Fall 2019: Ethical Decision Making Blog Post

While trying to develop a low-cost syringe for the developing world context, you (the designer) hit a cross-roads. Constructing the syringe to auto-disable after a single use, an important safety feature, significantly adds to the cost of the design -making it potentially unaffordable for some hospitals and clinics. However, if you don’t add the safety feature, you are enabling the potential for the spread of disease. How do you as a designer proceed?

When formulating a decision for this ethical dilemma, first the facts need to be determined. The facts of this issue include that if the safety feature is added, the syringe will become more inaccessible and if the safety feature is removed, there will be unsafe outcomes like possibly the spread of diseases. Therefore, the ethical issue lies in whether restricting people to use the product or increasing the risk associated with the product is worse for people.

The designer of course has a right to make this decision, but I feel that if they were to not include the safety feature it must be clearly and openly stated what the product lacks and what risks that this may bring. The people purchasing the items may not be aware of the potential for the spread of disease and therefore something really bad could result. I believe that there is a duty for the designer, who is well informed of all the health risks of not having an auto-disable, to include the auto-disable in the product so that the product itself has the potential to help people, even if not everyone can purchase it. I also strongly believe that if the product does lack the safety feature, the customer and the designer will lose their positive relationship and more importantly there will be a loss of trust. Once this loss of trust in the product is established, word would spread and the product itself will become undesirable to the larger population.

From a financial perspective, the creator of the product would suffer from including the auto-disable because less people would buy it and he would make more money, but from the ethical standpoint, the people and customers would suffer more if the auto-disable was not included. Following the shorthand principle, I could not justify the exclusion of this safety feature because I know that it could bring real harm to people. If it did cause harm and spread disease that would be something that I could not live with. Therefore, if I was the designer, I would proceed with including the auto disable in the product although it may limit the amount of people that can buy it. This would bring the most overall good to the most people. I would follow virtue based thinking and duty based thinking to conclude to add the safety feature.

In addition, there are definitely other routes of getting this product to people that would eliminate the need to worry about cost. These include things like getting the products funded by the government and purchased by clinics, health centers, large corporations, etc. which would administer these syringes for free to the people who need them.

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  • Develop a M&E plan for your project


    1. Clearly list all assumptions
  1. Availability of our ingredients
  2. Costs of products in Sierra Leone
  3. Popularity of sweet potatoes
  4. Willingness of women and mothers to allow their children to eat this food
  5. The assumption that the adults will actually understand the nutritional value and health benefits
  6. Reliable street food market and vendors
  7. Labor pool willing to work for us
  8. Assumption of the daily economy and that people make around $2 a day because that was used to price our muffins
  9. IRB approval and Sierra Leone governmental approval
  10. Access to bakery
  11. Smooth transition to and for the kids
  12. Families will pay the price we’re asking for the cakes



  • Develop a logic model



Inputs Outputs Outcomes Other Impacts
  • Dedication of our time
  • Dedication of staff and advisor time
  • Knowledge base
  • Foundational research
  • Lehigh’s resources
  • Expert opinions and input
  • Lehigh funding, materials, equipment
  • Number of youth served
  • Number of cakes sold in the markets
  • Number of cakes sold to hospitals
  • Healthier children
  • Lower rates of micronutrient deficiencies
  • Lower rates of stunting
  • Lower child mortality rate
  • Self-sustaining venture established
  • Lower rates of cognitive deficits
  • Lower rates of physical deficits
  • Profits of women in the market
  • Days children are going to school
  • Stimulation of the economy



  • Identify short-term and long-term metrics and methods to determine them



We will set up a method with the nurses in Sierra Leone to determine whether or not these cakes are working and increasing the health of the children. There will be measurements being taken and compared to the baseline measurements; kids’ height, weight, arm circumference, fingernail growth, hair growth, eye color, skin pigmentation, cognitive functions, etc.


Also, the economy’s growth and stimulation can be measured as well through tracking how the economy inflated or deflated or how many more people are having jobs and how much more money is being placed back into the economy.



  • Estimate the social return on investment for the project
  • Clearly state all assumptions


  1. If the kids were to take these cakes as directed for a whole year, by the end of the year they will be significantly healthier and happier
  2. Children must continue to eat the cakes once cured in order to remain healthy
  3. $1 makes 20 cakes
  4. 20 cakes can feed 20 children
  5. $1 per day makes 7300 muffins annually
  6. Chronic malnutrition costs the global economy $3.5 trillion for 795 million people, so $4400 per person per year ($88050 for 20 children)
  7. Spending $365 saves $88050, so $1 saves $240


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Two specific funding sources include:

  1. Unicef
    1. A large portion of unicef’s funds go to their “regular resources” which consist of “reach[ing] children who are in the greatest need and at the greatest risk. All UNICEF offices benefit from the allocation of these resources, with the largest share spent on delivering programmes for children and the balance used to support the core structure of the organization – without which we would not be able to deliver on our mandate”. Our project and main goals align with the main goal of Unicef: helping children in need.
  2. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – Grand Challenges Africa
    1. This grant supports innovation to improve global health and development problems. These grants are applicable for a bunch of different countries and there is a separate category for Africa itself. In the past, this award has been given to innovations in maternal health and children’s development. I feel that our product and aim fits well with these other projects that have been funded.

