Jack and the Four Hats

In class this week we discussed grassroots diplomacy. One topic that stood out to me was the concept of saving face. This basically means that an individual is trying to lessen the social or political burden that he or she may have faced. Obviously, that did not make sense. Here is an example: In Sierra Leone, we had several issues working with the Health Projects Director of World Hope International. Instead of calling him out and compromising our relationship, we copied his boss on the email! This saved face on both sides. We were able to accomplish our goals while maintaining a friendly relationship with this individual.

This week we focused on a case study around these topics and ethical decision making. Here is the prompt below. I am going to follow the same steps as last week’s blog post.

Step 1: What are the facts and what decision needs to be made?

  • Jack is American
  • Kids are in charge of handing out gifts
  • The staff have not acknowledged the problem, they think it’s a “trivial” matter
  • The 4 kids who received hats are angry at Jack
  • Jack wants the kids to like/trust him
  • Jack will be in Kenya for 5 months
  • Jack works at a youth center working on a social venture
  • The kids think the gifts were from Jack because he was assigned to give them out
  • There weren’t enough gifts for all of the kids
  • The staff members want Jack to solve the “problem”
  • All the gifts were labeled and assigned to the kids

Step 2: Problem and Stakeholders

We know that Jack is an American that is working at a youth center. It can be assumed that he is a volunteer. There are several issues at play here. First, the donor sent gifts for the children but four of them did not receive them as ceremoniously as the other kids. For this reason, they are upset at Jack and he because Jack is working there for five months, he does not want his experience to be made difficult. Second, Jack is both personally and professionally invested in his work at the youth center evidenced by his concern that the children were upset at him and that he was not sure how to proceed with his colleges. Third, Jack’s superiors do not want jack to be a “child rights activist” here and tarnish the reputation of the youth center. They do not see this issue as a problem.

The larger issue at hand is whether or not Jack should do anything about this issue. On one hand, if he does take matters into his own hands he will be looked down upon by his superiors while the kids will be happy. On the other hand, if he does nothing, the kids will be upset while his superiors will continue to think that there is nothing wrong.

I think it is interesting that in both cases, jack wants to “save face” as much as possible. How might he reduce social and political losses? This issue is extremely important to two stakeholders: Jack and the children who received the gifts unceremoniously; this can affect Jack’s ability to perform his job effectively in the next five months.

Step 3: Who are all the key players in this situation and what are their personal and professional motivations?

  1. Jack:
    1. Professional: Jack wants to have a great relationship with the kids that he is working with every day. He is there for five months so he wants to reduce the amount of strife he is faced with each day. Jack wants to also have a good relationship with the staff at the youth center. It is important to him that he is able to effectively do his job without creating a problem within the organization
    2. Personal: Jack feels that he is at the center of the issues that are arising. In the kid’s eyes, he is to blame and in the youth center’s eyes, he is a potential risk. He wants to deescalate the issue before it gets any larger. Jack also wants to be a good person. In his eyes, the children deserve some sort of compensation.
  2. Youth Center:
    1. Professional: They are used to the way things are. They do not see a need for any change to be done. They also blame Jack for creating a larger issue out of nothing and are concerned that he would tarnish the image of the youth center in the long term.
    2. Personal: The youth center did not have any obvious personal motivations other than not creating unnecessary drama.
  3. Children who did not receive their gifts ceremoniously:
    1. Professional: The children do not have any obvious professional motivations. Their main issue is that they wanted to be given the gifts ceremoniously. It did not matter what the gifts were, just the way they were given.
    2. Personal: The children felt wronged by Jack specifically.

Step 4: What are some solutions that could be done? What are the short/long term implications and how does it affect the stakeholder’s relationships?

Solution 1:

  • Using a utilitarian lens, Jack should not do anything at all. Jack has already given these kids hats and if he did anything else, it would show favoritism towards those kids. In this situation, we are trying to maximize the amount of utility or happiness in the long term. The children will forget about not receiving the gift ceremoniously and jack avoids any trouble he may have gotten in while being a whistleblower for a non-issue. Jack will face hardships for the next week with the kids because they will be mad at him. However, that does not outweigh the fact that Jack is also saving face with the youth center staff. He is still looked at favorable by the staff and does not cause any excess issue. In the long term, all stakeholders are happy and Jack should have a positive relationship will all parties at hand. In addition, no extra resources were used in this solution including time which is beneficial both in the short term and long term.

