Funding & Partnerships

1. Identify two SPECIFIC funding sources for the design phase of your project and two SPECIFIC funding sources for the dissemination (implementation/distribution/commercialization) phase of your project. For each funding source, explain why this is a good fit for your project, and what SPECIFIC aspect of your project might the funding source support.

We have identified several funding sources for the design and dissemination phases of our projects.

Right now, our group is applying to the Phase 1 of the VentureWell E-Team grant ( This grant provides $5,000 in funding as well as training and mentoring during a workshop. This is a great opportunity for our team as it will provide us with non-dilutive funding and give us invaluable knowledge on company building and market analysis. Additionally, we are a great fit for this grant as it is designed for engineering based teams which are creating innovations with social impact. Finally, if we are successful with the phase 1 application, we will become eligible to apply for the phase 2 grant, which will provide us with an additional $20,000 in funding and further mentoring and networking opportunities.

Once we have a working prototype, we will then apply for the DEBUT (Design by Biomedical Undergraduate Teams) grant ( This grant is sponsored by the NIH National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering and VentureWell to provide up to $20,000 in funding for biomedical research projects focused on solving real-world problems in healthcare. This grant requires a working prototype, and is awarded based on the significance of the problem being addressed, and the impact the proposed solution has on end users. This grant would be a great opportunity for our team since it would provide funding towards the optimization and testing of a working test strip prototype. This grant application would be due May 31st, 2020 (and is only for undergraduate teams, so would have to apply after I graduate).

For the dissemination phase of our project, we will first focus on grants which support proof of concept operations. One grant which may be a great fit for this purpose is the USAID Development Innovation Ventures (DIV). This grant focuses on supporting innovative solutions to any global development challenge, and includes three phases. The first phase provides up to $200,000 for proof-of-concept stage projects, and could help support our work piloting the test strip in Sierra Leone. The second phase provides up to $1,500,000 in funding to support testing and positioning for scale, which could support our project as we test new ideas and build evidence on implementation parameters so that we can scale our product to other countries. Finally, the third stage provides up to $5,000,000 for scaling initiatives, and would help support our work as we expand successful solutions into other countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Once we have evidence supporting the utility and impact of our device, we can also target funders of the Free Healthcare Initiative (FHCI). The FHCI in Sierra Leone provides free, basic healthcare services to pregnant women, lactating mothers, and children under 5. This initiative is funded by other governments (especially the UK department of International Development, the UN, and financial NGOs). Therefore, once we prove the impact, cost-effectiveness, and viability of our product, we can target these funders of the FHCI in order to find a sustainable funding source for the commercialization phase of our project.

2. Identify five specific partnerships that you need to forge to advance your project forward with the ultimate goal of positively impacting atleast one million people. Describe exactly how that partnership might help you achieve scale and why that entity might be willing to work with you.

In order to advance our project forward and positively impact at least one million people, our team will have to make many strategic partnerships.

The first partnership we will have to make is a with a manufacturing company to which we can outsource the production of our device. Like the Ukweli team, we will probably need to contact multiple companies and choose the cheapest/best option. Some companies which are known for producing lateral flow devices, and which we may consider, include Abingdon Health, BBI solutions, and Atomo Daignostics.

Another partnership we will have to establish is with the Pharmacy board in Sierra Leone. In order to get device approval for use in Sierra Leone, we will have to work with them. We will have to start working with this partner soon, so that we can make sure that we consider their regulatory requirements in the design process.

A third partnership we will have to establish is with the funders behind the FHCI. Since the funders of the FHCI (including the UK department of International Development, the UN, and financial NGOs) will be responsible for choosing what services and products they pay for, it is essential that we develop good partnerships with them early on so that we can make sure our device meets their specifications.

Additionally, we will need to build partnerships with hospitals in Sierra Leone. Since we will be piloting distribution and implementation parameters there, it is essential that we have close partnerships with healthcare workers and facilities so that we can get feedback on this process and choose the best parameters for scaling up the project.

Finally, we will want to establish partnerships with SCD-focused organizations, such as the Sickle Cell Disease Coalition. The SCDC is composed of public health and research organizations, patient groups, and industry representatives with special interest in sickle cell disease. Their goals include finding stable funding for SCD programs, developing reliable approaches to adult SCD care, and establishing feasible solutions for bringing diagnostic devices and therapies to low-resource setting. Because this coalition has connections with many powerful stakeholders in the SCD community, they will be a great resource for our team. Specifically, in addition to putting us in contact with funding sources, they may be able to help us connect with organizations who focus on the therapy or education side of SCD, so that our device can be implemented as part of a bigger outreach effort.

