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Generate Solutions

Mahali Lab

A community-driven innovation lab in Amman, Jordan

The Mahali Lab fosters community engagement in vulnerable populations in identifying and solving challenges posed by long-term displacement.


The Syrian crisis has been ongoing for over seven years and millions continue to live in a state of long-term displacement. The economic and social consequences have been profound, and will persist for years to come. This has impacted neighborhoods, businesses, and government institutions throughout the region.

While the international community and the government of Jordan have focused significant resources toward this evolving crisis, there is still a huge need for grassroots leadership to develop new, locally-led, and sustainable ways of supporting social protection and integration efforts for the future. Mahali Lab supports Syrian refugees and Jordanian community leaders to imagine and design new solutions for long-term needs. It will make resilience-building efforts more inclusive and help Jordan emerge stronger from absorbing the shocks of massive displacement.

How does it work?

  • Three participatory design challenges: The IRC is launching a series of “design challenges” that engages the public to propose potential solutions to long-term problems faced by vulnerable communities throughout Jordan. The theme of each challenge is determined through consultation with Syrian refugees, leaders within host communities, and community-based organizations. Within each challenge, participants from many backgrounds have the opportunity to share ideas, insights, and solutions.
  • An intensive experience for entrepreneurial teams: A community review board will select a small number of teams to receive specialized support to fully develop their solutions. The IRC provides a co-working space, financial support, and access to mentors and experts, such as analysts and human-centered designers.
  • The IRC will invest in and support the most promising projects: The IRC provides the most promising solutions with funding and support to implement, validate, and plan for scale.

What kind of problems does the Mahali Lab address?

The themes of the design challenges are determined through thorough consultation with affected communities, and will focus on topics where community-driven innovation could have a big impact. Challenges have included: access to sufficient, predictable income, improving access to health services, and education.

Who can participate?

Mahali Lab welcomes any individual, group, or organization based in Jordan, with a strong preference for ideas and actors that are under-represented in the aid sector, including: refugees and vulnerable people living in Jordan, civic and social leaders, community-based organizations, and local entrepreneurs.