Design Thinking involves collaboration and discussion, one thing the D: Lab is passionate about facilitating. With that in mind Wednesday’s D:Lab Fellow’s Workshop invited budding young entrepreneurs (D:Lab Fellows) and members of the Ashesi Community to share ideas using the design thinking process to create innovative solutions to problems encountered by the Fellows. This exciting session saw two fellows initially present their business ideas then sit down with interested members of the community discuss and improve on their business models.
Introducing The Ventures
First up was Nouriture de la Maison headed by Comfort Appiah. Prompted by experiences she had working in her mother’s shop in the market, she saw a previously unidentified need. In the market, healthy food options are extremely limited, the only way market workers can buy food is either by buying food traditionally sold on the roadside or by walking long distances to buy better quality food. Neither of these options are optimal since the closest food is unsanitary and walking long distances would require leaving their stands thereby customer loss. Comfort, therefore used design ethnography to ask market women about their interest in her innovative solution. Her survey was successful as a lot of market women were willing to sign up hearing about her idea, although others being more cautious wanted to see it in operation before patronizing the service. During this session she was looking to improve her business model as well as prevent others from copying her solution.
Secondly was the Farm Modelling Project a which was presented by Nutifafa Amedior, and Yayra Azaglo. This is an experimental learning platform developed by Ashesi Students to engage their peers in studying the supply chain for vegetables and herbs. Their aim to to target the problem of the large number of imported foodstuff by trying to cultivate them locally and share successful practices with the agricultural sector in Ghana. This summer they began replicating a business idea they worked on with Northwestern University which was using vertical farming to increase crop yield on small farms. They are currently implementing this idea but a wooden structure isn’t cost effective so their goal was to find innovative ideas to reduce costs.
Conclusions After The Discussion
The discussion was extremely fruitful and discussion led to a plethora of ideas the fellows could use to develop their idea’s. Highlighted below are some ideas that were developed during this session.
Nouriture de la Maison: The Ashesi Community recommended more extensive design ethnography in order to have more comprehensive data before running the business. Students suggested focusing on a cost analysis, the speed of delivery and deciding the specific customers they wanted to target. They also suggested a more user friendly name which market women would be able to say and connect with to improve branding. Comfort was very excited by this information and this motivated her to pivot and use these new ideas in order to improve her business model.
Farm Modelling Project: The discussion was very fruitful with numerous ideas for a more cost effective plan for vertical farming. One of the ideas that stood out was using rope, supported by bamboo or plastic materials in order to create a working structure. A new innovative design idea also suggested to try a spiral design which would increase in height. Mast support systems to hold the structure in place.
The success of this discussion is exciting and opens avenues for more innovative ideas to better not only Africa but also the world. The D:lab is excited to be a part of this experience and is looking forward to facilitating more discussions like this.