This is my Story

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This is my Story

Kono, Serra LeoaCopenhagen, Dinamarca
Budget: 
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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

We offer professional video workshops to voiceless groups of people, learning them how film, tell stories and share their opinion.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Most communities want to engage all their citizens, and have them participating in local democracy processes, but certain groups are often not participating at all. In Sierra Leone women usually don’t speak in public, and in Harlem the teenagers are often not asked for their opinion. Of course that doesn’t mean they don’t have any opinions. This is my story involves the voiceless and create a safe space for them to raise their voice. For example two teen boys in Harlem created a film about their big passion, basketball. When asked why basketball was so important to to the to the community they said, “It’s a way to keep us out of trouble and away from the streets.” The workshop can be part of a a nonprofit project in a developing country or carried out as a CSR-activity for a company.

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

‘This is my Story’ is a new and modern way to improve the self-esteem of the participants and thereby engage people in their local community. We focus on the individual stories and stress the importance of reflecting upon lived experience. Throughout the workshops the participants are forced to reflect upon, and discuss their film idea and thereby think about what’s really important in their lives. When the workshops are over, the focus moves from the process towards the product. Now, it is time to share the films with the world. The first step is to show the films at a premiere screening in the local community. This day is an important day for the newborn filmmakers. Usually, they are shy and afraid to show their work to the public, but when they see and experience the positive reactions from the audience, they become proud and full of self-confidence. After the screening the films are uploaded to You Tube and Vimeo, and submitted to film festivals to reach an international audience.
Sustainability

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

In Denmark there are a few projects working with similar projects. Bongo Docs is probably the most closely related to us. We have set up a network for people in Denmark working with participatory video. Currently, we are 6 members (3 projects). All though, we are competitors we can also help each other because out approaches are slightly different. Also we hope the network will help us becoming recognized as those who know most about this area in DK. It is fairly new in DK and all 3 projects in the network are less than one year old. Insight Share UK and in Witness.org in US. But these organizations focus on advocacy videos, whereas our focus is the personal story and empowerment through that. Also we believe the market is big enough and we will start by focusing on Danish customers.
About You
Organization:
This is my Story
Background Information
First Name

Anni

Last Name

Lyngskaer

The competition is only open to people between 18-34 years-old and resident in UK, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark or the Netherlands. Does this apply to you

Yes.

Country of residence of entrepreneur

Denmark

Tell us about your personal background. Why are you passionate about this issue? Making an idea a reality takes innovation, dedication and strong leadership. Do you have the necessary entrepreneurial skills to realize your vision?

I'll start by telling a short story showing my determination and dedication.
In the summer of 2011, I was hired by the New York based NGO, LitWorld to carry out a participatory video project for a group of teenagers in one of the projects in Harlem, New York. I've developed the content of the workshops myself and this was a unique chance to test the methods and to see if it was actually possible to end up with finished films. It was a valuable learning process to work with marginalized youth in Harlem, and the premier screening at the local community center made me understand how important it is that the participants experience the results and take active part in the project from beginning to end. Seeing the newborn film makers Emily, Yasmine, Shawn, Timmothy and Daija standing on the stage answering questions from the audience made me proud and gave me the confidence that it would also be possible to create a similar film workshop in Sierra Leone. It reminded me of my professor Erica Kohl and what she has taught me in the course 'Community Development' at The New School in New York.
A few weeks later I was situated in a typical dusty African town, Koidu, in the Northeastern part of Sierra Leone, ready to run the participatory video workshop together with my co-worker Trine Berg.

I have a bachelor degree in journalism from The Danish School of Journalism (2008) and I'm currently finishing my thesis about Participatory Video Workshops and in this spring I'll be 'Master of Journalism with a special in International Development and nonprofit management.'

My co-worker Trine Berg earns a bachelor in film studies and is an award winning film maker. Together we make up a perfect match to run This is my Story.

All though, my educational background is relevant for my social business idea, I believe that my experience as a social entrepreneur is at least as important. Three years ago I co-founded Kono Business & Development. A nonprofit that provide jobs for 14 female tailors in Sierra Leone and at the same time offer further education for the tailors. Most of them only have two years of vocational training in tailoring and don't know how to read and write.
Kono is run by dedicated volunteers and all profit from sales in Denmark go back to the project for further investment.
Running this nonprofit has been a learning experience where I've learnt about business, fundraising, and not least creating positive change and impact. I'm still the project manager of Kono Business. Check it out at www.konobusiness.com

When I was back in Sierra Leone a few months ago, I realized how much the women had developed during the 2 years where I haven't had the chance to visit Sierra Leone. When I met them the first time to start Kono Business, they were all shy and didn't say much. Today they are extrovert and say their opinion. And most importantly they take responsible of their own lives. For example, they have hired a local woman to teach them English and math. It is great to see how a group characterized as marginalized by local NGO's now are role models for both their children and women in the community.

I believe I'm in this world to create change. I consider myself as a social entrepreneur and a change maker.

