Sir Ken Robinson criticized educational institutions around the world for hampering creativity among children. The whole purpose of public education, he says, is to produce university professors. Rather than regurgitating information, the DO School hopes to help the next generation come alive.
With a focus on allowing social entrepreneurs and impact makers to flourish, the school asks youth to work on challenges where they will learn how to put ideas into action. By learning from doing, the youth will acquire the skills needed to launch their own organizations.
“Our school tries to educate young social entrepreneurs from around the world, who come to us with an idea that they want to implement in their home countries,” said Marie Steinhoff, Communications Director. “Usually it’s people who are engaged, motivated, but don’t know how to set up their initiative or campaign or enterprise.”
Based in Hamburg, Germany, the DO School is a one-year program divided into two phases. The first involves a ten-week incubation period where fellows work on a challenge in Hamburg. During this phase, fellows will also transform their personal ideas into viable plans. The second involves a ten-month implementation period where fellows implement their plans in their home countries. They receive individual mentoring and online support during this phase.
Founder of the DO School, Florian Hoffmann, realized early on that he wanted to do something with impact. While he is well-educated, Hoffmann received most of his learning through fellowships. He developed the idea for the DO School together with the co-founder of the Dekeyser&Friends Foundation, which, up until this year, operated the Do School before it branched out.
Photo: Florian Hoffmann.
One of the previous challenges, the Peace Challenge, was presented by Scilla Elworthy, a peace activist and the founder of Oxford Research Group. The challenge asked fellows to establish an online portal that would highlight the successes and efforts of local peace builders across the world.
Elworthy believes in grassroots initiatives. “She said no United Nations, global company, organization, or NGO can know what a country needs. The best way to solve conflicts in an area is to listen to the people and to empower the people who actually are based in the conflict area to find ways to solve the conflict,” said Steinhoff. “That’s why she and her organization Peace Direct try to empower local peace builders.”
Every year, the DO School launches three challenges, typically alongside an influential expert at their craft. After each challenge is completed, fellows implement their own projects. Rosebill Satha Sambo decided to launch her own social business producing eco-friendly bamboo handicrafts in Malawi. Beyond putting Malawi on the business map, her vision is to provide youth and women entrepreneurial and weaving skills to become self-reliant and job creators.
Photo: Rosebill Satha Sambo.
Elizaveta Mamaliga hopes to use bees to create social, economic, and environmental benefits for Moldova. While honeybees are dying at unusually high rates, her enterprise Dulce Plai produces organic honey, sources from young rural bee keepers, and promotes biodiversity.
Photo: Dulce Plai team.
The latest challenge is being launched in partnership with Swedish clothing retailer H&M. For this challenge, fellows will create a green store prototype, which means that the store considers the environment in terms of materials, construction, and energy consumption.
“As a responsible company we want to make people in H&M stores more aware of sustainability aspects, helping to create a more conscious group of consumers worldwide and boost the innovation of a multinational company. We are excited to work with the 20 fellows to contribute to a more sustainable world,” said Angela Gallenz, Human Resource Manager of H&M Germany.
The prototype would be scalable to H&M stores worldwide. Upon completion, it will be tested for one week with real customers and staff in an H&M store in Germany.
“H&M is a powerful player in the garment market. If they want to do something and they realize that the topic of sustainability is really important, then we’re really happy to provide them with young, talented people from all over the world who will help them identify great ideas,” said Steinhoff.
Photos from the DO School.
Social Enterprise Buzz is a media company dedicated to covering social enterprise news from around the world. We publish a range of stories from startups to entrepreneurship, innovation, and finance, which showcase business making the world a better place. Read more.