“I Am a Big Fan of Innovative Educational Tools”
Who I Am: My name is Aleksandra Zemke. I am a Polish social entrepreneur, based in Barcelona, Spain. I am a big fan of design, new technologies, the start-up spirit and collaborative working. And I am extra passionate about innovative educational tools and smart solutions that help foster sustainable development.
What I Do: I founded Smilemundo in 2011 to support development processes with innovative ideas utilizing the Internet. From the beginning, I did not want the organization to have a classic structure. I dreamed of having it based on the collaborative work of young people from around the world. To date, more than 100 volunteers have contributed to the creation and growth of the organization.
How My Venture Works: At Smilemundo, we are constantly searching for innovative educational tools. In 2011, we started a crowdfunding platform for small non-profits. The platform ran for 1.5 years, showcasing more then 70 projects from all over the world and financially supporting the 20 most voted. However, we have discovered that what is really needed is teaching collaboration and, since 2013, we ́ve been working on SmileUrbo, an interactive simulation game designed to teach teamwork and consensus building in the community.
Our Impact: SmileUrbo inspires players to be proactive citizens. The game is now scaling in Europe. It has been introduced in Spain and Poland since May 2014 to local organizations. Out of over 100 players, the vast majority ended up moving from being individually competitive to contributing to team collaboration during the game. By the end of 2015, the game will reach over 500 players from schools, universities and local non-profits. SmileUrbo won the World Summit Youth Award, a leading international competition honoring excellence in the use of the Internet for social empowerment. The project also got funding and recognition from the European Comission and the Province of Barcelona. In the spring 2015, I will be visiting Washington DC to promote the game.
Why I Care: I was born and raised in Poland and grew up during a period of transformation from communism into democracy. What I experienced in a rapidly developing, post-communist society made me realize that no matter the situation, development depends on the capacities of grassroots movements. I deeply believe that we can live in a sustainable world, but what we need is a sense of shared responsibility so that we stop competing with each other and instead learn to work together. I know that sounds boring and cliché, but that’s why I am dedicated to finding fun paths for these processes!