Ashesi D:Lab Maker Skills Sessions

IMG_9426This week’s maker skills session featured Mathew Ndekudugu, a freshman who is on the path to being a great innovator. Mathew and Christian Bagaya are currently working on a product which regulates body temperature Mathew realized that there was a problem of coping with the extreme heat and cold on the African continent. So, he carried out extensive research to find out the current solutions to that problem. He looked to Western countries and Japan, where they had some products in line with what he wanted to do. He saw that they had jackets with fans in them. But those jackets were too bulky, so he and Christian are trying to find some innovative ways of making the product smaller and more affordable.IMG_9434

His prototype, which consisted of them using ice cubes and a fan to generate cool air and allow it to circulate, was not available but he gave a vivid description of it. He was asked a lot of questions by the audience, about his customer research, other technologies and the practical application of the product. He said they spoke with people who were enthusiastic about the product, but decided to start testing it out in Ghana first, before rolling into other African countries. He was also advised to look into the technology used in heating blankets and its possible application in the product.

Mathew has come up with a great idea and a great product, so join us next Friday, 6th October, as we help him build a prototype for it . This has been another maker skills session brought to you by the Design lab.



Ashesi D:Lab Maker Skills Sessions (Part 2)

Students joined the Ashesi D:Lab on Friday the 6th of October 2017 at the engineering workshop for the Maker skills session. We joined Matthew and his partner Christian as they showed us what they envisioned their product to be.

37521667822_1ab4b12e4b_oThe lab assistant, Nicholas, first took us through some safety tips to adhere to whiles using the workshop. He stressed the importance of being aware of your surroundings at all times. He also spoke about the protective clothing it was advisable to wear at all times in the workshop, gloves when working with some cutting machines, and the face gear which was advisable to wear at all times. He then demonstrated how some of the machines worked. He was especially excited to show us the C.N.C mills, which are able to accept measurement as data and use those measurement to build a shape from a metal placed in them. He then told us there are more resources available in the workshop to aid students who have projects which required building stuff, so we should make use of them.

37505196366_7a98ee215b_oAfter Nicholas was done, Matthew and Christian displayed the prototype of their product and showed as the general concept of how they wanted it to work. They envisioned the final project as36883740183_41a80d1b34_o being a jacket with an inbuilt temperature regulation system, which circulates hot or cold air, based on the weather. The cold air was going to be produced by hydrogen gels, which is a naturally cool compound whiles the hot air was going to be produced by nichrome wire which had electric current passing through it. They gave a demonstration of how the fans were going to circulate the air, and to be honest it worked really well.


After Matthew and Christian finished with their presentation, Fafa pitched a project he and another team had been working on, in hopes of getting new members on board from among the participants in the maker session. His project was a health kiosk which would have equipment in them for individuals to check their health vitals. Now these have the long term aim of reducing the time which was spent in lines in hospitals, waiting for vitals to be checked.

We wish Matthew and Christian all the best as they begin to design the product, the D:Lab will continue to support them with resources and consulting sessions. Join us next time as we assist another maker realize their vision.

Ashesi D:Lab Fellow’s Workshop

The fellow’s session began with the moderator, Yoofi, warming up the audience with some activities. He then called on the fellows to come introduce themselves and their projects.

Meet the fellows:

IMG_9566Matthew Ndekudugu: Matthew is a freshman who is constantly trying to use technology to push the boundaries of innovation. He is currently working on building the first mobile barbering van in Ghana.

IMG_9567Samuel Owusu-Acheaw: Another exciting freshman with a keen interest in diplomacy and motivational speaking, Samuel wants to help make people aware of their unique potentials and to use them to the fullest. He realizes that most people have very low self-esteem and high inferiority complex and wants to solve this problem.

IMG_9559Pearl Abbam : Pearl is a junior here at Ashesi who is interested in community building. She is currently running a community library which provides children in her community access to books and study resources. She is looking to improve the value the library renders the community as well as its impact.

IMG_9564Rosemary Anku: Rosemary is a sophomore here at Ashesi who is passionate about improving the health of children. She is currently working to start a project, the”PaediCare Africa Project” which aims at providing avenues for vulnerable children in society to have access to quality healthcare.

IMG_9561Theresa Sarudzai: Theresa is an engineering sophomore, who has a project which centres around children. She makes toys from recyclable materials  which children can play with. She has previously produced some for the KayaChild Care Organization, which brought a lot of smiles to the children.  She would like to find more innovative ways to build toys to bring smiles to even more children.

IMG_9568Owusu-Banahene Osei: Osei is a freshman who is interested in improving the agricultural sector. He is taking advantage of the vast opportunity the modern world is providing and is currently working on a way to bridge the gap between peasant farming and industrialized agriculture. His aim is to build a more efficient African agricultural society.

