By: Nadine Bibawi, Summer Fellow 2021

Working with Imago this summer as a fellow has been a true privilege. My experience at Imago was quite enriching as the organization firmly believes that grassroots organizations already have the required innovations to achieve the desired impact in their communities. Imago stands in a unique spot in the international development ecosystem as it provides advisory support and services to scale grassroots organizations and social enterprises to broaden their impact. However, Imago’s distinction lies in its centrality on collaboration and co-creation as well as its long-term commitment to work with its clients while leveraging their unique strengths and respecting their culture and context.

The fellowship was remote due to COVID-19, however, since most of the fellows were based in NYC, some of us were able to have some in-person meetings and work on joint projects from campus. Throughout the fellowship, I was engaged in different projects, mainly focusing on strategy. 

The first being working with Patient Care Intervention Center (PCIC), a nonprofit organization that leverages technology and data to reduce health and social costs in the system while improving the quality of life of the population. It has been very exciting to work with PCIC at this time of crucial transition as the organization is going through organizational restructuring to grow its for-profit arm. I was working on a few strategy items within PCIC such as supporting its founder in identifying impact investors and VC funds that are aligned with PCIC’s core work and values. Moreover, I worked on the investment pitch to be able to better articulate PCIC’s collaborative and values-based approach. To complement the effort of the investment pitch, I also worked with the communications team to work on a pitch video to convey a high-level overview of PCIC’s core offerings with snippets of the platform to the investors.

In addition, I was also involved in working on IMAGO’s Scaling Up course which is a hands-on learning experience designed to support grassroots organizations take their existing social innovations to the next level. I worked with IMAGO’s core team and a fellow on redesigning and adapting the course to organizations in Latin America in a virtual setting. Meeting regularly and thinking together through different obstacles and re-iterating taught me the value of collaboration and co-creation to reach a common goal.

As I move closer to my second and last year of graduate school, I will take the culture of open collaboration and co-creation with me: the notion that innovations already exist within grassroots organizations and communities is truly transformative, and that bottom-up solutions that are co-created with and within the communities are essential vehicles to drive socio-economic and environmental impact.

Nadine Bibawi

Columbia University | SIPA

IMAGO Fellow, Summer 2021