Together with people, government, private sector, and civil society … literally: Reflecting on our launch activities

April 22, 2021

Deliberate-on-camera conversations with a diverse group of people, who are change leaders in their respective domains and influential voices among their followers.

“The reality is that the only way change comes, is when you lead by example.”, said Anne Wojcicki, an inspiring entrepreneur listed by Forbes as one of the World's 100 Most Powerful Women as of 2020.

Behind this quote is a guiding philosophy, which inspired all our Accelerator Lab’s launching activities.

This official launch wasn’t an item on our onboarding checklist. It was an intended opportunity to engage with the ecosystem, acknowledge our presence, and open room for inspiration, synergies, and collaborations. You will always hear our team talk about accelerating learning, disrupting how we do development, and changing obsolete discourse. That’s a huge responsibility which we absolutely take very seriously and were keen to reflect that from day one!

Easier said than done! We started by building a conscious design for all our launching activities that aims to lead by example.

Commit to our values to be Inclusive and empowering

In the urban fabric of old Cairo’s small alleys, we kick-started our launching activities. “Bayt Yakan” (translated as the house of Yakan), an architectural treasure renovated into a community center. This is where we gathered a diverse group of people to have our first conversations on signals of change: any development, idea or innovation that points to a future possibility different to today's norm. The place is an empowering location that sits at the center of local communities and tells a story of commitment and connectivity.

There, we had deliberate-on-camera conversations with a diverse group of people, who are change leaders in their respective domains and influential voices among their followers. They represent not only different sectors but also, different players in the ecosystems. Between civil society, private sector, community building, and entrepreneurs, those six champions had more than half a million followers collectively through various social media channels. It was exciting to see what conversations can intersect when we get such a diverse group to re-imagine development together. A conversation starter for numerous ideas to explore and experiment. Moreover, people got to hear terms like signals of change, experimentation, and acceleration through familiar voices that can help build a new narrative. Followed by an open survey, this conversation did not stop there but was an open call for everyone to contribute and see their role in building a better future.

Apply the narrative of collective intelligence and collective action

Collective intelligence is about harnessing insights, ideas, information through an orchestrated engagement with people and technology to achieve a goal, in our case, accelerating sustainable development. Collective action is about working toward that goal, together. Our launch campaign intended to show a glimpse of what we mean when we talk about collective intelligence and collective action.

If we want to re-shape development and respond to future calling, we needed to ask big questions: which signals of change happening today around us can guide more sustainable future scenarios? How can we capture those signals and use them to create change? First, we reached out to people, government, private sector, and civil society for answers. Collectively we gathered actionable insights on education, health, technology, labor, tourism, and development at large. Departing from that, we aligned our launch event agenda with that big picture. For example, the launch event had a highlight session with Her Excellency Minister of International Cooperation Dr. Rania El Mashat focusing on the power of collective intelligence and collective action from a policy maker’s perspective. Facilitated by one of our own Gina Lucarelli, Team leader UNDP Accelerator labs, this turned into a harmonized conversation on acceleration and learning, with a local flavor.

Seize every opportunity to approach complexity with learning

You might know by now that UNDP Accelerator Labs operate through what we call learning cycles. We start anything we do with a learning question. From that point, we sense around that question, explore challenges and opportunities, design solutions, and test them. This official launch was a space for learning, not only for the audience but for us as well.

With a new discourse, we questioned which medium can best help us deliver our message? So, we decided to diversify and test with our pre-launch activities. Between published video interviews, static content, virtual webinars, and anonymous surveys we were able to collectively reach around 90,000 people through social media and across various channels to date. We traced a significant peak with humanized content that guided our post launch campaign for wider engagement with our ecosystem.

We finally asked for our virtual launch, how can we best unbox our approaches and explain them to the audience in such short amount of time? In our last blog, we talked about the power of “show don’t tell”, and that is what we decided to do. The wealth of learnings we encounter through our global Accelerator Lab network is inspiring and humbling. It was the perfect venue to invite fellows from the region’s accelerator labs to share real life examples on what we mean when we talk about solutions mapping, exploration, and experimentation. Insights and stories from Tunisia, Sudan, Lebanon, and Iraq that helped bring in a clearer picture to our partners but also to colleagues in our own country office.

We might have just officially launched, but UNDP Egypt Accelerator lab is already busy as for the past five months probing one of the most pressing sustainable development challenges in our local context “socio-economic resilience in the face of climate change”. From day one, we got into action mode, trying to apply innovative approaches and methodologies brought in through the Accelerator labs global network. In upcoming blog posts, we will be telling you more about that, and meanwhile, the time is for building synergies, forging partnerships, and taking actions.

We invite everyone to share local solutions, ideas, and collaboration interest tapping into collected signals of change and imagined scenarios to experiment and grow- together.

The launch of Accelerator Lab in Egypt