Archive for the ‘BoP’ Category

Design for Social Wellbeing/BoP design

October 4, 2009

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Edan Weis is working on  his PhD research project; Design for Social Wellbeing: A Case Study of Normative Design Thinking, see the work in progress here.

“This research is a comparative study of the design process accross several organizations designing for/with the poor, specifically the early concept/ideation stages of product development. I’m interested in the way designer’s “frame” their problems according to their individual perspectives, and how this affects their design process. In “social design”, perspectives are often as contested as the development theories they are associated with. The aim of study is to devise methods and practical approaches for design focused on alleviating poverty by examining the design process itself, rather than through external discourses of development economics, sociology of technology, or innovation studies. The research assumes that such discourses—while still important in understanding social design practices—exert a greater influence at the practical level of designing than has been previously recognized.”

“This study investigates industrial design practice which aims to contribute to poverty alleviation and economic development in poor nations. The practice of “Design for Social Wellbeing” (DSW) generally operates in four capacities: 1) product/service design consulting for/with local businesses and individuals; 2) commercial product/service development for low-income markets; 3) education for formal/informal manufacturing or crafts sectors; 4) implementing national industrial and economic policy. “

Edan is currently looking for BOP product developers / inventors / design firms interested in participating in a case study for his PhD research project.

Via BOP Source, @bopsource. Image from Edan’s Research Proposal (PDF).

Posted via email from Design in Africa

Recycling in Nairobi

August 3, 2009

Originally from REculture: A post consumption economy

Steve Daniels has a great post at Analogue/Digital about Nairobi’s Industrial Area. “Essential to the Industrial Area’s thriving activity, and indeed a critical differentiator from rural jua kalis, is an equally thriving materials infrastructure. To sustain the manufacturing of so many diverse products, a separate industry has emerged for raw materials, both recycled and new.”
“Working with scrap material presents new design challenges. Flexibility is critical when ideal parts are not always available.”
Have a look at Nairobi Industrial Area: Products for more recycled lamps, boxes and much more.

Images by Steve Daniels.

See and download the full gallery on posterous

Posted via email from REculture: A post consumption economy

Out and about

February 16, 2009

Having fun, dealing with Africa time, good times.

Posted via email from Design in Africa

Nokia Life Tools; Inform, Involve, Empower

November 4, 2008

Latest from Nokia; ‘Inform, Involve, Empower – Nokia’s service mantra for emerging markets with Nokia Life Tools

“Filling in the information gaps in agriculture and education withNokia Life Tools, we strive to contribute towards empowering people with the right tools to help them make informed decisions in their daily lives,” said Jawahar Kanjilal, Global Head of Emerging Market Services, Nokia. “Nokia Life Tools was developed to help bridge the digital divide in the emerging markets.”

What stands out for me is the commitment Nokia is showing towards education; ‘The Education service of Nokia Life Tools aims to give students a decisive advantage by boosting their English language and local, national and international general knowledge. Language lessons, quizzes on English words and phrases, and the general knowledge information were designed – together with EnableM for the pilot – to give students
an edge. In future, the Education service will also come with information on higher education and career guidance and tips, exam preparation, quizzes and access to exam results.’

Nokia also launched their cheapest phone today, the 1202, which should come in at €25. Features include a flashlight, 9 hour talk time and has multiple phone books and time and pre-paid tracker.

Nokia shows how its done once again.


Posted by email from Design in Africa (posterous)

The global recession and foreign aid

October 26, 2008

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So, although Africa looks like it might be okay in the immediate future while the rest of the world collapses, there is a possibility that foreign aid will be affected; ‘there is also a danger that foreign aid might decline. But that’s based on two other events. One is that there’s a major recession in the US and Europe, or in the donor countries. And second, whether the spending allocations that governments make will lead to cutbacks in foreign aid.’ Shanta Devarajan, Chief Economist of the World Bank’s Africa Region, BBC.

Yes, there is a major recession and it look like promises made by the G8 are not on track, according to the DATA report, 2007, (pdf link).

If there is a dramatic decrease in foreign aid in the near future, now is the time to seriously think about alternatives. As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention.