Solution 2

  • Using a deontology lens, Jack should go out of his way to purchase gifts to give to the children and hold a ceremony to deliver these gifts to the four kids who got hats. The children who previously felt left now feel included. This solution has a complex variety of issues at play. First, while the children who got hats originally feel happy the other who did not receive an extra gift may feel bad because they did not get something extra. Second, Jack is using his own time and money to get these gifts and would likely have to disrupt the operations of the youth center to do another ceremony. Third, Jack saves face with the kids who got the new gifts because they trust and appreciate him. He loses face with the staff because he took time out of the already scheduled day to do this and may have created an issue with the other kids at the center. In the short term, the children and Jack are happy while the center is upset at Jack. In the long term, this problem will likely happen again and Jack set himself up for going out and buying more gifts. He also compromised his relationship with the center staff as they did not think this was an issue.

Solution 3

  • Using an absolutism lens, Jack gives the other kids who did not receive gifts leadership roles in the youth center. This makes the kids feel good about Jack and they would not view Jack as badly as before. In this situation, Jack saves face with all parties involved by not escalating the situation with the staff and appeasing the children. The issue with this case is that he does not solve the issue at all. He puts forth more energy to appease the kids with no guarantee that they will be responsive to his efforts. In addition, he may create a sense of mistrust between all children and the staff there.

Step 5: Seek outside help: My group asked Khanjan what he would do and he said that the Utilitarian approach would be the best. We spoke about the need for Jack to understand his role and cultural norms. While he loses some face with the four kids in the short term the other two solutions create precedents that could be maleficent in the long term.

Step 6: Solution 1 is the way to go: Solution 1 provides the most effective solution when understanding cultural practices. In this case, Jack saves face with the staff who are ultimately most important to Jack in the long term. Unfortunately, Jack will have to face strife between these four kids in the short term, they will eventually get over it. It is important to not as seen in my fieldwork experience that there is significant donor fatigue in this space. Sometimes there may be gifts to hand out, sometimes there may not be enough (or any at all). The youth center staff understand this, and Jack does not understand it. By doing nothing he reduces the risk to the children by not building up their expectations in the future and solidifying his relationship with the center staff.

 

Step 7: Actionable steps: For this solution, Jack does nothing. There are no clear steps other than carrying out his normal day to day tasks.

 

Lesotho Water- Ethical Decision Making

Greetings loyal blog readers! Hi Mom…. This week as promised, I am going to be discussing a special case study we talked about in the GSIF Seminar. We talked about ethical decision-making strategies and specific steps to take when analyzing cases such as the one below.

Let’s break this down!

Step 1: Determine the facts in the situation– For this step it is extremely important to not only state the facts, but to do so without bias. This helps to make a clear and specific argument about (1) what the ethical issue is and (2) what the information is being used to make a judgment decision.

Facts from the statement above

  1. 10 researchers there for 2 weeks.
  2. publications expected as a deliverable for this study.
  3. The people are there for academic research.
  4. Community members not being paid.
  5. They are looking for a water borne pathogen that is could be found in either main water sources or water storage/collection tanks.
  6. There are multiple places to get water sources
  7. There multiple methods of collection/storage in Lesotho
  8. Another goal for this research is to gather the information needed to create a solution that will clean the water through chemical additives

It is also important to do some background research on the topic—How else can we make an informed decision?

  1. Lesotho is a small country located within the highland region of South Africa.
  2. The highland region is where most of the Southern African countries get their water
    1. This is probably why this research is so important
  3. The World Health Organization has been working on this for the last 60 years. This has been a huge issue in the past and is still a reoccurring problem
  4. The water-borne pathogen as described by the World Health Organization is due to coliforms and E. coli.
    1. If this is the case then it is highly likely that people know their water is “bad” these water-borne pathogens cause cholera and diarrhea.
  5. This research is not actually human subjects research according to IRB it should be exempt.
    1. There is no aspect of this research that includes humans other than asking for directions to a specific location for the water source.
    2. One tricky situation is that if a researcher would want to go into someone’s house and see where they store their water or test it. As long as they are not interviewing the people then there is no human subject research and therefore, it is exempt.
  6. The government is structured similar to that of Sierra Leone or Uganda such that there is a Village, Township, District, and National Government.

