AGENDA28, NEW YORK CITY NY AND MEXICO CITY
Agenda28 is a design studio specializing in social impact. Founded by Valerie Kramis and Susana Arellano at the Harvard Innovation Lab, Agenda28’s mission is to leverage the power of design to create social, environmental and economic change. Employing a combination of social innovation methodologies, they develop design strategies based on the needs, behaviors, and attitudes of the people they serve. Recognizing the importance of empowering others to use design as a tool for change, Agenda28 is deeply committed to developing young talent. They created the Impact Design Challenge, a free program for students from diverse backgrounds to ideate solutions to problems in their communities and around the world. Agenda28 provides the winning team with product design and guidance to prototype and implement the solutions they envisioned.
HOW AND WHY DID YOU BECOME INVOLVED WITH SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE AND/OR SUSTAINABLE PROJECTS, CLIENTS AND CAUSES?
We met in high school and started to plan a social venture that would address the high level of poverty in their home country of Mexico. At the time, the project seemed too ambitious. Ten years of experience and successes later, we became aware of the need to introduce design to social enterprises and non-profits so they could compete with corporations, improve operability, better address the needs of their stakeholders and further their missions. In 2015 we launched Agenda28 and, since then, have worked on projects that range from designing a product to reduce maternal and infant mortality in South Asia to a Google Chrome Extension that makes it easy for consumers to support mission-driven businesses in the USA.
ARE THERE SPECIAL CHALLENGES OR OPPORTUNITIES IN PURSUING THESE GOALS IN 2017?
Working with non-profits and social enterprises presents numerous challenges, but we consider them opportunities. Two of the most common ones are the lack of understanding about the added value of design and the shortage of resources, but these “limitations” have allowed us to create new methodologies and creative solutions that can work as precedent to make design accessible to social initiatives. Furthermore, during 2017 we have encountered a political climate that has created a lot of unexpected challenges especially for those who are most vulnerable. However, this has also created a sense of solidarity among those working in the social impact sector, which is extremely valuable to achieve systemic change.