Scaling Ashesi University Project Report

by – Cybil Tinemiishe Mupazviriwo


The aim of this project was to scale up a non-profit organisation with the case study of Ashesi University. Using Design Thinking methods, this study will prove if Ashesi can thrive in other parts of Africa outside Ghana.


To achieve the aim of this project as outlined in the introduction, a research was conducted to find out people’s thoughts on an institution like Ashesi.

Target Population

The research was conducted in the following African countries; Nigeria,  Uganda and Zimbabwe. African students studying in China and United States of  America were also interviewed.

In the selected population, the target population were mainly students in universities.

Research Methods

  1. Cognitive Walk through
  2. In depth Interviews

Research questions

The research was aimed at finding out what kind of university students preferred in terms of living conditions, curriculum, locations, size and campus life. In the end, these responses were to be compared against the Ashesi standards.

Using a cognitive walkthrough, students were asked to map out how they chose the school they were currently enrolled in, what they considered and what informed their decisions.

In-depth Interviews were also conducted where students interviewed on what they thought was an ideal college in terms of size, curriculum, location, campus life, costs and any other factors they considered.


The following are some of the quotes  that came out in the research

“Breadth in study is  very vital to me “

“ Education offered must meet the needs of the society practically”

“ I chose a place I could grow socially, intellectually and emotionally.”

“ A  good university must be prestigious”

“ I want to learn across all disciplines and be in charge of my college life”

 Results in summary

  • Almost 81% of the interviewees preferred small colleges where they could get enough attention. They also believed smaller institutions were more efficient
  • The majority felt that the liberal Arts system was better during undergraduate studies then specialisation for graduate studies.
  • Some felt that the best colleges were the ones that were specialised eg technical colleges or business colleges.
  • Almost all interviewees wanted to be met half way in the payment of fees through financial aid
  • A wide curriculum where students can choose from came about in almost all of the interviewees’ preferences.
  • Many also felt that study abroad programs, travel opportunities and programs with worldwide connections would make college life more fun.



After sensemaking and visualisation, the data obtained was analysed using a journey map and a persona. The POVs that resulted are


Chingwa, ( a college student), needs an institution where she can pursue neuroscience, music and dance altogether,  where she has a chance to travel, have fun and meet new people so that she can have a successful college life.

Journey Map

A college student needs a prestigious, accessible and reasonably small college with reasonable fees or financial aid and a live campus so that he/she can grow socially, emotionally and intellectually in college.

Mega POV

Students need prestigious and accessible institutions with affordable fees or financial aid and a liberal arts system supporting worldwide programs so that they can have a vibrant college experience.



Ashesi University is a liberal Arts College in Ghana that is small, private and non-profit. It is defined by three pillars which are

  • Scholarship
  • Leadership
  • Citizenship

It is a 4-year undergraduate college with 6 bachelor degree programs since its inception in 2002. It is the first institution to establish an honour system in Africa. It has small class sizes and a small but vibrant campus situated on a hill in Berekuso Accra. Ashesi has many study-abroad partners and also supports worldwide programs such as the Melton fellowships and the Dalai Lama Fellowship.  22% of the students are fully funded while 29 % are partially funded. See also

Ashesi is almost what most students are looking for in many parts of Africa in terms of class size, population, liberal arts system, study abroad, international opportunities and financial aid. Other conditions that might have to improve to make Ashesi the ideal college everyone is looking for are accessibility, (road networks to town as students enjoy hanging out away from school) and broadness in the curriculum. Considering that the college is still new, there is room for a broad curriculum with time but also the population size must be maintained.

Considering all the conditions that Ashesi offers, in comparison to what students really look for in colleges, it is therefore to a greater extent that Ashesi would thrive in the parts of Africa where this research was conducted.





ADEPT Summer 2017 Summary

The ADEPT team, using a human-centred approach, worked on the development of an electronic device that aids in the diagnosis of lower respiratory tract infections in rural health clinics in Ghana through accurately monitoring a patient’s breathing rate. The team went through stages of problem identification, user research, development and discussing potential ways of implementing the product.

The teams worked virtually using social media platforms and collaborative web tools such as Google Drive, RealTime Board and Skype to work from two different locations.

The ADEPT team developed some prototypes which were then taken to potential users at the health facilities in Ghana. From feedback they got from their tests, they were able to gather information on the necessary improvements to the product and how they can scale up and roll it out to the communities in need.


Ashesi D:Lab at the International Conference on Education, Technology and Entrepreneurship (ICETE) 2017

Fellows and coordinators of the D:Lab presented at the International Conference on Education, Technology and Entrepreneurship (ICETE 2017), on the 16th of June 2017, alongside graduate students and faculty from a wide range of schools in the sub-region. The D:Lab team presented on “Exploring Biomimicry as a way of generating viable business ideas”. The team spoke about the importance of gaining inspiration from nature and our environment to generate business ideas that are viable.


