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.

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