Link to our financial projections:


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Business: Envirofit International

Designed by: Kayla McMillan and Neena Shah


Key Partners Envirofit partners with last mile entrepreneurs, local businesses, and international distributors to scale access to clean cooking technology in both urban and rural markets. They are able to reach a wider variety of people by working closely with and often financing organizations, small businesses, small holder farmers, and women’s groups. Partners are really key to Envirofit as their sustainability comes from their relationships with distributors, dealers, and community or government based organizations.
Key Activities Providing a sustainable, non-damaging method of cooking that inspires better and healthier living. One of the key aspects of these products is their ability to reduce fuel use, toxic emissions, and smoke.
Key Resources Include:

  • Deep network of community partners and dealers
  • Relationships with government organizations
  • State of the art combustion technology
Cost Structure Although the prices of the Envirofit products are not really stated online, their cost structure is kind of cool in that one can either buy the product or become a dealer and distribute the Envirofit products. Costs include the manufacturing, the facilities, advertising, research, distribution, etc.
Value Propositions Envirofit was created with the goal of providing high-quality cookstoves that catered to the needs of individuals living in underdeveloped and third world countries. Envirofit products give people a way to cook their food without using exorbitant amounts of electricity and reducing the amount of smoke and toxic emissions.

The value in their product is cooking with charcoal gas is $1.00/day but cooking with LPG (liquified petroleum gas) costs $0.56/day.

Customer Relationship Helps customers cook smarter, save energy, save money, and reduce their carbon footprint. It improves the daily lives of the customers because they don’t have to clean up the messes.
Channels Envirofit allows people to become dealers of the product which expands the distribution of the products. But also it allows government or community-based organizations to become a partner with Envirofit.
Customer Segments The most important customer are women who are cooking for their families in developing countries. Their products target families who lack access to electricity and clean cooking solutions and desire and will buy high quality products that improve their lives.
Revenue Streams A testimony by a customer states that these devices save her and her family about $6.5. What makes this company so interesting and affordable for these people in developing countries is it gives people in countries such as the United States the ability to buy something known as “Envirofit Carbon Credits” which allows the money to go towards a family in need of a stove. $30 supports one stove.


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Takeaways from video

  1. I thought it was very interesting when he said that one should polarize people when thinking of their product or idea. The product needs to target a specific category of people, otherwise it will be too broad. Perfection a certain group is better than mediocrity for all. For our project, the age group was already assigned to us so this is something we have already been practicing, but it definitely applies when we are tailoring this product to the culture in Sierra Leone children.
  2. The 10/20/30 rule that he discussed was also quite interesting to me. When trying to get information across being brief and direct is the most efficient and clear. Keeping at most 10 slides, presenting in 20 minutes and having the smallest font on a slide 30 pt, allows for the audience to understand a few clearly defined and easy to see points and ideas. This is something that our group can incorporate in our end of the year presentation and in the future with any presentations or deliverables.
  3. His informality and humor within the speech was also crucial to how influential his speech was. The allusions and anecdotes made a lot of what he was referencing relatable. This idea of being able to relate to a person installs trust in them and that can be very important when we are trying to win over the mothers in Sierra Leone.
  4. The mention of “bozos” that one will face along the paths of their products was really important as well. There will always be people who become obstacles and discourage your work. However, being able to recognize these bozos and know that they are irrelevant and incorrect is crucial to success.
  5. Lastly, Guy’s usage of easy to read and understand graphics was very helpful to get his points across. Much of the time these visuals are a better way to understand things than just talking and explaining them. This is something we tried to incorporate onto our Lehigh Expo poster and will be something we make sure to have on our final presentations. In Sierra Leone as well, especially with the language barrier, these visuals may be crucial to explaining our ideas.

