Launching the Social Innovation Lab to address the challenges of agriculture in Yemen

Launching the Social Innovation Lab to address the challenges of agriculture in Yemen

HSA Group launches Yemen-focused Social Innovation Lab in partnership with ROWAD foundation

03 Mar 2024 - HSA Group’s Economic Development Initiatives (EDI) unit launched its first Social Innovation Lab in partnership with the ROWAD foundation.

The Social Innovation Lab aims to address pressing economic and social challenges in Yemen, beginning with a ‘hackathon’ that will bring together stakeholders from across the private, public and third sectors to seek solutions to harness innovative technologies to deal with pressing agricultural challenges and support local food systems. 

HSA Group launches Yemen-focused Social Innovation Lab in partnership with ROWAD foundation

Food insecurity is one of the most critical issues facing Yemen today, with over 17 million Yemenis considered food insecure – a crisis compounded by 9 years of devastating conflict. While the private sector has played a crucial role in providing access to food in Yemen, importing over 90% of food into the country, interventions to address this issue have historically failed to fully leverage the knowledge of Yemen’s resilient private sector, youthful and educated population as well as Yemen’s broad diaspora of qualified academics and professionals.

There is a clear need for well-facilitated channels to allow local stakeholders in Yemen to come together and develop a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by the Yemeni people, and collectively develop solutions to address them.

HSA Group’s EDI unit is providing technical and financial support to the initiative, and developing partnerships, while the ROWAD Foundation has been working as a local partner, implementing the project on the ground in Yemen.

Preparations for HSA Group’s first Social Innovation Lab will span several steps:

  • Key social and economic sectors in need of improvement in Yemen were identified, with project leaders assigned to determine the scope of the Lab’s interventions and inform process design.
  • Subject-matter experts were engaged to develop reports on the current state of Yemen’s agricultural sector, which determined the relevant key stakeholders, key challenges, and potential areas for collaboration. Experts and stakeholders from the sector were invited to participate in the Lab to drive climate-resilient agriculture.
  • A podcast and series of webinars are being conducted covering the findings of the research, calling upon audiences to share their perspective. Participants from the private sector, Yemeni and international NGOs, universities, and governmental and local authorities, will then be selected and invited to take part in the Lab.

Following these preparations, a ‘hackathon’ comprising of a series of workshops and presentations will be held, where participants alongside subject-matter experts will engage in multi-stakeholder discussions. Teams will be given 72 hours to work on developing prototypes and policy proposals to various sector challenges supported by mentors, stakeholders and experts. The winners of the Lab will then be awarded a grant to further develop their prototypes and verify the impact of their projects.

Nabil Hayel Saeed Anam, Managing Director of HSA Group, Yemen Region, said:

“We are delighted to partner with the ROWAD Foundation to drive forward HSA Group’s first Social Innovation Lab, which aims to find innovative solutions to the critical challenges holding back Yemen’s development.

“We hope that our collective efforts will pave the way for grassroots, locally-led, sustainable social and economic development in Yemen – utilising existing knowledge with Yemen’s civil society and exploring collaborative ways to address the many daily challenges faced by the Yemeni population.”

Yasser Alwan, Co-founder and a Board of Directors Member of ROWAD Foundation, said:

"At ROWAD, we see innovators and entrepreneurs as key drivers of positive change in Yemen. Partnering with HSA Group to launch Yemen’s first Social Innovation Lab allows us to empower local communities and unlock innovative solutions. This collaboration embodies our commitment to fostering a vibrant Yemeni entrepreneurial ecosystem."

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