Our Story

JadedAid was launched in 2015 by Jessica HeinzelmanTeddy Ruge, and Wayan Vota after realizing that existing power structures and humanitarians’ propensity to take themselves too seriously were inhibiting honest dialogue about our industry that could catalyze transformative change for improved results.

All innovators at heart, we used the Kickstarter platform to fund the development of a scalable crowdsourced development tool – JadedAid: A card game to save humanitarians. This cutting-edge game was created specifically for the development community through a rather haphazzard user-centric approach.

The Kickstarter was funded in less than 48 hours
The Kickstarter was funded in less than 48 hours

We launched our Kickstarter in September 2015 and raised $51,000 from 1,625 overly trusting individuals in 30 days. With a fundamental belief that we are stronger together, we also opened up the card creation process to the larger development community with the suggest-a-card function on the website and through eight design parties held with contributors from Beirut to Seattle and Dakar to D.C. Much to our surprise our idea was validated with a flurry of media coverage from reputable outlets such as The Guardian, Foreign Policy, DevEx, HuffPost Live and more. We even had some good feedback from USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures when we applied for funding!

But wait…were you interested in how the original idea came about not just our humble brags? Okay…

It all started at a bar in Washington, DC just down the street from where Wayan Vota works called the Board Room. In addition to libations of all sorts, they have nearly every board and card game you could want to play. One evening after work Wayan discovered Cards Against Humanity as he waited for Jessica Heinzelman to turn up for their occasional happy hour.

When she found him, he was howling with laughter – almost falling off his chair. She knew the game well and had played it first in a basement bar in Kabul, Afghanistan while there on a short-term assignment in 2011. She remembers vividly the levity it brought to the room — specifically around one combination that resonated with the development players. The question card: The US has begun airdropping ___________ to the children of Afghanistan. The winning answer card: Consultants. It resonated.

Wayan couldn’t get enough! One weekend in early Spring 2015, he invited fun and innovative development professional friends over to his boss’s house for a rousing game. It was packed – Teddy Ruge and Jessica were in the group. With more than 15 people, duplicate cards soon started coming up and Wayan, known for thinking outside of the box, began encouraging people to make up their own cards – specifically within a development theme. It was a release! We could address some of the most frustrating and backwards parts of doing development work, but instead of bitching or crying, it was through laughing together. Compared to the general Cards Against Humanity game, the sector specific humor seemed to resonate at a much more personal level taking funny ideas to deeply funny combinations. (Although we still recommending combining JadedAid and CAH for fun that lasts longer than Mugabe’s rule!)
After that afternoon Wayan started to reach out to participants asking them if they’d be interested in making this real. Jessica and Teddy were game (pun intended) and the rest is history.

Today JadedAid incorporates cross-cutting themes ike paternalism, chauvinism, elitism and poop to illuminate the inherent discrimination and dissonance in international development. We hope game play will galvanize peer groups and decision-makers to recognize and discuss the failures of current approaches and create space for more holistic development programming while having a ton of fun!

The best thing about JadedAid is you can feel good playing it and supporting us, a diverse group including an Indonesian-born Mexican, a white woman who doesn’t discriminate against lovers based on race and an honest-to-God African that is counting on the sales from JadedAid to pay the school fees for his entire extended family… well, not really. He wants a new iPhone. Unlocked.