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  1. Ten non-obvious assumptions about your target customers (or organizations) that you need to validate.
    1. Their willingness to spend around 20 cents of their $2 a day budget
    2. The popularity of the street food market
    3. Availability of sweet potatoes and likeability of them
    4. Cooperation of local farmers to sell us large amounts of sweet potatoes
    5. The role of mothers and grandmothers is approving what the children eat
    6. Assumption that Sierra Leonean children like a cake texture
    7. Assumption that Sierra Leonean children like a chip texture
    8. Willingness of local restaurants to work with us in the beginning stages of our project in Sierra Leone
    9. We need to validate that they will not over consume the product to the point where the supplements become dangerous
    10. Need to validate that the adults will see the purpose in adding a foreign food into their childrens’ diets
  2. Ten hypotheses about our product that we need to check during fieldwork
    1. Cakes are an easily integrated product in Sierra Leone
    2. Chips are an easily integrated product in Sierra Leone
    3. Our price point of 20 cents is reasonable
    4. There are no other similar products already in the market
    5. Sweet potatoes are available enough to sustain our products
    6. The prices of bulk ingredients given to us by Jawara were accurate
    7. The equipment we have decided we need is accessible in Sierra Leone
    8. The street market is something that we can tap into to sell our product
    9. The street market is very popular and kids have easy access to it
    10. Women will see the nutritional value of our products
  3. I think I bring to my team an overall necessary open-mindedness when looking at our mission and products. Because I have been lucky enough to travel globally to a plethora of places ranging from the slums of India to Paris, I think I bring a unique perspective to the table. I never really seem to shut down an idea but rather think how we can build off of it and go in different directions. Typically I believe most people, especially myself, tend to think of their weaknesses first and foremost when presented with a problem. Last week’s class did a great job of proving how we all have lots of strengths and when one actually takes into account those strengths and works in a way that they can be optimized so much more impact can be made.


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Things that will be done to strengthen our next presentation:

  1. Begin practicing the slides and presentation earlier
  2. Have different people answer different questions
  3. No reading off slides
  4. Be more specific to how we will solve our problem in Makeni itself
  5. Add more of the business plan to the presentation
  6. Have Chris talk less so it’s clear that we all know a lot about the project
  7. Be succinct and straightforward with answering the questions. Do not have long, complicated answers
  8. Make sure to be clear and loud while speaking
  9. Have better transitions between slides and ideas
  10. Make the presentation less of background information and more of our approach to the problem


Our project does require IRB approval because what we want to do on the ground in Makeni is research that will be conducted on humans, specifically children. To begin, we must complete the online training, applications, and communicate the IRB exactly what we plan to do, including details such as if we will use a translator or not. Once we hopefully get the IRB approval, we need to communicate with any local ethics committees in Makeni such as the Sierra Leone Ethics and Scientific Review Committee. This process must begin as soon as possible, because the process may turn out to be lengthy.


Our Logic Model will be centered on developing the cake recipe as well as our other products to best fit the culture, economy, and social factors in Sierra Leone. We have already defined the needs of the situation such as high-nutritious, low cost, culturally appropriate, utilizing local products, and easy to manufacture. The inputs that we have are our time, knowledge base, faculty and expert opinions, some funding, space, partners such as World Hope, and time. Our outputs so far are the cake idea and recipe that we have validated and solidified, the output data from AMPL, and our other potential ideas such as the chips, kokoro, and bar. Lastly, with all the decisions we are making we are considering the output impact that we want. These include the lessening of malnutrition in Sierra Leone children ages 2-5, stimulation of the local economy, long term sustainability and no negative environmental impact (waste).


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  1. My personal design process would start out with a loosely defined list of things I want to accomplish and how those things would be accomplished. For me, a little initial structure is needed however, I tend to have lots of ebb and flow in how my ideas change. So overall, my design process would be to have a lack of rules and guidelines so that I am free to alter and adapt my design which is bound to occur. Therefore, I would not feel restricted to my original ideas or disappointed when the outcome is different. I think this design process is perfect for me because a lot of times when things do not turn out the way I pictured them to I think of it as a failure However, it is essential to remember that things are bound to change and be affected by factors that were not considered.
  2. To validate the various aspects of our project, we have been working closely with not only faculty, but experts on topics such as nutrition, sensory science, and food. We have also been communicating to Jawara who can give us input on what things actually are popular in SL and how accessible and economically viable our ingredients are. In addition to all of this, the CINQ 396 class itself is a method of validation through intense presentations covering the breadth and depth of our ideas. These presentations will be analyzed from a variety of field experts and staff.
  3. My philosophy of engagement is heavily based on connecting and trying to understand the people we are working with: everyone from the customer themselves to the experts giving us feedback. It is crucial to garner trust through equitable, mutual relationships. In the end, it is not really about the product, it’s about the effect the product has on the people and the people themselves. Hopefully these connections and deeper understanding will result in a greater sustainability and easier integration in the diet of Sierra Leone children.