Now that we have established the facts both in the prompt and though research what is the ethical issue here?

The researchers want to study the water from locations in and around several communities within the country of Lesotho but they do not know where these sources are. Obviously, the community members do know this information. The researchers expect the community members to take them to the water sources and that is it, end of transaction. The issue here is that (1) should the research even be conducted and (2) if it is conducted should the researchers pay the community members compensation for their help?

I want to make a clear emphasis on what we are doing here. We are NOT re-designing this research. We are simply offering a solution to these two questions through stepwise decision making. This was a confusion in class as we often found ourselves saying things like “if they just did the research this way there would be no issue”.

 

Step 2: Define the stakeholders/Step 3: Assess the motivations of the stakeholders.

Stakeholder Primary Motive Secondary Motive
1.      Community Members The health and wellbeing of the individual/community Livestock
2.      Government Health and wellbeing of the population Political capital, economic growth, votes
3.      Researchers A desire for success, reach funding goals, personal goals for the project Potentially being played a stipend for the research, resume credit.
4.     Research Funders Quality publications, Impact through understanding what the problem is Quality Data and wanting to “make a change”
5.      Industry Money Long term business

 

So, there are 5 different types of stakeholders but again, I need to make something clear. Everyone and everything are a stakeholder in this case because it is dealing with WATER! [if you are an IDEAS major you get what I am saying].

Step 4: Formulate an alternative solution- For this step, I chose to analyze this case through the utilitarian lenses where one tries to maximize utility or overall happiness of the populace.

  • I believe that the researchers should conduct their project however in order to appease all stakeholders while collecting quality data they should pay the community members
    1. Researchers will go to the national, regional, district, and local government to seek approval.
    2. Subsequently, the researchers will need to meet with the chiefdom leaders
      • In this meeting, they should explain what they will be doing and ask for a select group of people that would be willing to work with them.
    3. Once they have this group of locals the new team will go to the various water storage facilities and natural sources to conduct their tests.
    4. The researchers should pay each person he or she works with as a compensation. This amount should be negotiated with the chiefdom leader and should be an hourly rate.
    5. Finally, the researchers should send a copy of their findings to the government and community members.
  • On two, four, and five is where the utilitarian approach occurs and answers the question. For step two it is critical that the researchers engage with this stakeholder in order to get the appropriate approvals. In addition, chiefdom leaders are elected officials and their decisions will likely be looked at favorably by the community. Number four articulates that the people who are physically interacting with the researchers should be played. This is critical because they would lose income if they did not get compensated. Number five describes continuity and shows to the community that there was some sort of follow-up to the research.
  • Pros to this approach:
    1. The researchers conduct their project and get local support when doing it.
    2. The community members are happy because they have received compensation (if they were interacted with.
    3. The community members are also happy to see the follow-up on the study because this means that someone is working to help with their water situation.
    4. The government is happy because their name would be attributed to helping their community and they would look more favorably in the next election.
  • Cons to this approach:
    1. We do not actually know whether or not the research findings will be quality.
    2. We do not know if the people will be happy or if the chemical company will actually help them.
    3. Happiness is extremely difficult to quantify so how can one maximize it?

Step 5: additional assistance as appropriate: For this step, we talked in class about the Hippocratic oath, the engineering code of ethics. Both of which say “do no harm”. We also talked through various options weighing the pros and cons of each. I believe that my option would be the best using utilitarian thinking.

Step 6: Select the best course of action: In class, we typically come up with three different options. As you know from reading step 4 my option includes (1) doing the research, (2) paying the community, and (3) great involvement with the community.

 

Reflections on Fieldwork

I am back stateside and school is in session! This is the start of the third part of my GSIF Journey. Back at school, we are taking the seminar and I cannot wait for the puzzles, case studies, and just getting to work with other teams. Before we dive into this semester let us reflect a bit on fieldwork.

The top three things I learned during my GSIF trip this summer?

  1. One year can drastically change a developing country socially, economically, and enviornmentally.
  2. Supposed Failures can become new opportunities- “backups on backups”.
  3. Leadership is not so much about control as it is more about finding a ballence in your team.