Next Steps: The D:Lab will explore ways of implementing the project this summer. A team will be developed to use biomimicry to generate business ideas that are viable.

Presentation Slides:

Design Making as a Platform for Generating Interest and Engagement in Unfamiliar Knowledge Spaces Presentation Slides

Youtube as a Normative Social Influencer Presentation Slides

Exploring Biomimicry as a Way of Generating Viable Business Ideas Slides

And then there was Ba’hari

Ba’hari is starting off with 2 main types of simulations:

  • The communal version (teepee-inspired) and
  • a personalized version called “The ‘Haribarrows” (wheelbarrow-inspired )

It’s been a long way coming in our quest to redefine space and empower people to own their space and express themselves through it. We are, primarily, with the mission of allowing the entire university ecosystem to have students and staff go beyond the clasroom; engaging in mono-functional spaces ( like the dorms and lecture halls, or offices) to engaging with non-mono-functional spaces-*cough * cough Ba’hari- ( spaces that highlight a trans-disciplinary approach, trigger growth and collaboration of ideas from the university ecosystem).

For Ba’hari , we see spaces as not property or belonging only but as an open conduit, avenue for growth and performance, which we as students need

Features of Ba’hari:

  1. Mobility
  2. Portability
  3. Collapsibility
  4. Durability
  5. Relatively Light
  6. Dynamic Aesthetic
  7. Ease and Access
  8. Community

Our goal is to bring in both the main prototype for simulation: personalized Ba’hari (The Haribarrows) and communal version as well. Latest by 1st week in September this will be for simulation and, if need be, for iteration or pivoting.


Some Sketches we had for personalized and communal versions.

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Personalized Version ( The Haribarrows )


Communal. Its #Green. A mixture of greens with the structure


Communal Outlook

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Communal Outlook 2




To test out our assumptions, including the info we gleaned from research and the prototyping session.

Keynote: Ba’hari prototyping has been based on the various brainstorming sessions we had on Ashesi campus as well as periodic briefing of potential Ba’hari customers during the summer vacation

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This was the miniature in terms of appearance and functionality etc.

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Our miniature version of personalised Ba’hari

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Miniature opened



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8pm working on Ba’hari functionality…It worked.Recliners are functional.










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Cram for intended privacy being installed


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We decided on the 2mm diameter galvanised pipe for the first prototype. It made it slightly heavier #wheelbarrow


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Setting up The ‘Haribarrows

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Ba’hari Personalized Version ( #The ‘Haribarrows ) mounting up

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Upholstery will have such touch, but better looking

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Ring bend. After 5 tweaks and venting air . #Kagya


A lot of  rapid iteration, pivoting and value engineering went on and are still going on.

Our insight: Design Making needs consistency, openness to change and tweaks, conflict between functionality and aesthetic (Kevin drew our attention to that) and needless to say a heart that never gives up and Kagya reminds us of our creative juices that we should spurt out uniqueness and quality.

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Audrey measuring dimensions and checking functionality: Asking more whys


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Kagya with his creative insights on Ba’hari miniature. #HeIsSuchaCreative


Next steps:  Upholstery, spraying, and wooden planks, etc as well as aesthetics.

There is another set which will cover the 35 percent work left for the ba’hari prototype to be at least fully useful for simulation and testing.


GN Project – Iteration Report

The electronics team led by Nichola Tali, Engineering Lab Coordinator at Ashesi University College worked on the creating a working prototype for one of the product solutions that were settled on-the vein finder.

The vein finder prototype was done with red LEDs and tested. The team recorded success in seeing veins when a palm is placed over the lights. However, when the arm is moved further over the lights, veins become less and close to unseen. This is attributed to the increased thickness of muscles. For fair/light skinned people, veins were much more easily seen than when the vein finder was used on dark skinned people. Following this

The vein finder prototype was done with red LEDs and tested. The team recorded success in seeing veins when a palm is placed over the lights. However, when the arm is moved further over the lights, veins become less and close to unseen. This is attributed to the increased thickness of muscles. For fair/light skinned people, veins were much more easily seen than when the vein finder was used on dark skinned people. Following this

For fair/light skinned people, veins were much more easily seen than when the vein finder was used on dark skinned people. Following this insight, we changed the light source from red LEDs to infrared light. Infrared light has a greater ability to penetrate the skin and will make viewing veins easier regardless of skin colour. Replacing the red LEDs with infrared LEDs and using a different approach to circuitry, we will explore how efficient we can create a sustainable device.

Product Development with GN Electronics in the Health Sector

Team members

Research Team: Nana Ofori – Atta Asomani, Nene Dornu Abayateye, Stephan Ofosuhene, Nutifafa Amedior, Abigail Twumwaa Ayirebi

Electronics team: Justice Essuman, Kofi Anamoah Mensah, Joshua Kasirye, Victor Hazel.

