About Emer

Emer Beamer is founder and Learning Lead at Design-athon Works, Empowering Children to Design a Better World. She is also an Ashoka Fellow and has co-founded both Butterfly Works,  Co-Creation for a Better World and NairoBits, Design College for youth from slum areas, Nairobi, Kenya. She holds a Bachelor in Commerce from University College Dublin (Ireland) and a degree in Design from the Rietveld Academy (Holland).
The connecting principle in her work is empowering learners to learn by becoming the author, creator and maker of their own world.

With Butterfly Works she co-created social change with young people in the Global South.
See http://www.butterflyworks.org
The eLearning programs she co-created, such as ‘the World starts with Me’ (Uganda 2004) and ‘Learning about Living’ (Nigeria 2007) have been adapted for 15 countries in Africa and Asia and won prizes from amongst others the United Nations. 

Her very first social enterprise was NairoBits, http://www.nairobits.com, in 2000, a web design college for young people from the informal settlements around Nairobi. What began as an art project is now a family of schools in 5 African countries with some 10,000 graduates securing jobs in the formal tech sector.


THNK, Amsterdam, 2012-2013
School of Creative Leadership, an international post graduate program in creativity, innovation and leadership.

Tech for Change, Mobile Technology for Development, 2011

University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, 2003-2004
Youth participation in NGO’s

Gerrit Rietveld Art Academy, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1992-1996
Design (graphic / web / interaction)

University College Dublin, Ireland, 1989-1992
Bachelor of Commerce


  • LSX Learning Science Exchange Fellowship, 2022-2024
  • Ashoka Fellowship, for her work with Design-athon Works, 2016
  • Lego Foundation re-imagining learning fellow, 2016-2017
  • NairoBits 1st prize in the category creativity & culture of the UN Sustainable Development Goals Award Africa, 2011.
  • Golden Nica Award, Prix Ars Electronica en de VN Global Summit, New York en Linz, Austria for ‘The World starts with Me’, E-learning platform, 2004
  • World Bank prize, ICT solutions for developing countries, for NairoBits, 2002

“What if we saw children as changemakers, engaged humans, activists, scientists or inventors, and then helped them to develop their abilities for these roles’

4 thoughts on “About Emer

  1. Hello Emer by saying who are beginning with design should keep things concrete what do you mean? Could you please give an example.
    I am Nomvuyiso Stofile from South Africa in a village called Mzintshane. I am assisting rural learners what are just behind in technology by virtue of being rural learners from needy homes. I am a pensioner please assist me to assist these learners.

  2. Hallo Suzana, for children who are just beginning with design it is good to keep things concrete, ‘relational design’ is quite abstract but I think Experience design is something they can relate to very well. It depends how you offer it and how you find a way to relate it to their current knowledge. Hope that helps, Emer

  3. Dear Emer,
    Bout your post: “Why you SHOULD use Design thinking approaches in education!” – I would like to know if, in your opinion we could also include: Experience Design and Relational Design (Blauvelt)* into the list you suggest, about terms with similar processes?
    Thank you very much.

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