D:Lab Mobile Summer Projects Update Session

Over the summer break, the D:Lab had several students use design thinking to innovate and co-create with organizations and companies such as Vodafone, Casa Trassaco, Café Kwae, Burro Brand, GN Electronics and our very own university Ashesi. This event was organised to get a sense of progress and the way forward for each of these projects.

Event Details:
What? – D:Lab Mobile Summer Projects Update Session
When? – Wednesday 12th October 2016
Time? – 2:40 – 4:10pm
Where? – McNulty Foundation Design Lab, King Engineering Building 102.


Audrey S-Darko, presented on her team’s progress with the Cafe Kwae Use Experience projects and how she looks forward to ending the project with a market strategy proposal that her team will present to the manager of Cafe Kwae. Kelvin Dogbetse detailed his team’s progress on exploring and improving employee productivity of Tradeworks. His team hopes to continue research work, however, the future of this project hinges on their availability outside school work; possibility during school breaks.
Aisha Jallow and Purity Musau, who worked on the Ashesi Fundamentals of Design and Entrepreneurship (FDE) Research project which centred on developing tools (templates etc.) for helping students visualize things in cleaner, more professional and more engaging ways such as developing hieroglyphic-mnemonic devices to help students remember the design thinking process and methods. They presented a few of their findings and how these finding will influence future FDE classes. The D:Lab Coordinators also presented on the state of other projects.


Foundations of Design and Entrepreneurship (FDE) Research- D:Lab Mobile Report

The class of 2019 is the pioneering class for the Foundations of Design and Entrepreneurship course at Ashesi University College. So we have a hands-on experience of the course like no one else. The course has been one of the most challenging courses anyone of us has encountered. Although to some, it was exciting. Our research project focused on a look-back at the entire FDE experience and coming up with ways to make it better. The research process includes personal reflections, interviews of other classmates and the use of ethnographic research tools and analysis frameworks. At the end of the research process, we came up with strategies and suggestions to make it better.

Problem statement
Based on our research, FDE was a major threat to students as it was not only a source of stress but also time consuming. The course which is made to be fun turned out to be an enemy to students. Based on our findings, this was as a result of the work load and poor timing.
Several methods and ideas have been proposed on how to go through the course. This is not only going to save on time taken but a convenient way of selecting FDE ventures for the second semester making it interesting and giving the students a motivation when working on their ventures. The two main methods which were suggested during the venture selection were the course registration method and CATME.

Research Objectives
After brainstorming, we settled on the following objectives
1. To make FDE a course which every student enjoys doing for the two semesters
2. Enable students to apply knowledge gained from FDE in real life and reduce the workload of the course.

Methodology/ Research/Approach
Our research method was a sandwich of both primary and secondary. The reason for this is based on the fact that for some of the pain areas discovered, it was easier to carry out interviews and/or send questionnaires. But for some, drawing insights from the internet was a lot easier and effective. The design thinking approach was used in almost every aspect of the process. The first thing we did was to brainstorm on the whole FDE experience. Secondly, we interviewed some of our colleagues to get a bigger picture. We then categorized our findings into headings indicating major pain points. After generating interview questions out of the pain points and carrying out the interviews, we used analysis frameworks to generate POV’s.

Findings/Analysis and discussion
After thorough research on the problem space, the data was obtained majorly in the form of notes from observational shadowing and depth interviews. The major information obtained was on the pros and cons the students had experienced taking the FDE course. Further, students gave their suggestions on how the negative aspects of the course would be changed for the better. Through card sorting, these were grouped into 8 groups under which similar suggestions fell. These were:

  • Merging or Partnerships of ventures
  • Ashesi venture accelerator’s role in FDE ventures
  • Blogs/Websites for ventures Launching flexibility
  • Choosing teams for FDE ventures
  • Quizzes and Reading Assignments
  • Grading of the Course
  • Transition from a problem space to a business venture.

Through intuition, empathy and our analytical skills, we came up with hypothesis to these statements, and then went ahead to test them. For the most part, we used the idea of depth interviews by giving the research subject different scenarios and seeing how they would react to the different cases. Thereafter, analysis frameworks such as empathy maps, 2 X 2 matrix, journey maps and persona were used to analyze the outcomes of the hypothesis testing.
Solutions to the different problems that made
 The aspect of partnership, FDE ventures should be encouraged to partner amongst themselves to boost the practice of the things learnt in class and other advantages
 With old-fashioned way of choosing ventures was highly disliked by several students. Henceforth we came up with a solution that doodle or the “course registration system” should be used for selecting ventures in the second semester
 CATME should be adopted in the FDE course for an effective evaluation of team members. And for an easier analysis of the students evaluations.
 Furthermore, to improve on the awareness of the different FDE ventures, students should be encouraged to set up blogs, websites and social media. This will help them increase their awareness as a well as customers.
 Quizzes should be reduced and further more readings should be explained before the quiz is taken.
Conclusions and recommendations
This research mainly aimed at making the FDE experience at Ashesi more effective, and not necessarily an easy course. With regards to this, the solutions suggested in this research are made after careful analysis of the research data. The reasons given by the research subjects are highly considered, and not just the mere statement of how the course should be modified. We therefore hope that with the outcome of this undertaking, the course will be more effective.
Suggestions for future research

  • The number of teachers appropriate for a class at a specific semester should be looked into.
  • The relevance of the specific text books for class should be further researched.



