December 22, 2020

Exchange Alumna Harnesses Love for Gaming to Achieve a Greener Future

YSEALI Alumna is one of seven winners to receive SDGs and Her Award for her work in Environmental Sustainability in Indonesia.

Annisa Hasanah Arsyad’s interest in environmental education was piqued long before the global pandemic hit. But when millions of business-owners were uprooted from their jobs in Indonesia amidst COVID-19, her passion became even more critical.

Annisa, an alumna of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative Professional Fellows Program (YSEALI PFP), was recently selected as one of seven global winners of the World Bank "Sustainable Development Goals and Her" Award for her work as founder of Ecofun Indonesia, a social enterprise focused on advancing environmental education through interactive play. Out of 2,400 applicants, Annisa is one of two exchange alumnae - along with IVLP and YTILI alumna Melina Taprantzi - and seven women, to be awarded an SDGs and Her Award.

Ecofun aims to equip young people with the knowledge to protect and defend their environment while instilling in them skills in science and communication. Through a series of board games and interactive gaming experiences, children are challenged to think critically about their carbon footprint and how they can live more responsibly in the world. The game itself embodies Ecofun’s mission, as the board game is composed entirely of recycled materials.

The revenue generated from sales of the game goes toward supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs in Indonesia – most recently, those who have been affected by the pandemic. When COVID-19 hit, Ecofun launched a “pay as you wish” campaign, donating profits to support the shipment of food packages to those most in need in their business communities.

Annisa’s success as an entrepreneur can be traced back to her exchange experience in the YSEALI Professional Fellows Program, when she honed in on the intersection between environmental sustainability and entrepreneurship. She told us, “I learned how to work efficiently and to get to know my leadership character and capacity. Joining YSEALI PFP improved my confidence as a social entrepreneur to grow personally and professionally.”

Covering topics like carbon emissions, waste management, flood preparedness, water management, organic farming, and forest fires, Annisa’s game raises awareness about climate action; and it also seeks to address existing barriers in the educational space. As remote learning has remained out of reach for at least 500 million students worldwide – and these inequalities have only been exacerbated by the onset of COVID-19 – Ecofun works to offer an inclusive, accessible experience for children within their own homes.

“I believe education is a dynamic and engaging process,” says 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 toward habits which protect rather than destroy the environment, in the long-term we will be successful.”

Read more about Annisa’s work and quest to pave a greener future on their website. Congratulations, Annisa!