For the first point, I travled to Sierra Leone last summer and returned this past summer for Ukweli Test Strips. Last year things were quite different. The exchange rate was something around 1USD:7600SLL. There was little construction happening. The CHW system was also funded by World Hope International. So what changed? 1) Inflation, there one dollar gives me about 9500 Leones. Inflation occurs more slowly in the States and I was shocked to see that it grew exponentially within the past year. Socially, the CHW system was changed as WHI no longer supports them. Through interviews, I discovered that the national government is adopting the program. Finally, there was so much construction on the roads. Sierra Leone is a quickly changing place and I wonder what it would look like in five years!

To the second point, we did not launch. Our marketing license did not go through. So what do we do? What can we do? We turned this supposed failure into a new opportunity, hiring Hassan to be our messaging employee to “create a demand” for Ukweli.

The last point was especially important for my team and me. Leadership is not always about who is the loudest, the first to say something, or the person doing all of the work. Working as a team requires the individual people to work like gears- interlocked and turning in sync. For example, on Ukweli we have a person for Con-Ops, Marketing/Messaging, Quality Control, Administration/Finance, and obtaining our license. If we did not have this fieldwork would have been a disaster.

How did fieldwork facilitate professional development?

  1. Working with negative attitudes.
  2. Seperating the personal from the professional.
  3. Responsibility is tough but rewarding.

One of my biggest challenges during fieldwork was working with negative people. (forgive me this might sound pretty hippy-esc) If you come in with negative energy and hold it close then all you will be giving to others is negative energy. I firmly believe that if you go into a situation with conviction and optimism then you are more inclined to see opportunities for success, no matter how crappy the present seems to be. This first point ties closely with the second as I want to be friends with my team but it is extremely hard when you are with them 24/7 and the professional/social environments become so mixed. Finally Responsibility. This time around I was tasked with managing the logistics for the fieldwork. This was no easy task and people really did not like me for a while. Looking back on it I started hating the extra responsibilities that I had but now I am so glad that I had them. These kinds of opportunities allow me to gain more unique skills, learn more, and do more. I will definitely jump on these kinds of odd jobs in the future.

How did I grow personally? 

  1. You cannot be friends with everyone.
  2. Curb your expectations
  3. Realization that this is what I want to do with my life!!!

Okay, so it is no secret that there were 24+ unique people on this trip. At first, I thought how nice it would be if we were all buddy-buddy and got stuff done while being close friends. The reality is that we all come to fieldwork with unique backgrounds and attitudes that sometimes do not align with my own. This does not mean that because of that I cannot be social with them. I just do not get along with them. That is fine. As long as we can help each other get stuff done in a meaningful and productive way, I think we will all be happy. Finally, I realized sometime during fieldwork that this is my calling. I work well in lower resource settings where its all about quick thinking, pivoting and results-driven work.

 

That’s all for now. Stay tuned, next week I will be writing about a special case study!

Blog Post 11

Monitoring and Evaluation Framework—Ukweli Test Strips

Goal

Outcomes

Output

Indicator

Reduction in the maternal mortality of Sierra Leone.  Number women who are screened positive for Urinary Tract Infections and/or Preeclampsia Women are empowered to take charge of the healthcare of themselves and their neonate. They stop doing nothing when symptoms emerge.

Definition

Over a longer period of time i.e. 5 years, there is a reduction in the reported number of women dying due to pregnancy Records kept by CHWs and PHUs that are translated to the Ukweli Employees—the no. of people screened and their health outcomes  Track how many times women got screened or were referred somewhere else to get screened. Shows initiative to actually do something

Baseline

1,360 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births Information is not available Gabi’s study

Target

1,300 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births Approximately 90% of the Bombali district screened by the 3rd year of operation. A noticeable increase in women who come to doctors to get screened / talk about their health in regards to UTI / Pree

Data Source

Publications from Sierra Leone Pharmacy Control Board/ Ministry of Health or publications from the World Health Organization Records kept by the CHWs and PHUs that are communicated to the Ukweli employee Utilize records made up by Ukweli of how many women are screened

Frequency

Unfortunately, the frequency of the data is subject to the publications of the MOHS, PCB, and WHO. These publications will likely occur once every 5-10 years Monthly This could be monitored pretty frequently to get an idea of the change in attitude

