The Working Differently Challenge

Local Solutions to Local Humanitarian Problems

We live in challenging times. The usual way of doing things may not work, leaving humanitarian teams on the front line to improvise or find workarounds to support communities more effectively. What if these informal on-ground solutions could be developed, systematised, and shared so that they become the new way of working? That's why we launched a search for teams who are creating solutions that address problems or challenges within humanitarian agencies or local communities.

About the Working Differently Challenge

In 2020 we ran the Working Differently Challenge. Members, hubs, and their partners were invited to submit their innovative solutions that address problems within humanitarian agencies or local communities more widely. After receiving several submissions, which were judged by a panel of experts, three winners were announced at Start Network’s first virtual Assembly and 10-year anniversary celebration. The winning teams were from Cadena, Islamic Relief, and Tearfund.





In Mexico, CADENA is launching the next phase of its successful KOL platform—a low-cost WhatsApp and call centre-based IT solution to respond to COVID-19 by helping vulnerable people to access: 1) medical orientation 2) psychological support and orientation 3) spiritual orientation and 4) General information and referral to national institutions or other NGOs. The platform also aims to be gender-sensitive, inclusive, and accessible for people with disabilities, older people and indigenous communities. In the next phase, CADENA will focus on supporting social organisations and on further developing the platform’s sustainability.



In the Philippines, Islamic Relief will look at how to strengthen Barangay local government units’ resilience and capacity in the response and recovery from COVID-19. In doing so, the programme will test the use of design thinking methodologies at local government and community level to look at the critical elements of governance, behaviour change and communication, and service delivery to mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic.



Tearfund will work toward creating a new Community Inclusion Currency (CiC) in Amara, Ethiopia, which will mitigate the negative effects that COVID-19 has had on Self-Help Groups (SHG), local economy, liquidity and livelihoods. The CiC will inject liquidity and stimulate work, production, sales and income within local economy. Tearfund aims to further define this idea and produce evidence on the extent to which CiC can be effective in increasing resilience of SHG and local economy.


The three teams will now receive 2-3 months of tailored technical support from Thoughtworks, which is a global leader in corporate, public sector, and humanitarian innovation, to implement their solution on a wider scale. They will also receive up to £15K of funding, supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.



We acknowledge the contribution of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs in supporting this opportunity.


Learn more about Collective Innovation.