JuHu, designed to empower.

JuHu, designed to empower.: We are fighting stigmatization of disabled people by presenting their skills as craftsmen of high quality design objects.

Riga, Latvia
Project Stage:
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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

We are creating a system based on a community of people, uniting their skills and knowledge with the aim to create, produce and sell high quality responsible products.

We are fighting stigmatization of people with disabilities by presenting their skills as craftsmen of high quality design objects.

We provide high quality design, manufacturing tools & a way for the craftsmen to gain recognition from the society for their quality work.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

People suffering from disabilities are hidden from the society put in boxes we call "care centers" where they are taken care of. This has as a side effect to restrict their interaction with the "outside world", with as a consequence the impression for the "client" (social structure attendee) not to be part of the society. Social structures are doing in the vast majority of cases a great job in providing assistance to those with disabilities. However there is a need for a possibility for the clients to have a contact and get recognition from the society, based on their skills. By being recognized and appreciated for what they do, the clients become better integrated in the society. Fighting stigmatization by changing the attitude.

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

We aim to fight this stigmatization by showing the high quality skills these people with disabilities have, working on empathy and not sympathy by presenting them as highly skilled craftsmen. Throughout the system we designed, the "client" can receive recognition in a safe way through specifically designed tools, such as an online platform, and their names proudly written on each object they produced. In our team are a social designer, a product designer and an ergo therapist, we also developed a specific way to adapt existing designs or create new designs in the particular context we are working in. Aside from the design guidelines, we also developed tools to assist the therapist in his work . And sharing the stories of the objects.
Impact: How does it Work

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

By gaining recognition from customers through a safe channel for the high quality design objects they have been making in the workshop, the clients are feeling better accepted in the society. At Gaismas Stars is working a client named Ralfs, throughout his participation in the project he gained self confidence, and does feel comfortable being around people. During an event we co-organized in the premises of the social structure, he was responsible to present the project to the visitors. He is now working part time in a high quality charity shop as a salesperson (the charity shop is called Otra Elpa). He came later to us and expressed his envy to see the JuHu products made at Gaismas Stars to be sold in the Shop he is working in.

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

The collaboration scheme developed in collaboration with G.S. has allowed us (JuHu) to design a system that can be replicated in different contexts of disabilities. We are continually developing new tools to support the mission. In an immediate future: We will start a collaboration with a second partner in Riga (the house of Bethlehem) to produce a second design object (planned to be in the shop shelves at the begining of April). The same partner invited us to participate with JuHu products and platform in the opening of their wood production facility 20km from Riga. (currently hunting for designs to be adapted). We want to bring a 2nd design object to be produced by "Gaismas Stars" Within a year: We aim to start the first collaboration abroad with one city in Finland which approached us. We aim to have 5 different products produced in 5 different production locations.

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

In the market, we do observe a quantity of small size operation working directly with the people impaired and excluded by providing work to them directly with a production imperative. JuHu is a link between different partners. In the JuHu project, we aim to collaborate directly with the social structures and we offer them : • a tool for their client to gain recognition from the society in a safe way • high quality designs adapted to their environment (and the packaging going with it) • retribution for the production of quality designs • an access to a network of selected shops accordingly to the designs • a platform to communicate with the other social structures part of JuHu • useful tools as "work certificates" for their clients, and we develop new ones with our partners. • tools for production and the first batch of material (if not covered by the fundraising)


The most important aspect is for us to have a good contact and collaboration together in the aim of developing and replicating the system. We need a team who embraces the same ideals and dreams than we do, with knowledge in educational therapy, design, marketing and business. The expertise of Janis (therapist at Gaismas stars) and his colleagues is extremely valuable, nevertheless with their open minds and envy to experiment it is an empowering experience working together with them. We aim for Gaismas Star to be a "research center" for JuHu and invest more in them to develop more methods and experiment different approaches in the future. They have very interesting possibilities to expend at their location. The relation on the "business side" has been simplified to a manufacturer --> wholesale distributor for administrative reasons. Both teams meet on a regular base.
About the Lead Co-Creation Partners
JuHu ethical
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Type of organization (e.g. NGO, association, not-for-profit, foundation, social enterprise)


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Organization Name

JuHu ethical

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founder & member of the board



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Primary European Country where this Project is creating social impact

, RGR, Riga

Additional European countries where this Project is creating social impact

We are currently in discussion stage with partners in Finland, interest has been shown to the project by one swiss institution

Select the category that best fits the type of your project:

New products & services: Entries in this category develop and offer essentials product and services that address needs currently unmet, Job Creation: Entries in this category create new jobs for people away from the labor market, Other: If you feel that your entry does not fit any of the above categories, please suggest another category name..

What awards or honors has the project received?

Brigāde grant to support creative, sustainable entrepreneurship, based in art and culture, which deals with social issues.

Project Summary
Co-Creation Model: Tell us about your main strategic partners and how the partnership truly create value. For each Partner please include its type (business/social/public), its name, a short description, its key motivation to participate in the co-creation project, and the key contributions it is making in the co-creation project. Please follow the format displayed below:

JuHu ethical (LTD)

-Type of partner [business/social/public]
Social enterprise

-Short description sentence [Max 25 words/partner]
JuHu ethical is a social enterprise with the aim of fighting the stigmatization people with disabilities are victims of. JuHu is achieving it by presenting the persons with disabilities as craftsmen of high quality design objects.

-Key motivation to participate in the co-creation project [Max 35 words/partner]
We were looking for a partner to work with regarding our aim with JuHu, and through sharing our ideas we met one ergo therapist working in "Gaismas Stars" with whom we had a great contact, and started the adventure with.