Responsible

Ukweli employees are responsible for the monitoring and the data collection of the venture.  See data source.—Ukweli Employees The health workers who are administering the strips/talking to patients about their symptoms/referring

Reporting

Statistics will be reported to the Sierra Leonean Government and external global health programs Outcomes are to be reported to WHI, MOHS, and funding partners.  This output would be reported to World Hope, the Ukweli Team, and possibly government organizations

Key Assumptions

  • Venture launches in August of 2019
  • Messaging, Advertisement, Employee Accountability frameworks are set up such that operations run smoothly.
  • Test strip is accurate and can withstand the conditions brought about in Sierra Leone.
  • People will see the value in this product and will actually purchase strips. 
  • Women will go to a clinic after being referred.

Logic Model

Inputs Activities Outputs Outcomes Goal Alignment
-Funding

-Partnerships with OEM /  WHI

-Ukweli Team

-Delivery of test strips to PHU

-Training of the CHWs

-Screening of Community Members

-No. of women screened

-No. of women that screened pos.

-No. of women referred to clinics

-Better health outcomes for mother and neonate

-Reduction in the maternal mortality

100%

The Social Return on Investment for Ukweli

The social return on investment as I understand it is how the community and/or key stakeholders benefit from Ukweli’s operations. The most direct outcome of Ukweli is an improvement of the health outcomes associated with mothers and neonates. Outside of this very specific sphere, there are other social returns that may be analyzed. The first is the number of children that survive i.e. higher birth rate—this can be measured through the number of children in school. Another social return could be the amount of capital that these families have. For example, if a family has more capital than they would likely have more livestock and therefore not spending excess capital on health expenses that could have been prevented. Another social return could be capacity building due to preeclampsia screening. To clarify, Sierra Leone may not have the capacity to treat preeclampsia right now, however with this venture we can document a clear need and the government can direct funds to support preeclampsia care

 

Blog Post 10

Sources of Funding For Ukweli

Crowdfunding Platform High Stake, Large Scale Grants
Like all up and coming ventures, crowdfunding plays an integral role in the startup process. This method leverages our friends, families, and connections to contribute to our fundraising efforts.

Our team has also created a crowdfunding video as a way to further enhance our efforts. The video showcases the general synopsis of the venture from the problem statement, to our proposed solution.

Here is a link! https://www.lehighcrowdfunding.com/campaigns/ukweli-test-strips

Moreover, our partner World Hope International in Sierra Leone has agreed to match our donations up to $6,000.00. This funding is dependent on the funding that we receive from the crowdfunding campaign.

Larger scale grants are on the horizon for Ukweli. This upcoming year we will be focusing on applying for and procuring high stake grants such as Saving Lives @ Birth through the Gates Foundation, USAID grants, and Grand Challenges grants.

We are looking at grants that call for interventions focused in promoting pregnant mother and neonate health outcomes. The SL@B grant for example, focuses on these venerable populaces living in rural and hard to reach areas around the world. We are looking for grants to help support our particularly high overhead costs and cost of goods sold. These grants will help us go from the validation stage of our venture to the transition to scale stage.

 

Income Statement

 

The first three years after it has official launched as a venture in Sierra Leone. As you can see, we are expecting large increases in sales each year for the first three years, but all of the costs associated with the venture increase as well, leading to the losses in total income increasing. Although these losses may be concerning, it is not unusual for this to happen to non-profit and social ventures when assessing income just based o of sales.One of the assumptions that was made in the creation of the income statement for the sales account is that the messaging and advertising for the venture is effective, and awareness of Ukweli and its services increases and spreads to other parts of Sierra Leone outside of the Bombali District that the venture is currently focusing on. With awareness of the venture growing, more women will know the importance of getting screened for UTIs and Preeclampsia, which will therefore mean more boxes of strips will be sold, which obviously would create more revenue for our venture. The assumption that the current mindset of doing nothing regarding UTI and Preeclampsia signs and symptoms will change during the time can also tie into the idea of sales increasing. Even if the workers on the ground follow protocol in advertising the strips, if people don’t change their attitude about not doing anything if they experience symptoms that could be related to UTIs and Preeclampsia, then the strips would not sell as well as we would hope.

