GSIF Blog Post #7

  • The Ukweli team needs to validate that modern medical technology is a viable means of detecting and curing disease
  • The Ukweli team needs to assess whether Mother Support Groups are an important stakeholder to market and communicate with about our product
  • The Ukweli team needs to validate whether the Community Health Workers in Sierra Leone can adequately read the instructions for and administer our UTI and Pre-eclampsia test strip
  • The Ukweli team needs to validate that radio, graphic posters and print news are the best means of raising awareness and educating about maternal mortality and our product
  • The Ukweli team needs to validate whether distance to a health clinic plays a role in the likelihood that a woman would visit the clinic (and consequently miss out on time cooking, farming, etc.)
  • The Ukweli team needs to validate that the test strips work accurately under the temperature, climate and precipitation conditions in Sierra Leone
  • The Ukweli team needs to validate which language is most effective for communication purposes by province, gender, job type and familial role
  • The Ukweli team needs to validate the differences in our venture as they relate to seasons
  • The Ukweli team needs to validate our profit level and business sustainability (or lack thereof) after speaking with sources and medical experts on the ground to gauge interest
  • The Ukweli team needs to validate the means of transporting our product from China to the medical clinics in and around Makeni


  • The Ukweli team has hypothesized that the test strips do function optimally in the typical conditions of Sierra Leone
  • The Ukweli team has hypothesized that the most effective “buyer” of our test strips are Peer Supervisors, and not to pharmacies
  • The Ukweli team has hypothesized that the training and certification process is enough to sustain the venture and allow CHWs to adequately screen women for UTIs and pre-eclampsia
  • The Ukweli team has hypothesized that the test strip is affordable for local health clinics
  • The Ukweli team has hypothesized that the terms of the two employment contracts will be obeyed and upheld
  • The Ukweli team has hypothesized that test strips will be accessible for all women and families within the Makeni region at the launch of the venture
  • The Ukweli team has hypothesized that the test strips will be able to be distributed from the port in Freetown to Makeni easily and in a timely manner
  • The Ukweli team has hypothesized that data collection will be challenging…. This is still something we need to work out to ensure our venture is proven successful, which will be hard since we won’t be in country for the entirety of the operation
  • The Ukweli team has hypothesized that the funds we will have set aside for a 12 month venture will be enough to sustain the business for that period of time
  • The Ukweli team has hypothesized that training and re-training will be done and completed thoroughly for the necessary local health officials, including new health officials who may be hired after the venture’s launch date


  1. I think I bring an important sense of reason to my team. I find myself asking critical questions to my teammates when we find ourselves debating difficult and complicated subjects, such as our concept of operations, supply chain and venture sustainability. That’s not to say I’m a “no” man, but I more see my role as one that pushes our team to think of all scenarios and to foresee as many potential roadblocks as possible so that we can prepare in advance, considering that not much can be done in Sierra Leone once we are ready to launch. I try to envision myself “parachuting in” to a team meeting, not knowing what our venture is trying to accomplish nor our means to achieve that goal. Doing this gives me a more unbiased mentality and frees me to ask clarifying questions to topics that I haven’t seen a clear answer to up to that point. This mentality also helps me refine my own ideas and my teammates’ ideas, and narrows them in specificity and grounds them in real, practical issues that could arise in our venture if we do not think critically. Of course, we can only analyze as much as we can about the way our venture will run at this point: we are not currently in Sierra Leone and have not had meaningful personal contact with the stakeholders on the ground, who may share insights that will cause us to shift and adjust and adapt in country.


These traits that I feel I bring to the team have sharpened my perception of my personal strengths, and have shaped the way I see myself when interacting in a group setting. On the contrary, I do not feel that I always am up to date and do the best I can to fully understand others’ roles, and can at times fail to see the interconnection between everyone’s various parts. Especially in Sierra Leone, I feel I sometimes lack the vision to see all of the team’s responsibility weave together seamlessly into one coherent venture that will launch. I sometimes think that depending on who is asked to describe our venture, a different narrative might result based on that person’s ideas, as opposed to one synchronized vision of our venture. I should work toward improving at seeing the bigger picture and seeing how each teammate’s roles functions to advance the venture.


GSIF Blog Post #6

The Ukweli team will require IRB approvals for our research with a Urinary Tract Infection test strip in Sierra Leone. In order to accurately test whether our strips work effectively or not, we will need to engage Community Health Workers to collect data on both how many women come to get tested, what the reading was and the accuracy of that reading. Therefore, our venture will clearly involve human subjects, but because it will involve only minimal risk, it is my understanding that Ukweli will qualify for expedited IRB review. The information collected will not be identifiable, but will involve intervention of some sort.


There will be a few challenges to address as we consider our research design for IRB approval. The first is, as with any research experiment, getting the subjects to partake in the research or, in this case, getting women to the health clinic to get tested. But in our team’s case, a woman deciding to get tested can only be beneficial to her, because getting tested with an Ukweli strip could lead her to acquire the necessary medication upon a positive reading. The second major challenge in our research design is empowering the Community Health Workers to meticulously collect data on the women who get tested, so that the Ukweli team can be assured that the hard numbers collected are accurate and reflect the true conditions on the ground in Sierra Leone. This is key to any adjustments that are necessary to be made on our end in order to ultimately create a better product that is more reliable and that will actually reduce the maternal mortality rate. The Ukweli team will need to create a survey or some other means of data collection that is easily accessible in the Community Health Clinics that both patients and medical staff can complete in order to assess both the quantity of tests being performed and their quality (effectiveness).


I really happen to like the logic model diagram and way of thinking about this project, so I’m happy it is something we discussed in lecture. It has helped me to organize my thinking. Probably the biggest input is just the sheer time and resources available to us as Lehigh students to really invest into solving such a large scale sustainable development challenge like maternal mortality in a country an ocean away. Being in higher education in America and at Lehigh in particular affords students like us both time to think through this complicated matter, since we are not in the workforce and likely are not depended on for income within our families, and the funds to explore, perform research, travel and create and sell a product and market that product.  Another important input is our team’s partnerships with World Hope International and with Wancheng, our OEM company based in China. These partnerships will help us make the last critical jump: from having a product that could reduce mortality to getting this product into the women who need it to actually reduce mortality.


Our desired outputs include hiring staff full time in Sierra Leone to run our venture’s concept of operations  from the time the strips arrive at a port in Freetown to the woman getting screened at a nearby medical facility. An important longer term desired output will be “spreading” the dissemination of the test strips out within Sierra Leone, since we are currently focusing on very specific provinces or districts within the country. But a truly successful operation in Sierra Leone would be country-wide in order to provide equal access to UTI screening and subsequent treatment regardless of location. And a public information campaign would be a third important output of our venture. Education and awareness is often the biggest barrier to developing successful change, and change is exactly what our venture is about in the health field.


Outcome is the clearest part of this venture to me. The goal is to reduce maternal mortality in Sierra Leone by screening for UTIs at a very local level, so that once a woman recognizes her symptoms she is able to retain a higher quality of life. Hopefully along the way opinion and attitudes toward seeking medical help will change with the success of this venture, and increased knowledge and awareness will be a by-product of our efforts.