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Innovation Challenge: How to raise money for UNICEF

“It’s all about awareness and transparency”

MAASTRICHT. A sign saying ‘No girls allowed’ at the School of Business and Economics. A sign saying ‘No water’ at the sports centre and ‘No toilet’ at the faculty. “It’s all about awareness for the living conditions of refugee children. People need disruptive reminders to know what it is like to have no access to clean water, not to have the right to go to school. As soon as that awareness is there, you tell them that UNICEF can solve these problems for refugee children. The only thing you have to do is give some money.”

It was not just a pitch workshop, network drinks and dinner, a dialogue and lectures that were on the programme of the Maastricht Global Entrepreneurship Week last week. New this year was the Innovator Challenge, in which students formed small teams and went looking for the best way UNICEF could collect money for children in refugee camps. In pitches of no more than four minutes long, the teams told their stories in the Sint Janskerk last Thursday. A jury, consisting of UNICEF employees assessed the ideas.

Where one student team – representing many nationalities – argued for signs that would make people more aware of the problems that refugees have to deal with, another team chose to follow a UNICEF employee on Internet, to show where the money donated ends up and what it is used for. “If you know what UNICEF is up to, you want to help them and donate with just one click,” was the idea. “The key is transparency.”

Another team suggested creating a virtual-reality travel community. “You bid on an object, buy it, and carry it to a next destination in the world. The object – for example, a small globe - is yours for a while. Then the next one makes a bid and carries the object to another place. It’s about uniting the world by an object that travels. There will be an event when all objects are reunited. The event as well as the bids will raise money.”

The jury thought the last idea was the best. These students will get a job interview at UNICEF, a letter of recommendation and a LinkedIn recommendation.

Mind Your Business

On 28-29 November, the Mind Your Business event will take place in Maastricht. It has - just like the Entrepreneurship week - an entrepreneurial character but focuses more on hands-on workshops, such as how to start your business in Maastricht, what type of legal action is required, where to get funding, etc. Not only students are welcome, refugees are also invited and will be present, as well as citizens (young and old, from different backgrounds) from Maastricht. More information http://mindyourbusinessmaastricht.com

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