Posted by email from Design in Africa (posterous)

Innovation in Africa tips

October 23, 2008

From Ethan Zuckerman‘s post ‘Innovating from constraint‘:

  1. Innovation (often) comes from constraint (If you’ve got very few resources, you’re forced to be very creative in using and reusing them.)
  2. Don’t fight culture (If people cook by stirring their stews, they’re not going to use a solar oven, no matter what you do to market it. Make them a better stove instead.)
  3. Embrace market mechanisms (Giving stuff away rarely works as well as selling it.)
  4. Innovate on existing platforms (We’ve got bicycles and mobile phones in Africa, plus lots of metal to weld. Innovate using that stuff, rather than bringing in completely new tech.)
  5. Problems are not always obvious from afar (You really have to live for a while in a society where no one has currency larger than a $1 bill to understand the importance of money via mobile phones.)
  6. What you have matters more than what you lack (If you’ve got a bicycle, consider what you can build based on that, rather than worrying about not having a car, a truck, a metal shop.)
  7. Infrastructure can beget infrastructure (By building mobile phone infrastructure, we may be building power infrastructure for Africa.)

And Amy Smith on rules for design in the developing world:

  1. Try living for a week on $2 a day.
    That’s what my students and I do when I teach my class about international development. It helps them begin to understand the trade-offs that must be made when you have only very limited resources. More broadly, it was in the Peace Corps in Botswana that I learned to carry water on my head, and noticed how heavy the bucket was; and I learned to pound sorghum in to flour and felt the ache in my back. As a designer, I came to understand the importance of technologies that can transport water or grind grain.
  2. Listen to the right people. Okay, so you probably don’t know what it’s like to carry fifty pounds of firewood on your head. Well, don’t pretend that you do. Talk to someone who has done it. I believe that the key to innovation in international development is truly understanding the problem, and using your imagination is not good enough.
  3. Do the hard work needed to find a simple solution. As Leonardo da Vinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”—and it is the key to this type of design work.
  4. Create “transparent” technologies, ones that are easily understood by the users, and promote local innovation.
  5. Make it inexpensive. My friend Paul Polak has adapted a famous quote to the following: “Affordability isn’t everything, it’s the only thing” and there’s a lot of truth in that. When you are designing for people who are earning just one or two dollars a day, you need to keep things as cheap as you can and then make it even cheaper!
  6. If you want to make something 10 times cheaper, remove 90 percent of the material.
  7. Provide skills, not just finished technologies. The current revolution in design for developing countries is the notion of co-creation, of teaching the skills necessary to create the solution,
    rather than simply providing the solution. By involving the community throughout the design process, you can help equip people to innovate and contribute to the evolution of the product. Furthermore, they acquire the skills needed to create solutions to a much wider variety of problems. They are empowered.

And Paul Polak via Nextbillion;

  1. go to where the action is
  2. talk to the people who have the problem – and LISTEN to what they have to say
  3. learn everything there is to know about the specific context
  4. think and act big – don’t do anything that can’t reach a million people
  5. think like a child – children have no limit to their thinking
  6. see and do the obvious
  7. if somebody already invented it, you don’t have to
  8. design to critical price targets
  9. design for measurable improvement in the lives of more than a million people
  10. work to practical, three-year plans
  11. keep learning from your customers
  12. stay positive – don’t be distracted by what other people think (if there
    were a need for it, the market would have already created it)

So here are my 7 hints/tips/rules;

  1. Understand by observing the environment, infrastructure, culture and lives of people by being there.
  2. Think creatively: start big, use constraints as a filter and find the simplest solutions.
  3. Increase user acceptance; build on existing platforms, lower costs and beware of radically different ways of doing things.
  4. Deliver value; what are the benefits for people using the end product, does it improve a persons life?
  5. Economic sustainability; provide financial motivation for continued growth over time. Empower people by improving their economic or social status.
  6. Share knowledge and skills to continue the innovative process both to and from people and communities.
  7. Peripheral vision; keep a look out for other challenges or new solutions all the time.


Posted by email from Design in Africa (posterous)

Design thinking for innovation

October 23, 2008

I have always been skeptical about using the word innovation, it seems like one of those word that gets used too often, however, it is easier to understand innovation than design.