-Key contributions in the co-creation project [Max 35 words/partner]
JuHu financed a full ceramic workshop to equip Gaismas stars, provided the design the necessary training to the therapist and clients, as well as the first batch of material for the teaching and beginning of production. Providing education about "what is design" to the clients.

-Partner 2
-Type of partners [business/social/public]
Gaismas Stars: Association financed by public funds

-Short description sentence [Max 25 words/partner]
Gaismas Stars is an association founded in 1997 with the aim of supporting those affected by mental illnesses (schizophrenia) and their families. Gaismas stars aim is to develop the abilities of their client and help them to be better included in the society.

-Key motivation to participate in the co-creation project [Max 35 words/partner]
Gaismas stars mission meets JuHu mission, it opens new possibilities for us with workshop equipment. We needed a way to bring recognition from the outside to our clients and working with JuHu allows us to do it in a proper way.

-Key contributions in the co-creation project [Max 35 words/partner]
Organization of workshops to test diverse methods we developed together, creating tools to be used in the collaboration with JuHu (such as work certificates).

From the very beginning it has been a true collaboration, a process where we both learned from each-other and have been able to develop tools commonly by uniting our skills in different domains. We have observed interesting positive side effect in both organizations during the project.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact. Please specify using qualitative and quantitative data (e.g. # of indirect and direct beneficiaries); help us understand how this solution truly makes a difference.

The project is now running its proof of concept for 6 months.
The impact we have been able to observe so far is

For the direct impact we can measure with numbers:
A lowering of medication dosage for some of the participants in the project.
An increase of earning by the clients (they are receiving less than the minimum income amount) leading to more independence.
Extra earnings for Gaismas stars, that will allow them in the future to make improvement in their premises.

For the impact we can not measure with numbers:
The request from the clients to learn Latvian (they are mostly from the russian minority in Latvia)
We have heard from some families that they now need to spend less time taking care of the family member with a disability.
Higher recognition of Gaismas stars by the welfare department (leading to an increase in subsidies)

Funding: How is your project financial supported? [select all that apply]

Individuals, Foundations, Businesses, Regional government, Customers.

Sustainability Plan: Has your project already reached financial sustainability? If not, what is this solutio’s plan to ensure financial sustainability? Do the main partners have enough stake to sustain the solution? If this project requires limited budget, how will other resources be secured to maintain or grow this work?

According to our calculations, we will reach financial sustainability (with one full time employee) when we will be producing 5 different products.

We are currently working with one partner producing one product.
In the next 2 months, we will launch the 2nd product with the 2nd partner. (discussing now for a 3rd workshop and a 3rd product).

We have managed to gain access to the proper partners that can connect us and promote the project in the diverse care structures in Latvia, and we see ourselves reaching the financial sustainability within the 2014 year.

Some of our partners have money to invest to be part of JuHu, some do have very limited funds (as with G.S.), we do try to provide them with the workshop equipment through grant programs and public investments in our partners' premises.

We have also started to make valuable contacts in Finland to replicate the model.

Founding Story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the Partners to get started and/or to see the potential for this to succeed.

As designers, we both at JuHu wanted to have a positive impact with the way the product was made, and how the object could bring something to the person manufacturing it.
At Gaismas Stars, they were producing objects, but had difficulties to sell them and had no access to "design" objects. Therefore making less attractive products that were bought for the big part by sympathy.

When we meet and exchanged our ideas, we realized that Gaismas Stars looking for a partner providing what JuHu aimed to do, and Gaismas Stars with their drive to experiment and test was the perfect partner to work with for JuHu.

From there on we worked together in identifying the needs, experimenting and testing different ways to operate, this has been possible through a grant allowance by the Latvian center for contemporary arts and the Soros foundation.

About the Co-Creation
Barriers: What main barriers may you have encountered to co-create during the creation and implementation of the project and how did you try to overcome them?

In a Latvian context where there is little knowledge of social entrepreneurship, dominated by the "export + maximum profitability" ideology. The first challenge has been to convince that the project is profitable, and generates a good ratio of social return on investment. We have been able to overcome this by lobbying the diverse institutions part of the financing process, in collaboration with NGO organizations and associations. On the legal aspects, the fact there is no legal status for social entrepreneurs combined to the fact it is difficult for an association to invoice a company brought some challenges too.

The other big challenge was to educate the clients to what is design and the expectations of a "design" products to ensure the quality. This has been overcome by common workshops to educate the clients to design. With as a result a quality above the expected standards.

Governance: What is the type of the relationship between the partners? (e.g. joint venture, contractual relationship, joint project...)

We have a contractual relation, where Gaismas Stars produces objects, and JuHu is responsible to bring them to the market. We have applied for grants together. In the contract it is stipulated that the profit gained by G.S. by participating in the project can be used for :
• paying their clients
• paying the educational therapist in charge
• buying the material/tools needed for production (after the first batch of material is finished)
• improving the premises of G.S.
• if there is a wish to use the money otherwise, they shall ask for our approval

Interaction model: How is the project a transformative partnership? How is the interaction transforming the partnering organizations and their employees/ leadership in terms of creating a new vision, new management practices, new skills and new organizational structures? Please provide for concrete examples

Since the economical crisis stroke, institutions in Latvia are experiencing difficulties regarding their funding. This allows both of us to experiment and develop a new model for a public-private partnership which is beneficial for all actors. We aimed to create guidelines leaving as much space for both partners while working in close collaboration.

This experience has lead both partners to gain new skills in sectors that are not mainly theirs.
• A better understanding of design and communication through stories, but also new management techniques for Gaismas Stars.
• A better understanding on the implications and issues faces within social structures, and inspiration regarding the way JuHu is managed, empowering employees and encouraging personal initiatives by allowing time for employees to develop new ideas and projects to support JuHu mission.

How did you find out about this competition?

Through Ashoka facebook page.