Young entrepreneur Hasna Silmi Ramadhani has found early success to combine cutting-edge technology with biodiversity awareness, but her first foray in social enterprise was nowhere near biodiversity: waste management education.
Her story gives a real-life example on how we should be open for any changes to achieve success.
24-years old Hasna was one of the top winners of the UNDP’s Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) Bio-Hackathon event which brought together individuals from various sectors, such as technology, design, business and journalism, to raise awareness and explore solutions to the most challenging issues for biodiversity
While studying Biology at the University of Padjajaran, Hasna came up with her first entrepreneurial initiative, Sakola Arbor – an institution dedicated to teaching youth about the value of caring the environment. She was moved after seeing many kids were not taught to care about their own trash and its effects on the environment.
Two years later, Hasna founded the Ranggon Environmental Education Center (REEC), which provides thematic camp trips to several parks in West Java. Similar to Sakola Arbor, Ranggon also works together with schools to provide waste management education for students. “Working close with nature is always been my passion and sharing it with others makes it even more meaningful, there is a lot of knowledge we can learn from just being there, close to nature,” she said.
Last March, Hasna participated in the hackathon which connects bio-economy initiatives with impact investors and industry players. The BIOFIN project itself is a global initiative which provides countries with method and tools to develop investment and finance plans for the biodiversity-focused Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Together with her colleagues from Ranggon, Hasna proposed the use of augmented reality (AR) technology for raising awareness of the biodiversity value. The product, named Biomaze, challenges students to play and complete a puzzle about biodiversity. Through the use of AR, students can learn about Indonesia’s biodiversity anytime and anywhere.
“Technology is a tool that should be seen as an opportunity to solve some of today’s issues rather than create problems” says Hasna.
Through a use of a gamification, similar to a mobile game, players can earn points as they play which can be redeemed for Ranggon’s trips discounts or to be donated for the management of the parks. Using something that is familiar and what kids enjoy, excites them to learn about the value of biodiversity as they play.
Hasna’s team of three people was the 1st winner out of 25 finalists, which were selected from a pool of more than 100 registrants. One week prior to the event, the finalists were paired with mentors to prepare for the 24 hours prototyping marathon. The top three winners were awarded a total of US$ 2000 worth of prize to be used for developing the project.
Being the only female in her team has also given her extra pride "It was an honour and we didn’t expect to win, it was my first hackathon and only four to five women were there" says Hasna excitedly.
She plans to use the prize money to boost the development of her business, she says.
When asked about her takeaway from the event, she said that it gave her the motivation to continue her mission with Ranggon. She felt that the finalists are very supportive of each other, regardless of their background and project.
“No matter how crazy your ideas are, there are people out there that share your vision and would willing to help and support you”. “You just have to keep learn and work for it, whoever it is, limitation only comes from the minds,” she says.