The D:Lab Content series kicked of the semester with a presentation from our own Jobe Wuyeh ‘19 on the topic “Using Design Thinking To Pursue Your Passion”. Jobe, a senior at Ashesi loves applying design thinking concepts to everyday problems. He has a deep passion for farming and has started to use design thinking methods to solve problems. Jobe, with some of his friends are running a venture, GamFruits, based in his home country.
He comes from Gambia and he told us a little about his time growing up, sharing stories of his childhood and how his family nurtured his love for farming. In his native country, Guinea, he encountered problems, which at the time, he did not know how to resolve. He viewed problems as adversities. He questioned why rice was imported into his country when they had the resources to produce it for themselves. He also wondered why the young people in Guinea mostly shied away from farming and searched for ‘greener’ pastures elsewhere. According to him, all that changed when he came to Ashesi.
At Ashesi, he learned that problems were not adversities as he formerly thought, but rather opportunities for innovation. He embraced the design thinking concept as a tool to solve problems around him. According to him he made the error of trying to fix the problem quickly, but through design thinking workshops and FDE classes he realized that for one to solve a problem, one first has to understand it. He therefore came to the conclusion that “the purpose of design thinking was to generate solutions to stand the test of time”. With that in mind, he decided to work on a solution to the problem in his home country.
After initially thinking that people shied away from farming just because of the meagre income associated with it, Jobe realized that that was not the whole story. Remember, he wanted to create a solution that would stand the test of time. He pivoted and realized that the main problem was farming has been totally ignored in the educational system, and in some cases it is now viewed as something negative because it was used as a form of punishment. Jobe decided to focus on increasing food security, producing and selling healthy foods and making farming lucrative for young people. His solution was a farm which centered around producing food, providing an opportunity to kids in school to have some practicals on the farm and provide a platform for farmers to air their grievances. So, it was after he had gone through the design thinking process before he was able arrive at such a comprehensive solution.
So, he had this cool idea, but what could he do about it? He was fortunate to meet Mrs. Esther Armah, who gave him a piece advice which shaped his solution further. She said if you have something to do, you should ‘do what you can, with what you have, where you are’. This was important to him because his solution was for a problem he wanted to solve in his home country but he didn’t his being in Ghana stop him. He was unable to go to the Gambia to start implementing his solution, without affecting his education. So, he looked inwardly and asked himself, “What can I do now?”. That was when he realized he could build a website, so he built one which served as a platform to recruit members for Gamfruits and to raise funds also. We wish Jobe and his friends well and we hope Gamfruits does very well.
This has been another week of D:Lab content series, hope you enjoyed it. See you again next week.