Blog Post 7

List ten non-obvious assumptions about your target customers (or organizations) that you need to validate.

  1. The prices we have gotten from contacts in Sierra Leone are accurate
  2. Children are not eating other micronutrient focused supplements
  3. We can get ingredients in bulk
  4. Parents and their children can access street vendors
  5. A bakery will be willing to partner with us to produce cakes
  6. Parents are willing to spend money on nutritious food
  7. The price of our product is appropriate for the market
  8. Children like the taste of sweet potatoes
  9. We can scale up and produce enough cakes per day
  10. We will be able to dry the sweet potatoes and turn it into flour in order to preserve it during the seasons that it does not grow

List ten hypotheses about your project that you need to test during fieldwork.

  1. The street markets are the best place to sell the cakes
  2. The street vendors will want to sell the cakes
  3. The cakes will improve the levels of micronutrients in the children
  4. Children above age 5 will eat the cakes too
  5. The chocolate frosting will intrigue children
  6. Sweet potatoes will be easily accessible
  7. The cakes will increase the street vendor’s profits
  8. The business will eventually be self-sustainable
  9. “Cake” is the best word to call our product
  10. This type of product is culturally appropriate

What do you think you bring to your team? How has your perception of your own strengths and weaknesses changed over the course of the class? Please be specific.

I believe that I bring a sense of reality and organization to the team. We have spent a long time brainstorming different ideas to address malnutrition in children ages 2-5 and have come up with a variety of ideas. There are pros and cons of each idea, but eventually we needed to move past the brainstorming stage and into real development of 2 or 3 key products so that we can make the most effective use of our time in Sierra Leone. I have helped the group narrow down our ideas to the sweet potato cake and the raw sweet potato sticks and now we are able to focus on these products. It was hard to give up ideas that people have worked hard on and that have clear advantages, but it has to be done so we can progress.

With a large range of tasks, I also believe that organization is important. We have to prioritize the things that are due first, and figure out a good order to do things in in order to be the most efficient and effective in developing our products. I believe that I have helped my group to prioritize our tasks to get the most important and urgent things done first.

In the session with Dr. Dzomback, I also learned about some of my weaknesses that I didn’t know I had. She pointed out that anybody can learn anything, and I think this is a really important take away for me. My whole team is bioengineers and I am an economics student. I haven’t taken a science class at Lehigh and don’t know anything about vitamin A degradation or different micronutrients or the chemistry principles behind what we are doing. However, I haven’t taken the time to learn them either. I have just decided that I don’t know these things, but I know other things, so I won’t focus on that part of the project. I now understand that this is the wrong approach and am going to take an active role in trying to familiarize myself with the scientific aspects of the project so I can perform at my full potential.

Blog 6

Ten things I would do for the next presentation

  1. I didn’t present this time but I will present in the next presentation. I will practice my part several times so that I am prepared.
  2. I will make sure that our presentation is cohesive. There was some conflicting information in the presentation because of miscommunication between group members
  3. We will have a little bit more of a business plan for next time
  4. We will develop more FAQs that people could possibly ask
  5. We will include less background information and get right into the venture itself
  6. We will try to pack more data into the presentation instead of just including it in the backup slides
  7. I will try to be more confident when answering the questions
  8. I will try to make better eye contact when speaking
  9. I will try to answer more of the questions
  10. We will try to get everybody to speak

Does your work require IRB approvals? If yes articulate your IRB strategy.

Our work requires IRB approvals. We need IRB approval because our work requires human subjects and research. We have created a sweet potato cake and are now creating other products, and we will want to give them to children to taste test. Also, we will give them to children to decrease the rate of malnutrition. We will be using interventions and interaction with these children. Our project involves minimal risk – the children eating the cakes are not doing anything out of the ordinary that is much different from their daily lives. The only potential harm is consuming too many because then the child would be overdosing on vitamins, and we have been discussing this at length to reduce this risk. Our research group is a vulnerable population because they are minors so we will have to get parental consent because the children ages 2-5 can not provide consent themselves. This is also important to Sierra Leonean culture because of the importance of the mother and her opinion. We will include the fact that we are working with vulnerable populations in our IRB proposal. There is an International Ethics Review Board in Sierra Leone and we will have to get a verbal approval from them in order to do our work. They will not sign a paper but will verbally “okay” it. I believe that our project might be exempt, but if it is not exempt, it will be expedited. There is no reason for a full review by the entire IRB.

Develop a logic model.

Situation: Hidden hunger is killing children in Sierra Leone. The damage that micronutrient deficiencies cause is reversible between ages 2 and 5.

Priorities: We want to provide Sierra Leonean children with a nutritional supplement that will reduce malnutrition rates and improve health.

Inputs: business and engineering knowledge, planning time, money


We will reach bakeries to partner with, nutritionists, food scientists, children, and mothers.

We will develop a nutritional supplement (sweet potato cake) to children ages 2-5 that will include all of their required daily nutrients.

We will educate staff in the facility and women selling the cakes in the market.
We will create a product, a business plan, and a community network.


We will create knowledge about the importance of micronutrients and skills in baking the muffin.

We will give children access to a food that will improve their nutrition and thus their overall health.

We will reduce the rate of malnutrition and improve child and adult health.