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‘Un Techo Para Chile’ is finalist for the World Design Impact Prize

‘Un Techo Para Chile’ is finalist for the World Design Impact Prize

When design brilliance comes together with social responsibility, great things can happen – and the lives of the poor or disadvantaged can get just that little bit easier.

This is the ethos behind the new World Design Impact Prize, created by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID) to honor projects that use industrial design to make a positive impact on our social, economic, cultural, or environmental quality of life.

And in the results announced on Feb. 2, a charitable innovation group from Chile placed in the top seven finalists – the only Latin American entry to do so.

The Innovation Center of Un Techo Para Chile is a self-defined “social innovation laboratory” which develops products that aim to improve the lives of people living in extreme poverty. It forms part of the charity Un Techo Para Chile, which in turn is part of the multinational network of charities Un Techo Para Mi País (A Roof For My Country).

The center’s unique approach views disadvantaged people as consumers in a niche market, and works to pinpoint their specific needs. It then challenges students, community citizens, companies and technology centers to develop products and services to donate or loan to these vulnerable sectors.

“We focus on generating an impact at the base of the social pyramid – the four billion people who earn less than US$4 per day,” said Julián Ugarte, director of the center.

The Chilean nonprofit was selected as a finalist from the 22 nominations and was beaten to the prize by eventual winner Community Cooker, a sustainable community kitchen in Kenya.

“Although we didn’t win, it’s an honor to be a finalist in this important global accolade,” said Ugarte. “And it gives us a tremendous responsibility to keep working towards a more equal society.”

This was exactly the ICSID’s aim in creating the awards. “With this prize, we hope to attract investors so that the projects can grow,” said ICSID president Soon-in Lee.

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