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  1. Nature and its characteristics can be used as the ideal model for any new innovation. Often in coming up with a solution, we focus on a single aspect rather than improving a situation as a whole. Nature teaches us that it is better to optimize rather than maximize, by taking broader, multi-faceted approaches to solve a problem. In addition, this “cradle to cradle” mindset should be dominant when designing a product or idea. This will give the product the ability to adapt to any further challenges, and have a longer “lifespan” and sustainability. Lastly, being resource efficient is something that nature succeeds at time and time again. Having the most impact with the fewest resources used or wasted is critical to a great product.
  2. Nature teaches the need to responsive to a certain environment and adapt to those specific conditions. One must always be aware that the conditions they are living in are not common to all people. People’s life experiences, upbringings, values, ideals, and overall mindsets vary depending on where and what they come from. In life, one must equip themselves with the experiences and confidence to tackle any obstacle that is in their especially in new and different environments. This is especially true with the work we are doing where are product must succeed in an environment much different than the ones present in the US. Things in Sierra Leone like the emphasis on family, the woman hierarchy, the daily economy, deep rooted food culture, and lack of infrastructure are all factors our product needs to account for and be able to adapt to.
  3. To implement the Cradle to Cradle Design into our project, we are attempting to make the product something very easy to integrate into Sierra Leone culture and everyday and therefore, elongate its effects and sustainability. We are changing our product from a muffin shape to a cake because of the popularity of cakes in Sierra Leone. We will be selling our product through the street market industry to maximize children’s exposure to the product itself. This semester, we will really be focusing on how to reduce waste from the product, especially in terms of limiting the materials used to package. The majority of the ingredients in our cakes will be local food crops such as sweet potato, banana, nuts, cocoa, etc. and therefore we will hope to stimulate the local economy and increase appeal because the product is made with familiar foods to the locals of Sierra Leone.
  4. When I was informed by a friend that the median annual household income worldwide was around $10,000 I was extremely shocked. Being that that isn’t even ⅙ of my college tuition, I was shocked to see how differently people live and how different money is viewed globally. Another thing that was shared with me as a child that I remember finding so alien was that in many countries, younger people greet their elders or respected ones by a bow or other sign of respect. Lastly, I’ve always been lucky enough to have a good education, but when I found out that 1 in 4 America children grow up without learning to read I was shocked. The idea of not being able to read seemed incredibly alien to me.


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This week’s class encompassed ways to portray our products in the best light, through presentation and communication skills. Perfecting these skills will encourage more belief in our idea and consequently more stakeholders willing to support the project.

Because our project is so new, there are not many stakeholders in the monetary sense, however, there are stakeholders who have and will invest time and resources to the project. As of now, the stakeholders in our project include Lehigh University, the farmers of Sierra Leone, the street vendors, the importers of vitamin supplements, and World Hope. Each of these stakeholders support our project for various different reasons but must all come together to make the project a success. To begin, Lehigh University has interest in our project mainly because of the mission to provide positive impact in one of the most malnourished nations in the world. Additionally, Lehigh believes in experiential learning for its students and wants to allow students every opportunity to learn on a real-life basis. Next, the farmers of Sierra Leone will be stakeholders in our project. A majority of the ingredients will be provided by these farmers and therefore their success will depend to an extent on the success of our muffins. In addition, like the farmers, the importers will have a stake in our product as we are buying vitamin supplements from them. Lastly, World Hope will investing lots of their time and knowledge to help aid our products when we are actually on the ground in Sierra Leone. Their mission all together is to inspire positive change by “working with vulnerable and exploited communities to alleviate poverty, suffering, and injustice.” Projects like ours have the same motivations and therefore World Hope is willing to invest resources in our muffins.

However, we are hoping to gain more stakeholders and that can be achieved through strengthening our credibility. As discussed greatly in last class, credibility through others and data is key to persuading people why your product will be the answer to an issue. To achieve this, we are planning to put our muffins through a lot more tests of quality and appeal. These would include things like taste tests by children and shelf life testing. In addition, we will reach out to more professionals to achieve feedback and strengthen our product. For example, we will be coordinating with a sensory analyst in an attempt to maximize how attractive our product is to the senses of a 2-5 year old. We will also continue to talk with the nutritionist as we determine how to add supplements to our products in the best way. We will talk to the experienced teams who have been on the ground in Sierra Leone and understand how we can learn from their experiences. We also hope to coordinate with more people on the ground so that we can maximize the two weeks on the ground and accomplish all the goals we want to. Lastly, through the CINQ 396 class, our product presentations will be reviewed by lots of experts who will provide blunt criticism and insight, further developing the product with greater credibility.

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