer in the Institute of Law & Economics Jamaica.
Rodrigo Iriani, senior program manager for DIA at The Trust for the Americas, served as host.
“After the challenges we faced with the pandemic, it is a good time to reflect on the importance of volunteering and giving back to make change. This Ideation is an interactive collaboration to really help develop the whole ecosystem of the community,” shared Eddleman.
In the hour and a half session, the participants from Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, and Citi volunteers worked in groups to come up with creative solutions, based on economic development, innovation, use of technology and entrepreneurship, to help address local issues regarding climate change and the environment, gender equality, agriculture, and sustainable tourism.
This dynamic allowed partakers to detect key partners such as government agencies, NGOs, civil society entities, and even media influencers to contribute to problems indentified including lack of funding for eco-based companies or service providers, low literacy among farmers, food waste in all-inclusive local hotels, and the inequality of rights and opportunities for women and girls to fulfill their potential.
One of the participants, Olivia Shaw-Lovell, from Jamaica, stressed “the need to attack gender power imbalance with empowerment, and early education and guidance around cultural norms and stereotypes”.
Said Shaw-Lovell: “It is also important to address the situation from four main levels: Government, through public policies that include marginalised communities with a focus on gender equity; Parents/Adults, with parenting sessions; Teens/Young Adults, through a Caribbean-wide social media campaign; and Children, using interactive games that show women in non-traditional roles.”
In his comments, De Silva said that the Global Community Day Ideathon was “a clear example of what we can achieve if we work together”.
He added: “Look at the innovative solutions that emerged from this short session and imagine the reach, and the change we can make if we collaborate more often. I’m sure entrepreneurs are going to benefit from opportunities like this, and I look forward to the stories that will be written in the DIA Labs.”
Through state-of-the-art technology, and digital and entrepreneurial curricula, the DIA Labs for Youth Innovation seek to empower citizens for social change.
“DIA – Democratising Innovation in the Americas, is a regional programme with a multi-stakeholder approach, inviting public officials, youth, academic institutions, and international agencies to use collective intelligence to achieve transformation,” concluded Iriani.
Since 2017, Citi Foundation and The Trust for the Americas have launched a DIA Lab in both Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. From 2017 to 2020, over 1,973 youngsters directly benefited from the labs, acquiring digital skills crucial to solving challenges in their communities and building economic opportunities.