Project Coordinators: Theodore Philip Asare and Carl Agbenyega



The goal of this project was to do research into the health sector, using design thinking, to find opportunities where GN electronics can introduce products into the Ghanaian market.



The research was done in three phases. The first phase was aimed at identifying 6 opportunity areas where GN electronics could enter the health market with an electronic product. Three of the six areas would be selected after which the second phase of the research would identify 6 possible products, two from each area, that GN Electronics could produce. One of the six would be selected for further research and prototyping.

A stakeholder map was developed to identify the key stakeholders in the health space. General practitioners and patients (the users in the health sector) were identified as the most active stakeholders and were, therefore, the focus of the research. This decision was arrived at because most health problems experienced by patients are sent to general practitioners before referrals are made to specialists if necessary.



stakeholder map

Fig. 1. The stakeholder map




Interviews and questionnaires were used to sample the views of the two major stakeholders. The questionnaires were aimed at getting responses from a large section of the stakeholders in order to estimate the major problems in the space. Interviews were then used on a smaller scale to gain a deeper understanding of the identified problems.

The questionnaires used in the first two phases of the research were designed to illicit responses about problems patients and health practitioners face. The questions were open ended thereby encouraging respondents to give more information. The third phase of research was designed to measure the desirability of the vein finder and the vital kiosk in order to decide on one of the two. The questionnaire for this research contained a list of Microsoft reaction words from which the respondents chose those that best described the products. This was followed by an open ended question on what the design may have failed to capture.



The analysis for all phases of the research was done with card sorting. This applied to the open ended questions which needed to be categorized for further analysis. The same analysis method was also applied to the Microsoft reaction words which was were used in the final phase. The words were categorized into clusters that eased the process of understanding how users perceived the products we presented. For example, it was possible to determine if a respondent thought a product was desirable if the words selected fall under the category “desirable.”



The process of narrowing down on a suitable product was iterative and combined the inputs of the research teams and the major stakeholders of GN Electronics. In the first part of the research, 6 opportunity areas were identified of which GN Electronics chose 3 for further research. One of the major considerations for selecting the opportunity areas was avoiding areas that dealt with emergencies. The reason being that more experience in the health sector would be necessary before working with on technologies for use in life and death situations.

The second phase of the research involved narrowing down on the 3 fields and coming up with two ideas for each field to make a total of 6 ideas. The initial intention at this point was to choose one of the products for further research after which a prototype would be built. However, two of the products were identified to have high potential on the market and were therefore selected for further research and prototyping. The chosen products were the vital kiosk and the vein finder.

The vein finder, as the name suggests, is a device that helps phlebotomists’ locate veins in order to draw blood. This would be applicable in situations where veins are not clearly visible. The vital kiosk, on the other hand, was envisioned as a structure capable of measuring various vital signs, like temperature and heart rate simultaneously. This was meant to speed up the process at the OPD as well as provide a basic means of remote diagnosis for under privileged communities.

After the two products were chosen, members of the electronics club were brought on board to build the first prototypes. After the prototypes were presented to GN Electronics it was decided that the vein finder had more potential on the market considering the data collected from both health practitioners and users. It was evident that the vein finder would solve a basic problem that would improve the experience of patients. Currently, a working prototype of the vein finder has been built by the electronics club in preparation for the final presentation with GN Electronics.



Secondary Research on the application of Blockchain in Agriculture

As a follow-up project from the exploratory workshop on the use of the blockchain technology outside the domain of cryptocurrency, this project focused on the idea of its application in the Ghanaian agriculture sector. During the summer break, secondary research was carried out, with the aim of locating and identifying working instances and potential areas of using blockchain systems in agriculture.

The following mind map lays out the structure of the secondary research conducted:

Blockchain in Agriculture

It was discovered that a few start-ups, (FarmShareFilamentSkuchain Provenance) have started to use Blockchain technology to create systems that document the supply chain progress of farm produce.

Given that our goal was to narrow down on locally-beneficial systems, we narrowed our focus on the application of block chain systems in the tracking/management of the various links in the typical Ghanaian agriculture supply chain.

Blockchain in Agriculture (1)Blockchain in Agriculture (2)

Our next point of call was to identify the stakeholders that determined the nature of the supply chain flow in the local industry.

Blockchain in Agriculture (5)

From an understanding of the players involved, we attempted to create an extensive relationship map/ flowchart of our assumptions of how the supply chain system typically works for farm produce in major communities in ghana.


Next Steps:

  • the assumed supply chain process needs to be validated and tested
  • a problem statement/ challenge needs to be identified and analysed to determine whether block chain solutions is essential or not in improving or developing and advanced supply chain system
  • a system needs to be explored or created which effectively brings an improvement in the flow of information or produce in the supply chain