One Acre Fund

One Acre Fund Business Model:

Value Proposition

One Acre Fund provides value to farmers by allowing them see large improvements in their incomes. This increase in income allows farmers to afford healthy food, attend school more often, and focus on building their futures and communities. Currently, more than 50 million farmers in sub-Saharan Africa go through annual cycles of hunger, resulting in child malnutrition and underperformance in school. However, within one year of joining One Acre Fund, farmers see a 50% average increase in income, allowing them to avoid these cycles of hunger.

Key Activities

In order to deliver this value to its customers, One Acre Fund has an adaptive and comprehensive set of activities.

Their services are adaptive in that they adjust their activities based on the individual country’s needs. Additionally, instead of coming in and teaching farmers how to make money with “cash crops,” they focus on preserving the particular culture of the country and only recommended simple differences which unlock harvest potential.

This increase in harvest potential is accomplished through a comprehensive set of activities. First, One Acre Fund provides flexible-repayment loans in order for farmers to invest in themselves. Second, they provide accessible and reliable deliveries of required materials, including seeds, fertilizers, and non-agricultural products such as lights. Next, they train farmers on sustainable farming practices which align with the current culture, such as introducing intercropping, crop rotation, and planting trees. And finally, they provide market facilitation in order to help farmers time crop sales to maximize profits.

Key Resources

The key resources that the One Acre Fund require include the physical agricultural and non-agricultural products that they provide to the farmers, the indirect products used to provide those materials, and the knowledge that the enterprise brings to the farmers. The physical products which are provided to the farmers include seeds, fertilizer, and non-agricultural products such as solar-powered lights and crop storage bags. The resources needed to provide these products to the farmers include trucks, warehouses, and offices where growth research and distribution plans are optimized. Finally, the intellectual resources include the knowledge provided to the farmers through training which allows them to optimize their productivity.

Distribution Channel

The main customers, the farmers, are primarily reached directly. Specifically, One Acre Fund utilizes a “Farmer’s First” approach, stressing the importance of trucks dropping the supplies off within walking distance from the farmers and training them directly. Other players are reached electronically. For example, potential donors can be reached via the website.

Revenue Stream

The One Acre Fund has two primary sources of revenue. 75% of expenses are funded through farmer loan repayments, meaning that the primary source of revenue is from interest obtained off loans. The remainder of revenue comes from donations.

Customer Segment

The primary customer segment receiving value from these products are the farmers. Although the One Acre Fund began with only 38 farmers in Kenya, it has since grown to serve 809,800 farmers (in 2018) throughout six sub-Saharan African countries including Kenya, Burundi, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Additionally, this business provides value to several other groups. First, the One Acre Fund provides employment opportunities for locals in rural areas, with 95% of their 7,400 full time staff being locals. Furthermore, the One Acre Fun provides value for the respective governments by improving the health of their populations.

Customer Relationship

The most important customers for One Acre Fund are the farmers. With their “Farmers first” philosophy, the company focuses on building a good relationship with their customers by providing reliable deliveries, delivering the products within a walkable distance, and providing a comprehensive group of services including training. Additionally, they provide flexible repayment formats and allow the farmers not to repay if they aren’t happy.

The One Acre Fund also builds relationships with other customer segments, for example with the government by negotiating import permits, and working with them to provide background support for farmer outreach programs.

Key Partners

The One Acre Fund has several key partners from an organizational scale. For example, the organization has several key funding partners including the Global Innovation Fund, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, USAID, and Pershing Square Foundation. These partnerships have included providing funding and working towards specific goals, such as working to improve nutrition.

Additionally, the One Acre Fund has many key partners which vary from country to country. Because the specific products and services vary in each country depending on the local conditions, the suppliers of seeds and other products vary between countries.

Cost Structure

The primary costs of this business include labor, supplies, and distribution. Labor costs include the salaries of local and non-local workers, such as drivers, warehouse managers, trainers, and office workers. Supply costs include the costs of seeds, fertilizers, and non-agricultural products which the One Acre Fund must purchase. And finally, distribution-associated costs include those for vehicles, warehouses, and maintenance. Additionally, costs include covering the small percentage of farmers (1-3%) who are not satisfied and do not repay their loans.


Business Model

Guy Kawasaki Take-Aways

There are many take-aways from Guy Kawasaki’s talk on the “Art of the Start” which our team will integrate into our sickle cell anemia project.

First, I was really inspired by his point to make a mantra instead of a mission statement. I think having a mantra that explains to the employees why they work there is especially important to make sure everyone in the company stays focused on the big goal. As we progress through our project, and employee other individuals, we will definitely incorporate a meaningful and memorable mantra in order to help our employees stay motivated.

