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IDIN's Ghana Chapter Fosters Growth & Innovation at Annual Makers Faire

Thursday, September 24, 2015
Jorge Appiah

In line with IDIN’s goals to empower young innovators to design, develop, and disseminate technologies to improve the lives of people living in poverty, the IDIN Ghana chapter has been working with Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology’s (KNUST) Creativity Group and Ghana Engineering Student Association (GESA) in organizing a student innovation and design competition called the GESA Makers Faire for the past three years.

The GESA Makers Faire competition is modeled on a human-centered design and asset-based community approach in solving problems to improve the lives of the local people. It also seeks to encourage interdisciplinary approaches and teamwork among KNUST’s undergraduate students from different faculties and disciplines.

This year’s Makers Faire has been off the hook with great involvement of the IDIN Network members here in Ghana. The core organizing team includes four IDIN Network members: Jorge Appiah, Project Coordinator; Helen Amorin, Financial Secretary; Samuel Kwame Yabani, Competition and Business Training Coordinator; and Johnson Asante as a KNUST/IDIN Project Representative.

This year’s event started with a “Makers Early Meeting” organized for the 120 student applicants. The four-day session was designed to expose students to field experts in the challenge focus areas, which included energy (cooking stoves and renewables), health, agriculture (post harvest and smart climate technology), and waste management (recycling, water, sanitation). There was also a community visit by teams, team formation classes, design thinking classes and asset-based community approach classes.  Students formed 18 teams and pitched their ideas on the final day of the Makers Early Meeting. The top ten teams were chosen to enter the main competition phase, where they are given funding to help bring their ideas and solutions to life.

 The main competition phase is made up of a Design Week, Business & Entrepreneurship Week, Fabrication and Making Week, and exhibition and presentation day. IDIN Network members served as class facilitators and mentors for the teams. Samuel facilitated a class and gave a presentation on appropriate technology, sharing some innovative projects built during IDDS Tanzania.  Jorge facilitated an interactive class on “Makers and their Society,” where the young makers related and discussed the role of the makers’ movement and local innovation in the development of the communities and improving the lives of their people.

Mentorship of student teams offered the avenue to directly impact young innovators, sharing valuable experience and disseminate IDIN knowledge. IDIN Network members Johnson Opoku Asante, Helen Amorin, Samuel Kwame Yabani, Crossman Amenu, Yaw Sarbeng, Richard Begyinah, and William Nuhoho all volunteered to serve as mentors for this year’s Makers Faire. The strong dedication from the IDIN members and testimonies received from the teams regarding the mentorship being provided has been ever greater than expected.

The IDIN Ghana chapter plans to continue to support the competition through the final day of exhibition, and looks forward to seeing the final prototypes. The involvement of the IDIN Ghana chapter has contributed significantly to this year’s Makers Faire in achieving its ultimate goal of bringing out life-changing prototypes built by the various teams, which will be exhibited on the September 30.

Jorge Appiah is an IDIN Network member and one of the founders and organizers of the GESA Makers Faire. Stay tuned for more about the Makers Faire projects in the following weeks!