  • Purity Musau
  • Jobe Wuyeh
  • Maureen Molly Basemera
  • Margaret Odero

2nd Ashesi D:Lab Mobile Presentations & BBQ


Starting off from Impact Hub Accra, the second stop of the Ashesi D:Lab Mobile was at the McNulty Design Lab, King Engineering Building on the Ashesi University Campus. The event took place on Thursday, Jun 30th 2016 from 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm.

27976287362_431f776daf_kThe D:Lab in partnership with the Ashesi Venture Accelerator (AVA), featured Lysanne
Denneboom, the Managing Director of Fundraising Africa, who gave a presentation about new and innovative ways to raise money online for things people care about. Her presentation explained the essence of crowdfunding and how it can be used to make ideas reality through running successful crowdfunding campaigns.

Student teams presented 5-minute updates on the progress made and challenges they face while working on their respective design thinking projects this summer. Teams also interacted on ways they could improve their design processes for their respective projects28044763046_618c87c23b_k.jpg.

Event Coordinators: Theodore Philip Asare, Carl Agbenyega

Media Production: Cybil Mupazviriwo


1st Ashesi D:Lab Mobile Presentations and BBQ


The Ashesi Design Lab (D:Lab) decided to go “Mobile” this summer with students working on exploratory projects with organizations. Ashesi University College (Ashesi) students are employing design thinking in innovating and co-creating products, systems and services with organizations and companies such as Vodafone, Casa Trassaco, Café Kwae, Burro Brand, GN Electronicsand our very own university Ashesi.

The 1st D:Lab Mobile presentations and BBQ took place at The Impact Hub Accra, Osu on Wednesday 8th June 2016 from 3 – 5pm. Students presented on their projects and got feedback from experts in design thinking: Dela Kumahor, Yaw Dankwa Oseo-Asare and Dr. Gordon Adomdza, on how to shape their projects using the design thinking process. Teams had 5 minutes to present on their projects. The event saw about 40 people attend.

Below are a list of projects students are working on:
  • Business Modelling – This project collaborates with PEN Education from the MIT D-Lab to train science teachers on how to teach and develop business models around hands-on-science.
  • Deep Dives – This project is a social innovation project in collaboration with Burro Brand and students from Brown University, employing ethnographic research methods to discover opportunities for innovation in rural communities.
  • Vodafone Innovations mUtility Applications: This project explores how to collaborate on developing technology to develop business models for utilities.
  • MDF’s EnterWASH project: EnterWASH is looking for young ambitious Ghanaians, interested in using enterprise to solve the water, sanitation and hygiene problems in their communities.
  • Cafe Kwae: Understanding the user experience at coffee shops with the study of the rapidly changing socio-economic profile of people in the developing world.
  • Farming Modelling: Exploring agriculture and using design thinking to model farming practices in response to unique food demands in the Accra urban market.
  • OPV Solar project: This team is using design thinking to explore functional forms for the application of organic photo-voltaic cells in collaboration with Dr. Hanne Lauritzen from the Danish Technical Institute.
  • Tradeworks: This project explores creative ways of optimizing work routines for employees while exposing students to the manufacture of solar panels.
  • Cassa Trassaco User Experience: This project explores a potential collaboration with Cassa Trassaco aimed at studying the in-store customer experience for their luxury brands and how to redesign part of it for better outcomes.
  • SE Ghana: The recently launched Social Enterprise Ghana is exploring a collaboration to build hybrid business models for social enterprises with a focus on sustainability.
  • The Cobalt Partners: Explore a series of paid service and (digital) product design opportunities at this Design and Technology consulting firm. Projects will include but not be limited to research, redesign and development of customer experience processes for key clients in the areas of financial services among others. Students are working with a growing team of designers and technologists, led by Dela A. Kumahor.
  • Ashesi FDE Research project: Developing tools (templates etc.) for helping students visualize things in cleaner, more professional and more engaging ways. e.g. developing hieroglyphic-mnemonic devices to help students remember DT process and methods, led by DK Osseo-Asare.