SIGEF 2015 – Inspiration from worldwide projects

SIGEF 2015 took place over the weekend of the 23rd to 25th of October at the Bâtiment des Forces Motrices in Geneva, Switzerland.  The event gathered 50 Non-profit organizations, 76 international speakers, and 40 innovative projects, and hosted around 5000 people who engaged and connected around the theme of how to shape better times to come.

The project corner was a grand space at the entrance of the venue and was the first aspect of SIGEF 2015 to welcome visitors. Each day of the conference saw 20 projects in this space with a chance to meet a new crowd. The projects Jury Elie Ayoub, the head of projects, Tais Gadea Lara, an Argentinian journalist, Guillaume Bidron, a company owner, Hector Alvarez, last year’s award winner and Isabella de Brito from AIESEC Geneva also got the chance to walk through the projects hub, getting to know the candidates and the creative process behind their ideas. Among the project owners were Pinf Hry, a 14 years old boy, whose project involves games created for mentally disabled children. Green Road is a project to make roads by mixing bitumen and plastic, a problematic waste back in Kenya. The ideas were diverse and innovative.

The Jury eventually came up with a list of ten finalists for the project prize: Lensational, Pinf Hry, Kmerpad, Human Relais, Social Entrepreneurship for Marginalized Communities, Jeubosse, Isegeretoto, Swap&Dive, P3 Plastique/Projet/ Pochtte, Kalanda.

Finally, at the SIGEF award ceremony on Sunday 25th October, the winners were announced. The runner-ups were Lensational, a non-profit social enterprise founded in March 2013 with the vision of empowering women worldwide through photography. Lensational equips underprivileged women from developing countries with recycled digital cameras and photography training, then sells their pictures where 50% of revenue goes back to the women themselves. 
The second runner up was Kmerpad, an initiative to empower African women and protect the planet with washable sanitary pads FAM. 
The Jury price went to Human Relais, a great mobile application that allows people to connect with homeless people.
With the aid of Humans Relais, associations let you know the needs of a homeless person near you directly on your smartphone. Then, you will be able assist, meet, and share a good time with them.

Here are testimonies from project runner-ups:

HUMAN RELAIS

“By complete luck, I discovered the SIGEF call for projects through a tweet. I sent in my application and I was fortunate to be chosen. The SIGEF is a cocktail of extraordinary projects; I was able to share long moments of conversations on the topic of altruism, social entrepreneurship, and wonderful initiatives. The SIGEF was also a challenge, it meant getting out of my country and presenting my idea in front of an international jury. It was a double surprise for me to be in the 10 finalists and then winning the Jury prize. After 10 months of work, it definitely felt like a pay off. Winning the SIGEF 2015 Award gave another dimension to my project. It gave us credibility and conviction. The prize money is entirely going to the development of phase one of the application and we will keep the entire Horyou Community posted about its progress via the platform.”

KMERPAD

“We are delighted for the award we received two weeks ago in Geneva. This prize money will allow us to produce 300 kits of washable sanitary pads
FAM including the material we need (3 news machines and some fabrics).
These kits will benefit the young Cameroonian girls who will receive them as well as those who will produce them.

We are therefore grateful for the award and the financial support that will encourage us to keep our vision and empower women and protect the environment.”

LENSATIONAL

“We attended SIGEF 2015 as part of Lensational’s team, where we are all the same and work collaboratively towards achieving the goal of empowering women through photography. For three days we have lived together the experience of reuniting with others who are also looking to generate impact through solidarity and collaboration, because they believe in a better and more equal world in which we are all the same.
Getting in touch with all these wonderful projects that struggle to emerge as crosscurrent movements and generate sustainable changes worldwide, was both inspiring and motivating. And so was the team experience. Spending time together (all of it), sharing thoughts and ideas (and a house), walking around SIGEF (and the city) just corroborated me that I was in the right place with the right people, and that is a huge experience. There is kindness and caring, a lot of laughs, and even more dreams and strength to do it. We trust each other and work together towards achieving what we believe in. And all this, I also perceived from the other projects and people.
I saw all of us moving forward, together, contributing to a more compassionate and equal place to live in, that may seem “drops of water in the ocean”, but when there are really a lot of drops, that becomes an ocean.”

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