[design for social impact


Many of us use internet to access current information regarding what to eat, where to go and who to trust, however still 12% of population in current day Turkey has no access to the internet. To increase the internet usage Turkish Telekom has partnered with United Nations Development Program and Habitat Association to bridge this gap. Over 5 years between 2014 and 2019, 50.000 people have benefited from these face to face introduction to internet technologies trainings with over 61% of female trainees. Project team wanted to re-design their response to focus on the gender-gap by offering. The project team was ready to re-launch their face-to-face trainings but at the very beginning of 2020 COVID happened and the whole project seemed to fail by the end of year. As a social designer, project team was approached me to understand what are the stakeholders' needs and use human-centered design approach to design a process to create maximum social impact with their project.

How Might We?

Using a stakeholders map the project team realized a pattern that previous beneficiaries can be classified as two distinct groups. Group A was beneficiaries with little to no knowledge about internet and while the second group Group B was more acquainted with the web 2.0 technologies, including e-commerce, social media and the creator economy.

By conducting series of workshops with the project team and beneficiaries using the human-centered design process we came up with the following challenge how might we re-design the project under the covid 19 circumstances? 

Design Intervention

When a project is under re-design process so much can go wrong. With adequate planing most of the foreseeable risks can be mitigated. However, a global pandemic is not one of them for a national NGO where most of their work heavily relies on face-to-face trainings to work with beneficiaries across the country.

By conducting immersive interviews with the project trainers and listening beneficiaries, an empathy map was produced to see areas of intervention. Design of training setting was easy as most of the medium was turned into virtual communication applications. The hardest part to design was neither the team nor the beneficiaries were quite ready to use virtual tools to follow a trainings. So we replaced the mentoring sessions with a mastermind groups where peer interactions became the central offering. Instead of brining an external expert, the sessions were delivered with a curated peer groups where people from Group B can peer-mentor Group A, with a higher interaction and more humane approach that lowered the technical barriers to follow a virtual mentoring session. Over 5 mentoring sessions were conducted and the project team reached the annual target of reaching 120 women by mentoring while keeping under the project budget and timeline, despite the prolonged lockdowns that equipped women to use e-commerce to sell their handicrafts to create an additional livelihoods.


Peer mentoring and virtual mastermind sessions encouraged attendance and interaction among the participants. Peer-to-peer coaching appeared to be highly impactful as the participants stated that they had learned from each other. When participants share their lessons learned and tips for success, the community help women to expand their skillset and enrich them personally and professionally.

While most women are excluded from professional life, these women participate in the economy and social life through creative entrepreneurship. However, most content can discourage them as they might lack technical skills. However, the project was re-designed by putting stakeholders to the center, the content became easy to consume, and the participants created their community to empower themselves.

From the project management side, this meant spending more time to 1-1 interactions than organizing meetings by mobilizing volunteers to conduct trainings.

Using Format