Open IDEO asks: how can social businesses improve the health of low-income communities? |

Open IDEO asks: how can social businesses improve the health of low-income communities?

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In 2005, during a visit to Paris, Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus proposed a joint venture to the chairman of Danone (spelled Dannon in the US). The objective was to supply Danone's delicious yogurt to the malnourished children of Bangladesh. They would add micronutrients to the yogurt so that if a child ate two yogurts per week for a year, they would regain full health.

Yunus explained to Franck Riboud of Groupe Danone that this would be a social business driven by a social objective. In this structure, no profit is made by the investors. Profits are instead recycled back into the business, expanding it to reach more children. Yunus believes that social business dollars have endless life because they continuously recycle to touch many more lives.

In much the same way as Yunus helped the impoverished children of Bangladesh, Open IDEO has extended an invitation to all of us. In partnership with the Holistic Social Business Movement (HSBM) of Caldas–a joint venture between the Grameen Creative Lab and the Government of Caldas, Colombia–people are invited to join together and help design ideas that promote how social business development can improve health in low-income areas. Caldas is one of these areas, in the heart of the coffee-producing zone in Colombia. Manizales, the capital of Caldas, has a poverty rate of 57.1 percent and the people face many serious health issues, such as:

  • Infant health and mortality: 8.3 percent of newborns are born underweight and Caldas has a 12.5 percent infant mortality rate
  • Malnutrition: 27.1 percent of female-led households suffer from severe food insecurity. And for those who do have access to food, unhealthy or poor nutrition often leads to high cholesterol and heart disease.
  • Reproductive and sexual health: Caldas experiences high rates of teenage pregnancies, HIV/AIDS, and uterine cancer
  • Unhealthy living conditions: Residents in Caldas often use asbestos to build their roofs, which causes high rates of respiratory disease. Residents also face overcrowding, which can lead to serious health consequences, especially during mudslides and other periods of intense weather.

OpenIDEO, as described on their website, “is a place where people design better, together for social good.” The website invites people to collaboratively design society-changing solutions to myriad social problems. They break down the creative process into a step-by-step series of cognitive leaps, from inspiration to concept to evaluation. By going through each stage, questions are posed, ideas are shared, concepts are refined by the community, and finally a winning concept is picked.

What are you waiting for? Get started now--share your knowledge and creative ideas, read the challenge brief, and start posting your inspiration.




About the author

Lori Mehen - Lori Mehen is an Account Manager in Brand Communications + Design at Red Hat. She grew up in Los Angeles, CA and now resides in Durham, NC with her husband and three kids. Lori enjoys water skiing, cooking and car racing.