When COVID-19 hit Indonesia, Annisa Hasanah’s board games company, Ecofun Indonesia, launched a “Pay as you wish” campaign, encouraging buyers to set their own price, then donating profits to help ship food packages to suppliers and those in need in their business community. The company is also doing research to take the games online.
Inequalities in education are expected to widen during the pandemic, with remote learning remaining out of reach for at least 500 million students worldwide. Annisa believes her company’s eight environmentally themed games will give young people an opportunity to improve their knowledge about environmental protection. With 2,500 copies being played in 14 countries and five languages, the games are contributing towards SGD 4 on Quality education.
Annisa’s company is one of seven winners from among 2,400 applicants to the World Bank Group’s annual SDGs&Her competition. In partnership with UNDP, UN Women, and the Wharton School Zicklin Center, the competition supports women entrepreneurs around the world, so that they can thrive in their businesses while helping achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Since COVID-19 hit, the World Bank Group has taken fast action to help strengthen the global pandemic response Projects are deploying $160 billion in financing, with support tailored to the health, economic, and social shocks countries are facing.
Dynamic education leads to change
“I believe education is a dynamic and engaging process. Curricula often focus on theory, but girls and boys need to interact with nature, to know what’s happening in our world,” said Annisa. “Games can connect children with our environment through a fun process, encouraging their imagination, curiosity, and creativity. If we start the conversation, and subconsciously move people towards habits which protect rather than destroy the environment, in the long-term we will be successful,” she said.
Climate change exacerbates the frequency and severity of natural disasters, affecting more than 39 million people in 2018 alone. Covering topics like carbon emissions, waste management, flood preparedness, national parks, water management, organic farming, and forest fires, the games raise awareness about climate action, supporting SDG 13 on Climate Action.
Between 2017 and 2018, Ecofun Indonesia reported a doubling of revenue, reaching 200 communities and taking the games to an estimated 3,500 people in Indonesia, Myanmar, and the Philippines. “I used to love board games as a child, and there are skills and information I learned through that process,” she said. “Using environmental content is a fun way of teaching children something useful about our world, which can help prevent or change destructive habits and behavior.”
Empowering women during the pandemic and beyond
At the same time, Annisa noted that the gaming industry is dominated by men. “It struck me that games are not only for men,” she said. “Gaming can be a powerful tool to educate girls and boys, so I am applying my love of design to harness the emotional power of storytelling through gaming, a fun activity that provides environmentally educative and engaging content.”
With more girls than boys lacking basic literacy skills globally, the games aim to support SDG 5, to Achieve gender equality, improving education for women. They are also proving that women can lead change in the gaming industry. “It’s frustrating that women are judged differently from men,” she said. “People want to know whether you’re married; how your husband has helped you succeed. We want to emphasize that everyone can lead change, and everyone has a role to play in keeping our environment healthy.”
“Environmental issues are not spoken about within families. But our customer surveys reveal that 75% of our players have become more aware about habits and practices that create an impact on the environment after playing the games,” she said. “If we can get families talking about the environment in a fun way, we can lead that change.”
In 2015, all 193 United Nations member countries signed on to 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to "create the future we want in 2030.” SDGs&Her is an online competition for women entrepreneurs to showcase how they are supporting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through business leadership.