The PeaceLabs platform was founded in 2015 to launch different types of impact projects related to sustainability, the development of underprivileged communities and the teaching of technology to professionalize young people.
Today, PeaceLabs has evolved quite a bit. So we spoke with Brazilian entrepreneur Paloma Pinheiro to find out more about her passion for impact projects and how her platform’s new features are helping Brazilians contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
How did you get the idea for PeaceLabs?
I have been working on social impact projects for a long time. When I was 15 years old (now I am 25), I started working at the National Health Foundation (FUNASA-Brazil) with indigenous people and that was my first experience with health and education projects. Since then, I have fallen in love with this area and it has made me think even more about sustainability in my community. So in the last 10 years, I have worked on social impact projects and have identified various challenges, especially the low expectation of professionalism in the impact space. I believe that if you’re part of a cause that wants to make the world a better place, you should be recognized for it. But since salaries are so low, you end up losing excellent professionals who could make a big difference in the world. With this idea in mind, I created PeaceLabs to make it easier to bring together social entrepreneurs, engaged volunteers and impact investors, because I believe that co-creating impact projects is much more powerful than co-funding them.
I believe that co-creating impact projects is much more powerful than co-funding them.
How do you encourage the co-creation of impact projects?
We work step by step. We brainstorm and help project creators break down their activities into tasks, together with partners. Registration on the platform is very simple and intuitive. Project creators only need to indicate the problem they want to solve and the name of their project. Then, they can invite friends to participate and define some categories that fit the Sustainable Development Goals. After listing the tasks that need to be done, the project’s author can invite stakeholders to help make it a reality.
Can you describe a project that has positively impacted the environment?
Yes, I am most proud of the community garden project called “We are all smart”. The initial idea came from an architect professor who teaches at the Fanshawe College in Canada. She has been attending the fishing community of Guaraqueçaba in Brazil for years, but she needed help in implementing a project that would assist the community. So it was through PeaceLabs that the project was planned, until we were sure that the idea could really work in Guaraqueçaba.
“We are all smart” was carried out with the help of volunteers from 7 countries who taught children and young people aged 5 to 15 about programming and gardening principles. Their mission was to build something beneficial for the members of their county, since the garden’s produce is destined to feed the community.
I am proud of this community garden project, because it has a lot of support from both volunteers and the community, and it connects the online and offline world. The entire technological infrastructure has been carried out voluntarily by Code for Curitiba hacktivists who have been recognized for their work in developing civic applications for Curitiba, Brazil.
First, participants learn how to develop and install wireless sensors that measure air humidity, soil temperature, luminosity and more. Then later, they are tasked with sharing their knowledge with new colleagues, giving continuity to the development of the garden.
In your opinion, what makes it difficult for professionals to contribute to the SDGs?
Project managers spend too little time and energy aligning expectations with volunteers. Most of the time, these professionals get overwhelmed or frustrated, because they don’t know how to make a significant contribution to the SDGs.
Based on my experience in developing social impact projects, I have learned that people often want to contribute at different levels. For example, the time and skill of a volunteer is the most precious resource a project has. As a project manager, you have to make sure you understand their interests: make it clear to them how they can best contribute and how their work helps to achieve the main goal.
What role does technology play in solving this problem?
By digitalizing social impact projects we can better monitor needs, opportunities and progress in real time. Having all stakeholders align and able to clearly visualize how they can best contribute is key to the success of the project.
To be able to solve the world biggest problems we need to come together. Only by decentralizing, prototyping and developing new bold solutions will we be able to achieve the Global Goals.
What makes PeaceLabs unique in helping to achieve the SDGs?
To be able to solve the world biggest problems we need to come together. Only by decentralizing, prototyping and developing new bold solutions will we be able to achieve the Global Goals. PeaceLabs is the place where you can decentralize every step of your project, get the crowds’ contribution and, at the same time, keep track of the project’s progress.