Some other assumptions we have made that relate to the cost of goods sold account is that the rate we are getting for the test strips will continue to be roughly the same. This would most likely be the case if we continue to work with our current Original Equipment Manufacturer, WangCheng, so that is something we factored in.

We also assume that the overhead for the venture will continue to be high. From what Ukweli has observed, the overhead is very high for the venture, and we did not anticipate for those rates to decrease when the income statement was created.

 

Blog Post 9

Business Model Canvas: Envirofit

With the collaboration of fellow GSIFs Jaro and Chris, we have tried to recreate the business model canvas around the company Envirofit International. Envirofit is a social enterprise that develops “smart energy products and services” 
Key Partners Partners that the company works with to provide funding and bolster their revenue streams. It is likely that there are some partners that are not open to public knowledge. Here are some examples of partners:
  • One Acre Fund
  • OPIC
  • Shell Foundation
  • UKAID
  • GIZ
Key Activities
  • Providing affordable alternatives to normal wood burning stove 
    • Wood burning compartment below a stove to conserve on heat wasted. 
  • Lanterns and Flashlights
    • This company has developed hand crank flashlights and solar power lanterns. These technologies empower those who do not have reliable and consistent electricity to produce their own electricity. It saves energy, time, and money. 
Key Resources
  • Metal Producers—Stove components and electronics 
  • Wires, casing, circuit boards
  • Plastic casings
  • Internal parts for all products. 
  • Shipping Supplies- (perhaps things to put into boxes that the products come in)
Value Proposition
  • UKAID and other development agencies- Electricity and efficient cooking capabilities will lower the burden on people who do live in less developed countries. It also provides opportunities to less advantaged people that they may not have had before. 
  • Community members or end users- This company empowers individuals to save more money, resources, and time. In particular, end users will see the biggest relief through the reduction of biomass used in everyday cooking. 
Customer Relationships & Marketing Strategies
  • Envirofit is able to create strong customer relationships through its robust marketing strategies. This company leverages the uniqueness of the product in that it does not produce much smoke and the community centric nature of its customers. This company relies on the community interactions of women cooking and networks of women such that they share knowledge and explain to each other the benefits of this product. 
    • This is extremely important because as the company grows, they create very dedicated customers that will encourage the growth of this company. 
Distribution Channels
  • They are typically through their partners such as UKaid. These partners typically pays for the deliveries of stoves and flashlights across much of its catchment area. 
  • There are several ways people can get this product. People can become a distributor for the stoves, groups of people can sign to become distributors in their community. This strategy links the company with the community through their distributors. 
Customer Segments 
  • Two main characteristics
    • Those who cannot afford the price of gas or fuel 
    • Those who can afford gas and fuel 
  • Both types of people benefit from this in similar ways however for those who cannot afford gas, this is more of an investment. For those who can afford gas, this product empowers them to save time and money rather than paying for gas which may not be efficient. 
Cost Structure
  • Without the use of inexpensive manufacturing this product would not be feasible. In addition, this company relies heavily on aid agencies to cover cost of goods sold. 
Revenue Streams
  • For this company revenue comes from aid agencies and the purchasing of the products. In addition, revenue may come from people who are living in developing countries who have a vested interest in environmentally friendly cooking. 
Resources 
  • https://envirot.org/ distribution/#quotes-from-ourpartners
  • https://www.trails.com/facts_ 6417_crank-ashlight-work.html
  • https://www.ukaiddirect.org/ about/fund-priorities/
  • https://envirot.org/distribution/
  • https://envirot.org/ourstory/#our-story

Guy Kawasaki Blog Post 8

 

