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“Skill-building opportunities, access to professionals in the field, and a safe space for individuals from different backgrounds to interact with one another” Izman Suhail, 22 years old

I was born in the Maldives which is a developing country that is extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Growing up in the capital city Male’, I experienced the politics of Maldivian development firsthand and this influenced my interests and future aspirations. Now, as a 22-year-old Political Science student, I am learning more about politics, economics and how different subjects can be used to further my understanding of development in the context of my home. One of the most memorable lessons I received about development was at a Social Innovation Camp conducted in July 2018.

Miyaheli, the Social Innovation Camp, served as a 2-day startup workshop which young adults aged 18-30 could participate in to find innovative solutions to problems they believed their communities were facing. I was part of a group aiming to create a new enterprise in an island in one of the southern atolls of Maldives. Without giving too much away, the ultimate goal of the enterprise was to eventually expand enough so that Maldives can stop importing, and eventually export, a specific product. Making this vision a reality required a platform that encouraged contributions from different perspectives and that was precisely what Miyaheli provided.

The time-sensitive nature of the camp incentivized groups to be more focused and collaborative in creating suitable business models that would eventually be presented to judges on the final day. Not only did Miyaheli provide skill-building opportunities and access to professionals in the field, it provided a safe space for individuals from different backgrounds to interact with one another in order to accomplish a common goal. Miyaheli was an example of development from the bottom-up, where young individuals collaborated on developing solutions to communal problems, and I am incredibly grateful to have been a part of it.

Miyaheli UNDP

The Miyaheli social innovation camps are organized by UNDP supported by the Government of Australia and partnered by Ooredoo. It brings together youth from across the Maldives, to cultivate their ideas using digital and non-digital tools to create both tech-based and non tech-based social innovations to pressing social issues.

The camps have now been held for three consecutive years and this year, solutions were proposed around: creating a peaceful and tolerant community; increasing women’s voices; using new technology to create successful businesses; building youth movements; and creating green innovation.

By Izman Suhail

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