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IDDS Botswana Participant Applications are Now Open!

Thursday, November 12, 2015
Sher Vogel

Apply online here by December 14, 2015!

What is IDDS?

The International Development Design Summit (IDDS) is an intense, hands-on design experience that brings together people from all walks of life to co-create low cost technologies that improve the lives and livelihoods of people living in poverty.  IDDS is part of the International Development Innovation Network (IDIN) program, an effort funded by USAID's U.S. Global Development Lab.  The IDIN program is led by MIT, but includes other academic, institutional, and innovation center partners in the US, Brazil, Ghana, Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda, and Singapore, as well as over 600 former IDDS participants living and working across the globe.  IDDS is a collaborative effort organized by local organizers and other IDIN members.  Read more about IDDS and IDIN here.

What is IDDS Botswana?

IDDS Botswana is a four-week summit with a particular focus on technologies that enhance livelihood development. It will be hosted in D’Kar, Botswana (a small village in the Kalahari Desert that is a 7-hour bus ride from Gaborone) from June 25 - July 23, 2016. It will bring together people from all over the world, with about half of the participants coming from Botswana and half coming from other countries. IDDS Botswana will be a community-based summit with about one third of the participants coming from D’Kar, which provides a rich opportunity for co-creation and cultural immersion. Read more about IDDS Botswana here.

What would a participant do at IDDS Botswana?

Over the four-week period, participants will learn about the basics of the design process, engage in community-based co-creation, experience some of the traditions of the local community, learn how to understand and frame problems, and work together in project teams to create low-cost technologies that address local design challenges.  By the end of the summit, each diverse participant team will have created a basic prototype and venture proposition of their proposed solution.    

Participants will live in a small dormitory in D’Kar.  They should expect to:

  • live in a remote area under basic conditions for one month
  • stay in dormitory rooms with 3 - 4 roommates
  • wake up early
  • be chilly (it is winter)
  • conserve water (it is the desert, after all)
  • eat local food of limited variety
  • meet amazing people
  • spend a lot of time around a campfire
  • work hard and have fun

What would a participant do after IDDS Botswana?

After IDDS, each participant becomes a member of the larger International Development Innovation Network (IDIN) with over 600 other IDDS alumni from all over the globe. Through IDIN, alumni have access to a variety of resources and opportunities to support the project they started at IDDS and/or other innovative ideas they develop after IDDS.  During the summit, we have specific sessions that orient participants to what it means to be a part of the network, how to stay connected, and what opportunities and resources are available (for you, your project, and/or the community you worked with).

What types of participants are we looking for?

For IDDS Botswana we are looking to bring together a diverse mix of 40 participants who:

  • Share the IDDS Spirit (hands-on, open-minded, diverse, resourceful, empathetic, enthusiastic and resilient)
  • Are at all levels of experience in the design process… from beginners to experts.
  • Are excellent team players
  • Have a strong likelihood to continue working on their project and/or another IDIN activity after the summit
  • Enjoy problem solving and creating things with their hands
  • Have diverse professional backgrounds including students, teachers, homemakers, farmers, entrepreneurs, engineers, designers, government workers and community activists and more!

Are there any eligibility criteria?

Yes, in order to be considered for IDDS Botswana, all applicants must:

  • Complete the application on time – no late or incomplete applications will be reviewed.
  • Be at least 18 years of age to apply
  • Be able to attend the entire summit
  • Have no prior summit experience (i.e. this will be your first IDDS)
  • Be comfortable living in a remote area under basic conditions for one full month

How much does it cost to participate in IDDS Botswana?

The cost of participation is $650 USD per person plus other personal expenses such as travel, visa, passport, vaccinations, and other incidentals.

The organizing committee does everything it can to keep costs as low as possible. The following are the expenses associated with participation in IDDS Botswana.  All costs are in USD.


Amount (in USD)

Subsidized room and board and local transportation*

650 USD

Transport (Airfare or bus fare)

Varies per participant - depending on where you are coming from. You can view sample airfares and purchase tickets at websites like


Varies per participant - If you do not have a passport, you will need to acquire one to travel to Botswana. The cost of the passport will depend on your country of citizenship. You are responsible for acquiring your own passport.

Visa and Transit Visas – single entry

Approx. 160 USD. You will acquire a Botswana visa through the organizing team.  Note: if you are flying through South Africa, you will need to aquire a transit visa on your own after you have recieved a from the organizing team.

Vaccinations, Medications, and Other Incidentals (such as phone, airtime, etc.)

Varies per participant.  Check with your local health provider for recommendations on appropriate medications.  You are responsible for getting any vaccinations required to enter the county.


~ 650 - 2000 USD, depending on your transport, passport, visa, and vaccination costs

on July 24 as well as local transport within Botswana.


We do not want cost to be a barrier to anyone who wants to apply for or participate in IDDS.  The organizing team is committed to working with you to find ways to meet the costs.  We have created an online resource to guide you here: IDDS Tips for Fundraising.  For those who are in greatest need, there is a small pool of funds available for partial scholarships. Financial assistance applications will be sent to applicants upon their acceptance to the program.

When and how can I apply?

Applications are now open!  If you are interested to participate in IDDS Botswana, please complete the application here by December 14, 2015 at 5pm EST.  While we prefer that you submit your application through our online platform or have someone help you to do so, if you are in an area with low internet access, you can write in the answers and mail to the address below by December 14:

IDDS Botswana

c/o Sher Vogel at MIT D-Lab

MIT Building N51

265 Massachusetts Ave.

Cambridge, MA 02139 USA


Any incomplete applications or applications received after 5pm EST will not be considered.  If you have any questions or technical difficulties, please email