  1. For Ukweli, it is imperative that we find employees and advocates for this venture are infected with the Ukweli dream. Guy Kawasaki discussed the topic of finding soulmates and hire infected people to make any project or venture succeed.
  2. I really liked the way Guy talked about money. He said “that’s my money in your purse” it is the business’s job to get that money! So, how does Ukweli do that? This is reliant on how we encourage demand through sensitization, marketing, and Ukweli Health Worker training.
  3. MAT (Milestones, Assumptions, and Tasks) are extremely important to consider in our venture. We continually have a problem of working on some aspects of our venture that are not the most important in the long term. This is a bold statement. Yes, all aspects are important for our venture, but some are drastically more important than others. For example, coordinating and developing radio programs are great, but they serve no purpose unless UHWs actually have Test Strips
  4. MAT (Milestones, Assumptions, and Tasks) Since we are not in country at the moment many of our plans are built on assumptions and this could make or break our venture. Tasks tie assumptions with milestones- We plan to test our assumptions in country in order to refine our operations. This translates to the big milestone of Ukweli’s official launch date!
  5. Something that will make or break our venture is the idea from the first retreat. One of the comics portrayed someone selling a lamp to a community member. The community member was more willing to spend 50 cents a day for 50 days rather than spending 20 Dollars right now. This speaks to the culture and the variability of disposable income. Guy’s mantra’s of Think differently and don’t be afraid to polarize people. Resonates with is both insightful and challenging as we navigate through this challenge. I believe that this will result in UHWs pooling their money to purchase test strip bottles

 

A Quick Blog post

  • List ten non-obvious assumptions about your target customers (or organizations) that you need to validate.
    • Community Health Workers who serve in a specific catchment area all report to the clinic in that catchment area
    • Community Health Workers all have some sort of disposable income or capital to afford a test strip bottle (100 strips vs 50 strips)
    • Community Health Workers will provide some sort of documentation to a pregnant mother if her pregnancy is high risk (preeclampsia)
    • Peripheral Health Units have the capabilities to treat/manage births that are high risk
    • Community Health Clinics with the 12 parameter strips will not purchase our test strips because they do not need them.
    • Community Health Workers listen to the radio.
    • Peripheral Health Units are willing to have partnerships with Ukweli Test Strips via World Hope International
    • Community Health Workers are willing to work with our employee.
    • Peripheral Health Units document cases of UTIs and Pre-eclampsia accurately.
    • Peer Supervisors are willing to pay for a test strip bottle
    • Community Health Workers document the health status of the community members they serve and follow up.
  • List ten hypotheses about your project that you need to test during fieldwork.
    • If Mother Support Groups are given sensitization protocols for UTIs and Preeclampsia they will generate demand for Ukweli
    • Given proper instructions and training, Community health workers will be able to pass the certification test to use our test strips
    • Given that we have 100 strips in the bottle instead of 50, CHWs will still purchase bottles.
    • If Ukweli becomes steady state, World Hope would adopt this venture.
    • Marketing protocol for our various stakeholders vary by season and time of day
    • If we introduce our bottles as is, CHWs will know how to properly maintain the quality of the test.
    • If strips are quickly submerged in a urine stream, they will still read an accurate result.
    • Test strips with both the UTI and Preeclampsia assays will deteriorate at similar rates under similar conditions.
    • Word of mouth advertising will be much more effective than any other form of advertising.
    • If all aspects of the operation are designed before we travel, once we leave Sierra Leone Ukweli will be able to operate on its own.
  • 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
    • Best Strength I bring to Ukweli: I have a background in Engineering and Arts and Sciences. I ride the line between technical interpretation and critical thinking.  This allows me to be flexible and receptive to members, key players, and stakeholders in this venture.  I use this strength to challenge and encourage my team to push themselves. This has changed throughout the semester because I have grown in confidence and have become more of an outspoken member of my team

Week 5

To start this blog post today I thought I would begin with giving a huge shoutout to my big brother and my mom for reading my posts every week. Someday if I write a biography, I will be sure to mention you! Anyway, let us get down to business, this week we continued the discussion on the concept of design and introduced a new idea: philosophy of engagement.

I do not know if you caught it but last week, but I mentioned that I was going to do some soul searching on how cyclic processes are apparent in my life. After this week’s talk, I realized I have my own process of design. For me, design is much like the function f(x)= sin(x). The sin function is cyclic in nature and you could say it has its ups and downs. Jokes aside, a design is grounded in the idea of spectacular failure and success. Suppose I was to design a medical device. First, I would do background research then I would ask a simple how might I statement. For example: How might I make intravenous drugs more comfortable for a patient? Through this process, I would go through several designs and think hard about what my constraints are. The ideation process occurs here. I further explore my ideas using sketches and electronic design platforms. If one seems particularly good, I might prototype it and test it out. See the diagram below:

