Support, encourage, and inspire: The Pinnovation Academy’s mentoring experience
Be a Pinnovator now!
Pinnovation Academy made this call with the commitment to provide the needed support and encouragement for the Filipino Innovators (Pinnovators). This commitment materialized through the series of mentoring sessions conducted in the entire country led by the three innovation hubs – the Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao Hubs. Each hub is composed of an Area Coordinator, Project Staff and Innovation Specialist. The mentoring sessions started in July up to the early part of September 2021.
Simultaneous mentoring sessions were conducted on a daily basis, and in between major activities. In a day, 1-3 mentoring sessions were organized by each hub, with each Pinnovator attending a total of 2-3 mentoring sessions. The sessions aimed at helping the Pinnovators ideate, develop and enhance their local innovative solutions.
“Mentoring sessions are necessary and relevant even before the submission of project proposals. The sessions provided spaces for innovators to be involved in the formation and strengthening of the innovation hubs. The sessions were instrumental in providing support to the innovators and in engaging them to the wider conversation towards community-led innovation and localization of DRR and humanitarian action.”
- Eena Geslaine Barrun
Luzon Innovation Specialist
Mentoring sessions kicked-off through the reiteration of the project’s basic information. First mentoring sessions included inputs on project orientation, innovation basics and the selection criteria. Clarifications were made on who or what organizations are qualified to apply, that the project is not solely intended for livelihood purposes and that all steps and processes should involve the members of the community where the innovation will be tested.
Innovation hubs sincerely felt the genuine concern of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) towards their partner People’s Organizations (POs). They were active in reaching-out to the POs and in guiding them. However, partner CSOs were also reminded to ensure that the POs and communities should have the lead role in decision-making processes, as they are the owners of their local solutions.
The second and third mentoring sessions included the presentation of the problem/solution canvas. Innovation specialists dig deeper to the main DRR problem, existing solution, innovative solution, and concerns for prototyping, testing and sustainability. Here, an in-depth evaluation of the proposals was provided by the innovation specialists who also made recommendations on how the solutions can be responsive, risk-informed and innovative.
In terms of modality, the mentoring sessions heavily relied on the virtual/online platform due to pandemic restrictions. However, the Mindanao hub successfully conducted series of face-to-face mentoring sessions as this modality was also requested by the partner NGOs and communities.
“Despite pandemic limitations, it is preferred to have face-to-face mentoring sessions especially for communities in remote locations and those with connectivity problems. Face-to-face mentoring sessions provided more time for the sharing of context, experiences, dynamics, community characteristics, and capacity development needs. Of course, the welcoming feeling and acceptance of communities and organizations were warmly felt."
- Mayfourth Luneta
Mindanao Innovation Specialist
Actual benefits from the mentoring sessions were felt by the Pinnovators as shared during feed backing sessions. They gained additional knowledge and information, skills in the application of innovation process and insights on how to add creative elements among others. Key messages on community-based DRRM concepts were shared during the mentoring sessions which are also the soul of community led innovation – having the people at the heart of DRRM processes.
Further, innovation as a practice is not new to the communities. What they needed is the systematization of their current practices and going back to the framework that encourages DRR innovations. During consultations and mentoring sessions, there were notable innovative community practices like indigenous food preservation, food bank, e-trikes vehicles for localization, child-centered psychosocial support through urban gardening, reporting mechanisms for child protection, production of slippers from water lilies, utilization of leaf discoloration to detect safe drinking water and grinding of plastic bottles to use in cement hollow blocks.
“One–on-one mentoring sessions provide a more fertile and conducive venue for brainstorming and ideation. I have observed that those who only have very general or barebones proposals for innovations often have eureka moments during these sessions. I believe this is because they are provided with a focused attention on their group’s concerns and contexts. There is also a more relaxed atmosphere, perhaps because they don’t have to compare themselves or compete with other groups, as opposed to learning sessions in bigger zoom calls via the rooms coaching approach.”
- Kareen Kristeen Bughaw
Visayas Innovation Specialist
After the series of mentoring sessions, revised proposals were observed to have substantial community information. Innovations are now more appropriate, relevant and creative. Both the problem and solution are now linked to DRR. There are more sectors and vulnerable groups identified as stakeholders.
These enhanced proposals sprung from the increased in knowledge, boosted confidence and improved attitude of the Pinnovators towards community-led innovation process. With this tangible result, it is certain that the Pinnovation Academy, through the painstaking mentoring sessions, was able to support, encourage and inspire the Filipino innovators.