Challenge to Opportunity: 4 Outcomes from BuildPalestine’s Crowdsolving Seminar at PTUK

Ever had a problem that you were just too stuck on? And then you share it with a few friends, and they figure it out for you? That’s crowdsolving - one problem, multiple minds, multiple innovative solutions.


Crowdsolving is a process in which individuals, crowds, and innovators can come together to find solutions to challenges. Crowdsolving provides a platform for idea-sharing and change opportunities. It also gives innovators an outlet to share solutions, products, and processes to problems and challenges that are affecting people’s daily lives.


On February 4th 2019, BuildPalestine led a seminar in Palestine Technical University - Kadoorie (PTUK) titled “Converting agricultural challenges into economic opportunities.” Students and professors alike provided solutions to the challenges proposed - finding solutions to olive mill wastewater, and to finding an animal friendly and innovative way to deal with wild boars.


Here are 4 outcomes from the seminar:  


ONE: Bridging gaps


An evident gap exists between solution seekers, and innovators and Yomken.com is a response to this gap. Yomken.com is a crowdsolving platform that allows companies, organizations, and SMEs alike to post challenges that they’re facing, and allows crowds of innovators and solution-makers to present solutions to these challenges in exchange for financial rewards. With a platform like Yomken.com, the solution seekers and innovators are easily connected.


The gap between Ramallah and other cities around Palestine must also be addressed. The gap exists because most resources are concentrated in Ramallah, and crowds from other cities don’t have access to them. BuildPalestine hopes that seminars like today’s can be a way to overcome the physical and the more abstract gaps between cities.


TWO: Crowdsolving is “collective brainstorming”


Is there a better metaphor?


One seminar participant, and solution provider, described crowdsolving as a process of collective brainstorming. When each innovator generates an idea or proposes a solution, crowdsolving really does become like a colossal brainstorming session. And a crowdsolving platform like Yomken.com becomes like a pad where sticky notes of ideas are posted.


Crowdsolving is also a system for people with common problems to come together to overcome common challenges. Often times, it is also the people closest to the challenge that the ones who can come up with the most innovative solutions. Or as we say in Arabic: "الحاجة أم الإختراع"


THREE: “Challenges are opportunities”  


Each challenge also brings with it the opportunity to innovate, to get creative, and to come up with solutions.


Still, at times, seeing a challenge as an opportunity can be a challenge of its own...


Not to Raneen Fayyad, however - a recent PTUK graduate. Raneen developed and presented her graduation project as a solution to Olive Mill Wastewater (OMWW) challenge. During discussion, she described OMWW as as “poison of gold” - suggesting that while OMWW has negative effects, there’s potential and opportunity to be realized.


FOUR: Students as crowdsolvers


After several presentations, the seminar concluded with a passionate discussion by PTUK students and professors, as well as the Palestinian Agricultural Development Association (PARC) represented by Dr. Ahed Ghanem. Solutions and counter-solutions were debated, and ideas bounced off members across the room.


At the end of the meeting, Dr. Ahed Ghanem stressed the role of the youth, and students specifically, in crowdsolving. He stated that the reason for holding the seminar at PTUK is because he believes that innovative ideas and solutions lie in the minds of the youth. Students indeed proved able to come up with innovative ideas to address the agricultural challenges presented in Monday’s seminar.


Today’s students are today’s entrepreneurs, and today’s problem solvers.