The introductions ended and the audience broke up into groups to help the fellows bring up ideas to push their projects forward.

After the program, the fellows came to present the various ideas they had come up with in the group sessions with the audience.

Samuel Owusu-Acheaw: They built an empathy map which drew out what ordinary people in Africa thought about the West and what they believed they could enjoy there. But we have a lot so we can just build what we sought in the West, right here on the continent.

Matthew Ndekudugu: They worked on the BMC and saw that they had a lot of value to provide the consumer, which translates into revenue for expansion.

Pearl Abbam: They drew up the service blueprint canvass. They have an online base to store feedback from students or kids. They also provide lending services.

Rosemary Anku: They came up with health campaigns, health forums and health insurance. But they are going to narrow it down after more research

Theresa Sarudzai: Came up with a P.O.V which specifically stated the problem as low income parents need a way to keep their kids busy while they work, so they need low cost toys for them. This POV will work as a direction for future designs.

Owusu-Banahene Osei: They drew up a two by two matrix which mapped out how resources which are not available to peasant farmers more readily available to them.

After the presentations, which showcased some top notch design thinking and innovation, we had a talk from the D:Lab facilitator, Dr. Gordon Adomdza. He thanked the participants for showing up and bringing up such innovative ideas. He reiterated that the D:Lab fellows was designed to be a workshop for students who had ideas, but could not find the spark to make it work.IMG_9695


Design Lab Content series: Using Youtube to Posts to Motivate Good Presentations.

This week’s D-Lab content series featured Two amazing personalities who each spoke about their experience doing a social media presentation, on YouTube to be precise. They were Yoofi and Gumiso.


He came by the content series IMG_9170to give us some tips on how to be good presenters, especially on social media. He first began by stressing the importance of preparation for your presentation. Since he gave a live presentation he realized that he could not leave room for errors, so he took his research seriously. He also highlighted the importance of using slides in a live YouTube presentation, to which a participant, Fafa, asked whether it would not have been more engaging to use a board and marker. He replied by saying a board and marker is good for in-class presentations, but it was not recommended for a video presentation because it may not be visible in the video. He was also asked about the selection process to which he replied that since they were the pioneering group, they were just selected in class, but subsequent ones were more open.

One takeaway from Yoofi’s talk was that social media presentations were an excellent way to grow one’s social media presence, it could be added to your profile on LinkedIn, increasing one’s chances at building connections.



Gumiso spoke about her experience presenting in a YouTube video. She had a wonderfulIMG_9192 time doing her presentation. Her interest in presenting came up during her time as a participant in the D-Lab Content Series. She watched the design lab fellows come and present week after week and that inspired her to try it out. She presented on the concept of card sorting.

She took her experience from in-class activities and previous content series to aid her in the presentation. She was asked how one could also be chosen to present and she replied saying “You just have to show interest and be enthusiastic in your participation in D-Lab events”.


Gumiso and Yoofi showed us that anyone could be a good presenter as long as they had the interest and the confidence. This has been another content series  brought to you by the Design Lab.


D:Fellows Workshop: Farm Modelling and Nouriture de la Maison

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 IMG_8773budding 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

IMG_8768First 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 IMG_8842used 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, IMG_8781and 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 IMG_8840ethnography 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.

IMG_8824Farm 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 IMG_8810experience and is looking forward to facilitating more discussions like this.

Using Design Thinking To Pursue Your Passion: Jobe Wuyeh

The D:Lab Content series kicked of the semestIMG_8731er 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.

IMG_8730He 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 2017-09-20 (7)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 2017-09-20 (8)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. Sh2017-09-20 (5)e 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.

D:Lab Series- TransferWise

The D:Lab kicked off the 2017-2018 academic year by hosting an innovative and informative talk by Laur Läänemets of TransferWise. TransferWise is a unicorn organization which embodies designCapture

They have achieved massive success in six years, growing from a startup with 2 founders to an organization with 700 employees as well attracting huge investors eg. Richard Branson. This  gave them practical knowledge on How to build a product that customers like, which they were able to share with Ashesi students.


Laur Läänemets, a product lead at Transferwise, inspired students to implement design thinking in their projects even whilst at school.  Their efforts and achievement in keeping their charges lower than the banks for transfers are commendable. They have attracted customers and motivated students to think critically on how to improve current systems. Transferwise is also committed to ethical leadership by maintaining transparency throughout the company, showing students practical implementation of ethics being taught at Ashesi.


Finally the company provided opportunities for students of Ashesi expanding their diverse organization with over 50 countries represented. It was a pleasure to host Laur Läänemets and to hear his invaluable insight into how to build a customer centered brand and we are excited about the promising start to the D:Lab  programs.