Lets looks at some words from Wikipedia.

Design;  ‘Design is used both as a noun and a verb. The term is often tied to the various applied arts and engineering (See design disciplines below). As a verb, “to design” refers to the process of originating and developing a plan for a product, structure, system, or component with intention[1]. As a noun, “a design” is used for either the final (solution) plan (e.g. proposal, drawing, model, description) or the result of implementing that plan in the form of the final product of a design process[2]. This classification aside, in its broadest sense no other limitations exist and the final product can be anything from socks and jewellery to graphical user interfaces and charts. Even virtual concepts such as corporate identity and cultural traditions such as celebration of certain holidays[3] are sometimes designed. More recently, processes (in general) have also been treated as products of design, giving new meaning to the term “process design”.’

Which is pretty confusing, then there is design thinking; ‘Design thinking is a process for practical, creative resolution of problems or issues that looks for an improved future result.[1] Unlike analytical thinking, design thinking is a creative process based around the “building up” of ideas. There are no judgments in design thinking. This eliminates the fear of failure and encourages maximum input and participation. Outside the box thinking is encouraged in this process since this can often lead to creative solutions.’


And so we end with innovation; ‘The term innovation means a new way of doing something. It may refer to incremental, radical, and revolutionary changes in thinking, products, processes, or organizations….
The goal of innovation is positive change, to make someone or something better.

So, what is really needed when faced with challenges in Africa, be it education, health, or water is design thinking for innovation, which in plain English means using creative ways to find new solutions which result in positive change.

Posted by email from Design in Africa (posterous)

Nokia-The Way We Live Next 2008

September 26, 2008

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Some interesting presentations from Nokia, particularly ‘Discovering Emerging Markets & ConsumerLandscapes’ from Jan Blom and Jussi Impiö, whose research focuses on India and Africa. Here is an idea of what Nokia Research Africa is doing.

More information at Nokia Conversations.

Posted by email from Design in Africa (posterous)

MMA Architects win Curry Stone Design Prize

September 25, 2008

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The Curry Stone Design Prize has been won by MMA Architects for their low cost housing design which is being built in Freedom Park in Mitchell’s Plain, Cape Town.

The idea behind the design was conceived by Ravi Naidoo during Design Indaba 2007, the 10×10 Housing Project invited leading international and South African architects to submit housing designs for lower income families.

“Lets give dignity and empathy to the poorest of the poor by designinga house that pushes the envelope in terms of ingenuity, creativity and sustainability.” Ravi Naidoo; PingMag 2007.

The design from MMA Architects is a low cost, timber and sandbag infill construction, can be built with little or no electricity and uses unskilled labor from local communities.

Posted by email from Design in Africa (posterous)

Nokia-Calling All Innovators global developer contest

September 24, 2008

Just picked this up from Worldchanging, Nokia has announced Calling All Innovators, a global contest for developers to create mobile applications that will help to better society. This is a great opportunity for people out there to develop their ideas or to start working on a new ideas. The project is endorsed by Dean Kamen.
From the press release;

‘Calling All Innovators challenges mobile application developers worldwide to create applications that will enhance the use of mobile devices in real world scenarios, in one of the three following categories:
ECO-Challenge: Make a difference by submitting an application that will work to minimize mobility’s global environmental impact and develop ways to offer mobile solutions that help consumers make sustainable choices such as reducing their energy consumption or carbon footprint.
Emerging Markets: This category opens up new opportunities for developers to imagine the possibilities of pioneering applications and services impacting the daily lives of millions in developing nations, which could include solutions for education, health data access, infotainment, rural agriculture, or any other application that improves lives in emerging markets.

Technology Showcase: This is an opportunity to create and showcase compelling, experience driven applications, using any technology that runs on Series 40 or S60 devices, such as Flash Lite, Java, Python, or
open source. From a single-purpose application to completely community driven, this developer’s showdown will help open consumers’ minds about what an application can do.’

One area that should show a lot of entries is the Emerging Markets, I hope to see some great ideas concerning mobile education, this is one area I think Nokia can make a huge impact in the future.

More on mobile education soon.


Posted by email from Design in Africa (posterous)


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