Creative Disruptors

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Creative Disruptors: Act Local, Think Global

United KingdomTanzania
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

An appropriate technology challenge for students in the UK and Tanzania to learn, make and share together. Participants must research and develop a prototype that fits a local community need. Supported by modular resources, students explore how their international peers tackle the same challenge.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if education possessed the ability to nurture not just 'know what' but 'know how' and 'know why' and do so across traditional boundaries?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Education is becoming more standardized. More and more we measure young people on whether they are 'right' (or 'wrong') and their ability to repeat not innovate. In doing so we are losing natural creative capacity and curiosity. This measurement is rolling out globally into communities vulnerable to outside influence and environmental change; displacing people from their local knowledge and reducing the ability to empathize and problem solve.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

We envision a world of Creative Disruptors who learn, make and share together across traditional boundaries. Through schools, CD provides an extra-curricular student-led programme of online modular resources to help problem solve, research and develop a concept to prototype. Each year CD launches a new challenge: 2016 is 'HOME'. Each month teams share progress, perspectives and thoughts via our online platform exploring how their international peers tackle the same brief. The programme runs over 6 months, culminating in a final 'pitch' presentation by each team within their respective country. Students have access to makerspace facilities that help build creative capacity within design and technology and supported by a team of mentors.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

"Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world", so said one late great man. All the more reason to carefully consider its impact in shaping young minds. CD is designed to focus students on their local environment rather than distance them from the world through a standardized subject curriculum. Whilst supporting key National Curriculum objectives, CD allows students to lead their own learning, providing supportive tools to learn, make and share between each other. Participants can apply their learning outside the classroom, problem solve key issues affecting their community as well as build creative capacity, empathy and wider cross-cultural understanding of how different tactics are used to tackle the same brief.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

In 2016 we will reach >100 participants (UK & Tanzania) across 5 schools with expectation to grow intake by 100% in 2017. Within the UK we work with 60:40 ratio of girls-boys and 55:45 within Tanzania. We expect CD figures to average 50:50 within the first few years encouraging greater gender equality in maker-related careers and services (e.g. 80% of makerspace users within the UK are men: Nesta 2015). Quantitative data is collected on employment skills progress and attendance. All participants produce an online portfolio, showcasing what they have produced and the processes behind this, providing qualitative impact analysis on creative capacity building. All participants keep an ongoing work diary of their individual progress helping to measure impact in empathy and cross-cultural understanding. The CD model projects that the cost:student ratio will lower as participation increases.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

The programme is easy to replicate so long as local spaces are available to participate in learning and making. We feel this is an important step in exciting students into future maker-related career pathways and exploring new technologies. However, it is not necessarily crucial to employ formal makerspaces as the core technology focus is on appropriate technology solutions that can be produced and maintained within the user's own environment. So long as participants can access the online platforms intermittently (via app or computer), there is no geographical limit to the programme spread.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

We are already self-funding the pilot of this programme for 2016 with in-kind support from the UK and Tanzanian makerspace facilities. We have a number of corporate supporters willing to engage in unrestricted and restricted funding. We also have a UK funding model in progress for schools to engage their participants in fundraising for general participation costs; helping create a sense of ownership within the student-led style of programme.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

A variety of different orgs exist within creative capacity building education (e.g Fab Labs, The Maker Library Network) with 63% of UK makerspaces offering school programmes on-site (Nesta 2015). Most however focus on producing enterprising ideas rather than addressing local technological needs. We believe there is a need to offer creative capacity building alongside empathy building, thereby supporting development of global life skills and cross-cultural learning. The Creative Disruptors international curriculum brings students together to learn, make and share across traditional boundaries.

Founding Story

Story 1 | "Unbelievably it's not just Kanye West who thinks Africa is a country. Working in UK education since 2011 I have been surprised (and alarmed) at the number of young people who a) refer to it as such b) think that poverty can be 'solved' and c) that the solution is found externally". - Lucy, BGE. Story 2 | "Tanzania is full of creative capacity and 'know how' but with a formal education system that limits learning to 'know what'". - Debbie, Twende. Story 3 | "So often learning within a school system isn't able to give students the time or space to simply think". - Rachel, Thoughtbox. We met in Tanzania in 2013 and CD is the culmination of 3 years of research and development.


Creative Disruptors is a collaborative programme developed by three international organisations who have been working together since 2013: Bright Green Enterprise, a UK - Tanzania organisation delivering enterprise and skills workshops to schools across the UK and Tanzania at Key 2-5 since 2008. Thoughtbox Education, a UK - Tanzania organisation delivering an online global learning curriculum to schools in the UK and Tanzania at Key Stage 3-5. Twende, an Arusha based Innovation Center in Tanzania (supported by MIT D-Lab and a member of the International Design Innovation Network (IDIN) working with students in regional schools across primary and secondary. The programme is also supported within UK outreach activities by Makerversity at Somerset House, a unique makerspace for design and technology creators where maker lesson workshops, a 'hack day' and the team finals will be held. The lead team members are: Lucy Devall | Director at Bright Green Enterprise | MSc Innovation and Sustainability for International Development (SPRU, University of Sussex, UK). Lucy has been a senior executive for a fortune 500 manufacturer specialising in clothing design and technology, living and working in the Far East, United States and mainland Europe, going on to project manage for a community education organisation in Mount Meru, Tanzania. She is a graduate of International Marketing and is finishing completion of her Masters at the Science Policy Research Unit at Sussex focusing her research on Tanzania. Rachel Musson | Director at Thoughtbox Education | PGCE Secondary English Education (Goldsmiths, UK) | MSc Shakespeare and Theatre (Shakespeare Institute, UK). Rachel has worked as a teacher of secondary education for over ten years; is a writer for educational reform and an educational consultant developing KS3-5 curricula within the UK and Tanzania. She has also managed and lead student programmes in South America, Asia and Africa and has lived and worked within the Tanzania education sector since 2013. Deborah Tien | Development Director at Twende | BSc Astrophysics (Wellesley College, United States). Debbie has been a software technology startup founder in the States; a researcher on love, sex, and marriage in India; and a designer of solar-powered autoclaves in Nicaragua and retina cell phone cameras in the UK. She graduated from Wellesley College with a degree in astrophysics and now focuses on developing strategy, marketing, and funding.