What happens when living spaces encourage wellbeing?

During World Refugee Day, it is important to recognize how protecting human rights extends to cultivating living environments that encourage wellbeing, a sense of security and opportunities for expanding livelihoods. Despite the obstacles to improving living conditions amidst widespread social crises, there are initiatives working to improve living spaces within communities and encourage secure futures in new environments.
Daniel Kerber during his participation in the Dela Summit
Source: Daniel Kerber during his participation in the Dela Summit

Prime examples of social innovators facilitating such improvements are Nani Zulminarni and Daniel Kerber. They are both social entrepreneurs and Ashoka Fellows who received a grant after participating in the Dela programme to support their initiatives to thrive in creating large-scale systemic change.  

Through the global Dela programme, selected experts from the global social innovation and corporate sector assist social entrepreneurs by providing strategic support that can magnify the entrepreneurs’ innovative solutions. Such collaborations help create livelihoods, minimizing marginalization and vulnerability. By participating in a co-creative knowledge exchange, participants work to inspire each other and receive the guidance and support needed to propel their initiatives forward. Below, we share how Daniel Kerber and Nani Zulminarni achieved tangible results and positive shifts through the programme’s support of their initiatives. 

Creating safe living spaces, improving livelihoods

Daniel Kerber

Ashoka Fellow since Dec 2016

Social entrepreneur and founder of More Than Shelters (MTS), Daniel Kerber works to create living spaces for refugees and displaced people, including support for securing livelihoods. More Than Shelters offers the space for community building, ideas exchange, and initiatives incubation. For instance, the incubation plan teaching and events that offer intercultural support, strengthen the participants’ initiatives and capability to collectively realize their ideas as a team. 

Through the Dela grant, Daniel’s organization has created tangible impact and supported the wellbeing of persons with a refugee status:


“The Dela grant seed-funding was provided for the Integration Hub in Berlin-Charlottenburg. The plan includes a whole city block with 8 buildings to be transformed into an Integration Campus according to the Integration Hub concept.”, shares Kerber.  

The existing integration hubs in Berlin, Stuttgart and Munich have created a positive impact on three municipalities and 12 neighborhoods with approximately 3800 refugees being reached. A key focus of the project is that everyone involved in the local system is included in the implementation process.  

Daniel Kerber during his participation in the Dela Summit
Daniel Kerber during his participation in the Dela Summit

Capturing impact to guide municipalities

The Hub Team in Berlin is working on a much larger scale. In total, the project has impacted  4500 people and has created a foundation for guidance on the Integration Hub concept. Presentations along with a project manual are used to help guide other municipalities, organizations, individuals and governments aiming towards systemic change.   

The visible impact of Daniel’s work with More Than Shelters demonstrates the importance of support for amplifying an initiative's goals, which the Dela grant has helped kick start: “Project Integration Hub is currently financed by the Robert Bosch Foundation, and we are in the final phase for our prototypes in Berlin and Stuttgart. We are working on our scaling strategy and have done scaling into 16 locations in Berlin. The next step will be scaling internationally into Poland and Czech Republic.” 

Identifying local challenges through women’s perspectives 

Social entrepreneur and founder of PEKKA, Nani Zulminarni works to empower women in Indonesia through raising awareness of the patterns of discrimination.

The Dela accelerator supported PEKKA to refine their systems changing strategy, and the Grant contributed to their effort of amplifying women’s voices and leadership while addressing their perspectives on much-needed solutions, in addition to the delivery of essential services. Data collection on women-headed households is the core of the pilot project titled “Community-Based Village Information and Digital Data System” or COVID2S. Conducted in Kubu Raya District, West Kalimantan, the project aims to transform the pre-existing, conservative and centralized data system. 

Overall, there is a lack of data and understanding about actual conditions on the ground within communities. Nani’s project addresses this gap by understanding main challenges through the lens of women’s perspectives. For example, women-headed households often face more obstacles and higher poverty due to the discrimination imprinted within existing social structures. The project measures and records these existing problems by developing tools and questionnaires to identify such strategic challenges – amplifying the voices of women whose lived experiences capture the realities of their communities.  

Nani Zulminarni during her participation in the Dela Summit
Nani Zulminarni during her participation in the Dela Summit

Data collection to capture lived experience and inform village planning 

Data collection within the community is important for understanding how the women themselves view key challenges and areas for improvement within their villages. In this way, the project receives support from local government and village field workers by integrating village-level data as providing key indicators of the project’s success.  

The role of data collection will help PEKKA and marginalized groups advocate for public service access and other needed resources. For example, the village head of Sungai Deras has utilized the collected data for creating a collection of women-headed households who are eligible to receive toilets and other services to be constructed within villages lacking such services. The data collection has also helped to demonstrate findings in Sungai Ambangah revealing that many young women in the village remain illiterate. 

Utilizing this data, village planning aims to support facilities for computers, internet connection, and GPS. There are currently 3 pilot villages participating in implementing these improvements. 

  • Both Daniel Kerber and Nani Zulminarni are creating opportunities to support wellbeing through directly supporting living spaces. Living environments are critical for determining individuals’ health and wellbeing.
  • Thanks to the Dela grant support, their initiatives are continuing to create positive examples of how to apply tools and needed resources towards enhancing living spaces. 

Interested in knowing more about the Dela programme? Click here