About Your Organization
Organization Name

This is my Story

Organization Country

, Copenhagen

Country where this project is creating social impact

, Kono

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Innovation
The Model: Walk us through a specific example of how your solution makes a difference; include your primary activities

This is my Story is based on old theory about participatory education and ways to empower poor people. With inspiration from Brazilian Education activist, Paolo Freire we have developed the curriculum of the participatory video workshops. This means that the theoretical foundation is solid.

As an example let's take out next customer Valby, which is part of Denmark's capital city, Copenhagen. The local municipality has hired This is my Story to carry out a participatory video workshop in an area with a high rate of crime.
The local politicians have tried to start a dialogue with the youth in Valby. They have done so by inviting them to debates to share their views. But so far with no success. Not a single person showed up and the debates were cancelled.
Valby needs a new approach.
That is why they hired us. They wish to decrease criminal rates and activate and engage the youth in the neighborhood.

In the summer of 2012 we are going to run the workshop in Valby. This basically means we will have 10 workshops each lasting for 3 hours. The participants learn how to use a camera and all end up with a professional product because we - the trainers- both have media and film backgrounds.
At the end of the workshops the films will be shown at a public event in a cinema, and the participants get a chance to talk about their film afterwards at the Q&A session.
After that the films will be submitted to film festivals around the world and uploaded to You Tube.

The process of creating these film are at least as important as the final product. Our teaching filosophy is based on trust and listening to the participants. And we know it works because the workshops have been carried out with success in both Harlem, New York and in Sierra Leone.
One of the female participants, Hawa Gborie from Sierra Leone told us after the workshop, that she had learnt "That women are also important in a community."

Select the stage that best applies to your business

Operating for less than a year

Social Impact
What is the social impact you have had to date and how you measure it?

Through evaluations with participants to secure and evaluate our methods to make the most impact and continously developing our concept. Emily is 18 years old and was one of the workshop participants in Harlem. She lives in an apartment with all of her family placed in the 'projects,' which is a social housing program in New York, that has now developed to ghettos. After school she is hanging out at the local community center. There are a lot of activities and she has tried everything, but has never fulfilled a project. With effort and hard work she managed to create her very own film about her passion: dance.
I'll never forget the smile on Emily's face, on the day of the premiere screening at the community center. She was incredible proud when people asked questions about her film.

What barriers might hinder the success of your business? How do you plan to overcome them?

Setting up a business means that we won't make a lot of money in the beginning. So first of all, we have made a decision to give it a shot for at least the rest of 2012.

When we start contacting new customers we will probably receive 10 nos before we get one yes. We are prepared for that, and have decided that nos will only make us stronger.

We wish to make the video workshops in collaboration with NGO's and non-profit organizations, but these business do not have a lot of money, therefor we also plan to work together with businesses like Ben & Jerrys who wish to use the workshops for employer branding and CSR purposes.

Sustainability
How does your model address financial, social, and environmental sustainability?

We want this project to get really big and achieve the biggest impact possible with this idea, and we are determined to make it happen.
To get there, there are to roads we needs to follow. Both with the same level of importance.

The first road is the quantity of workshops. How do we make more than just 3-4 workshops per year, but still secure the quality of the workshop and of the films. One way we wish to do this, is by "Training of Trainers". Every year Denmark sends out more than 2000 volunteers to thirds world countries around the world. If This is my Story could train their own volunteers to carry out the workshops and lend them the necessary equipment, this will increase the amount of workshops per year.

The other road is the number of people watching the films and also to get the right people to see the films.
One way of getting there is to talk with local NGO's who wish to use the film in their advocacy work. In Sierra Leone two local NGO's asked for the dvd's to do so.
An other way is by the public screenings. The films from Sierra Leone was recently shown in an International Human Rights Film Festival, where the participants came and talked about the process.
My partner and I both have a big network within the danish media and nonprofit sector. Longterm partnerships with news pages will also give the film an after life. We also send the films to documentary film festivals around the world.

Awareness & learning
How do you see social entrepreneurship contributing to the improvement of developing countries?

We believe that entrepreneurship itself is a key factor to create more business and and development in countries in Africa, where most of our experience is from. Social Entrepreneurship makes it even more promising since the social mindset makes sure that the workers, the environment etc are taken better care of and shows that a different mindset than pure capitalism is possible.
In Anni's first social business they are working with 14 tailors in Sierra Leone and their development such as learning to read, write and calculate have been as important as making tons of money. These women are now role models in their local community and inspire others to study and work. They show that there are other possibilities than prostitution, which is the most common work for young women in the Kono-province where the tailor facility is set up.

What aspects of your stay in Uganda as part of the competition do you think you will find most challenging and rewarding?

The stay in Uganda will be a big inspiration for our future work with profit organizations. To see how the plantation is run and meet the farmers who work there. It is companies like Ben & Jerrys that we are going to target in our B2B concept.
We hope to be able to do a sample of our video workshops with some of the farmers or farmer's children. Because of the sort amount of time we can't run a full workshop, but we can test it with the possibility to return if the participants and Ben & Jerry like the idea og giving their local workers a chance to tell their personal story and in that way connect the workers with customers and B&J employers in UK.

This oppurtunity will be our first experience with working with a for profit company and the experience will provide us with valuable and important knowledge on how this B2B conecept can be carried out and will help us to develop the concept further be fore the launching.