Additionally, our project will definitely incorporate Guy Kawasaki’s concept of “weaving a MAT.” By prioritizing milestones, assumptions, and tasks, I think we will all be able to stay focused and motivated on the big goals and how to accomplish them. For example, our group considers our current milestones to be having a fully functioning test strip, proving that our test strip is better than other options on the market, getting our test approved for use, establishing production, distribution, and funding partners, and getting the test strip accessible to individuals in Sierra Leone. In order to accomplish these big goals over the next 5-10 years, our team will also need to write down and test assumptions (such as those seen in last weeks blog), and tasks (such as how we are currently working on small sub-steps of making a functioning test strip).

Next, our project will also incorporate the strategy of thinking differently, instead of just doing things better. Already, with our test strip, we are trying to incorporate different aspects of low-cost devices, instead of simply improving the isoelectric focusing method which is currently used in the US. Additionally, in the future, we will try to incorporate this strategy when we begin organizing production and distribution. For example, instead of relying on slow, traditional distribution methods seen in rural Sierra Leone, we might try partnering with an organization trying new ideas, such as utilizing drones.

In order to accomplish and incorporate all of these goals and strategies, we will also need to follow one of Guy Kawasaki’s most important points: “hire infected people.” Already, I have found that because everyone in our group is really excited by the project, we are getting a lot accomplished and coming up with unique and creative ideas. Having seen how positively working with “infected” people can be on the project, our group will definitely have to continue focusing on this concept in the future as we partner with more individuals and organizations.

Finally, our group will definitely have to incorporate Guy Kawasaki’s 10/20/30 rule. As we try to secure funding and partners, we will have to make sure to impress people with our presentations. Because of this, by limiting our presentations to 10 slides, 20 minutes, and 30 point font, we will be able to ensure that we keep our audience engaged and excited about joining our project.

Business Model Canvas

1. Value Proposition: We deliver value to our customers by allowing healthcare workers to better treat their patients through sickle cell anemia diagnosis. Although at this point we are unsure whether our customers will be healthcare facilities directly or local/global health NGOs, either of these customers would receive value from our product through the health improvements in the patient populations they are trying to serve.

2. Customer Segments: At this point, we are not sure exactly who will be purchasing our product. Although we will primarily be creating value for our patients and healthcare workers by allowing them to receive and give better treatments, we have not determined who will be paying for the devices. Right now, there is a Free Healthcare Initiative (FHCI) in Sierra Leone, which provides free, basic healthcare services to pregnant women, lactating mothers, and children under 5. This initiative is funded by other governments (especially the UK department of International Development), the UN, and financial NGOs. Because of this, if we are able to prove the utility of our product in Sierra Leone, we could hopefully get our product to become a part of this initiative as a free, commonplace screening device among all newborns. If we are able to accomplish this, our direct customers would be those funders of the FHCI, who we would create value for by hopefully reducing other medical costs due to the better treatment of individuals with sickle cell anemia.

3. Channels: Our customers will be reached through several different channels. Specifically, our patients will receive the test strips from healthcare workers in healthcare facilities. These healthcare workers and facilities will receive the device through on the ground partners, who will deliver the devices. The on the ground partners will receive the devices from a production partner in the US who will produce the test strip. Finally, each of these units will receive money through our funding partners.

4. Customer Relationships: We will have to maintain different relationships with each of our customer segments. For example, we will have to educate NGOs financing the strips and train healthcare workers administering the test.

5. Revenue Streams: Our customers will be paying for the better treatment of the patient populations they are responsible for. Because sickle cell diagnosis is currently symptom-based and unreliable, healthcare facilities have to spend a lot more money on treating patients for the wrong condition (ex. Malaria, which has similar symptoms), and the side-effects of sickle cell anemia which can be prevented through cheap, penicillin prophylaxis treatments (ex. Pneumonia infections). In this way, by paying for the test strips, our customers will also be getting cost-saving value.

6. Cost Structure: The most important costs in our business model are those attributed with making our test strip, distributing it (transport and employees), and outreach (advertising, education, spreading awareness, and pushing for our test to be included as a standard screening device). Our business will be cost driven, with the goal of creating a low-cost device to ensure maximum utilization.

7. Key Partners: Our key partner currently is World Hope International, who will allow us to learn more about the health system and needs in Sierra Leone. Additionally, we have several key suppliers where we get materials for the test strip. In the future, we will have several additional key partners who will be responsible for mass producing the strip and distributing it.

8. Key Activities: Our value proposition requires several key activities, including test strip production, distribution, and education.

9. Key Resources: Our value proposition requires several key resources, including the physical test strip components (nitrocellulose membrane, antibodies, beads, etc), packaging for the test strip, the intellectual design of the test and its possible patent, and the human resources required to distribute and do outreach with the strip.