Inspired by the Arab spring, SolvEgypt seeks to open channels of communication among citizens who can come up with ideas and solutions for Egypt's most pressing challenges.
Sponsored by Nile University and the Academy of Scientific Research & Technology, SolvEgypt is an initiative developed and managed by Egyptian Startup Untap Technologies, which specialises in designing and creating digital competitions.
"Nile University and the Academy of Scientific Research came to us with the idea of a platform for Egyptians to vote and create petitions on whatever topics they feel need to be discussed or solved by a higher authority, just like the American petitioning system, where citizens vote on the petition and then the bill passes to the congress," says Salma El-Malah, manager of SolvEgypt and Community Manager at Untap technologies. "However, we thought why have a petitioning system when we can give space for something even bigger and far more creative? Egypt is full of innovative people who have solutions and insights that can help solve the challenges facing the country. So we thought why not give them a space where they can have an impact at solving problems?"
The initiative refers to problems as 'challenges' and, pairs each challenge with phases in order to reach solid outcomes. "First, the steps for each challenge varies with the type of the challenge itself, and we always start with the research phase because people need to educate themselves about the topic before they can start thinking about solutions," El-Malah explains. "Participants then think about the goals we need to reach with the challenge, then the idea phase where people start providing ideas for solutions, followed by the feedback phase, where people vote on the ideas presented and comment," she adds.
Crowdsourcing initiatives like this one are starting to come out in different forms around the Middle-East; earlier last year, Build Palestine emerged, with a goal similar to SolvEgypt's, as they believe the solutions for local problems can definitely be found within the community itself, giving people a chance to vote on what project should be pushed forward to adopted by a bigger organisation.
Moreover, their marketing strategy includes both the use of social media as a means of communication and a bigger offline strategy that is focused on real life interactions, giving workshops on design thinking - the ideology adopted by the platform. "Currently, we're keeping it within our networks and organisations we're familiar with, but we are planning to expand to the public soon," El Malah says.
SolvEgypt has also got an important pillar: their very own Rules of Dialogue. "They are essential to the platform from the very beginning, because we didn't want to create a space for people to come and complain, we want it to be a constructive place for people to share their ideas no matter how crazy they are, to make sure that everybody is respectful and productive in conversations instead of just being negative. Because if we lose that part, the platform goes to waste."
Check out the platform's website for more.)