An interesting concept came up in our Ukweli team meeting this week. Our Mentor Khanjan Mehta posed two challenging questions: the first was how do we establish credibility in our venture. The second is how do we validate our technology, business model, and overall project concept. These questions go hand in hand in the process of venture creation. To establish credibility, one easy way would be to identify key partners supporting our efforts. In addition, we could also publish peer-reviewed journal articles on the venture’s efforts, or get endorsements from key stakeholders in the community. On a similar thread, how does one validate their project? We as project or venture creators have both an ethical obligation and sometimes legal obligation to validate the different aspects of our venture. The key here is to do the leg work internally. Let’s look at three general categories: project concept, technology, and business model. To validate the project concept, one needs to do intensive research into the need for a specific good, service, etc. For Ukweli, extensive research found 40% of pregnant women in Sierra Leone contract Urinary Tract Infections and the Community Health Worker system aims to address challenges in last mile distribution. We have identified the problem and a potential avenue to address it. Moreover, the research found that there was a clear lack of accessible low-cost screening technologies in Sierra Leone. On the next idea, technology, we must look specifically at the quality control, error margins, and affordability aspects. To simply validate the technology could mean doing quality control testing. However, validating to see if the technology is culturally appropriate must include the other aspects as previously mentioned. Finally, how could venture creators such as my team validate the business model? The business model relies heavily on background research, cultural context, and determining key assumptions. The business model for Ukweli could not have been completed without us going to Sierra Leone and thoroughly understanding the healthcare system, each stakeholder and their value proposition, and cultural aspects that affect operations.

In the last portion of this blog post, I wanted to talk about my philosophy of engagement with community members, partners, and markets. I truly believe that if one wants to make an impact in the developing world there are no handouts. Our team mentor always says: “Don’t give a handout, offer a hand up.” This means rather than engaging in pure aid, try creating self-sustaining ventures that empower community members to have more opportunities. I realize this is broad. What I mean is that aid is like a band-aid it works if there is a disaster- helps in the short term, not sustainable in the long term. Empowerment, on the other hand, gives the community members the chance to live more equitable and prospers lives.

That’s all the insights I have for this week, I am looking forward to reading up on why ventures fail for next week. Hopefully, there is no snow. Till next time.

Week 4

Hello World!

Eastern Pennsylvania seems to really not want GSIF class to happen; as seen by the snow on Tuesdays exclusively. Global Social Impact, however, does not stop for the weather! This week we reviewed several resources on topics including biomimicry and cradle to cradle manufacturing, design. Through this week’s blog post, I hope to answer and respond to several ideas that would have been talked about in class.

The first idea that I want to talk about is the idea of nature. Nature inspires and motivates me in life and urges me to design better. Moreover, nature can serve as a model and mentor in every aspect of life. Take Entropy for example. Entropy is the constant movement towards disorder or chaos. From the ocean constantly churning solutes throughout its vast body to organizing every thread that goes into the concept of operations for Ukweli, entropy is constant. As a mentor, nature teaches me the concept of Strong as One. In short, this means that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Take carbon for example. By itself, it is subjected to both ionic and covalent attractions; however, a carbon lattice is the hardest and one of the strongest substances on planet earth. Diamonds baby! Another way nature influences my life is as symbols of unity and integration of divergent ecosystems. You may think this is a stretch but – I am a Salmon! Much like salmons thrive in estuaries, I live on the intellectual line between Arts & Sciences and Engineering.


Later, through the readings we received and in the ideas embedded within Life’s Principles, I am curious how one specific principle relates to both my life and project. The principle of Being Locally Attuned and Responsive encompasses the idea of fostering cooperative relationships between people and the Earth in order to embrace constant improvement:

Be Locally Attuned and Responsive
Ukweli My Life
Leverage Cyclic Processes – Our venture aims to seamlessly integrate into the already working community health worker network. The same rules apply to UTI screening as does Malaria. There are limitations to the CHW capabilities. We are keeping it consistent. -Not sure, I’ll do some soul searching.
Use Readily Available Materials and Energy – Utilization of Common Tests that could be replicated

-This is a potential area of improvement I am curious what type of plastic should be used.

-I am not sure how I can integrate this into my life other than recycling.
Use Feedback Loops This is yet another area that I want to explore with the Ukweli team. How can we utilize feedback loops in our venture?

– Perhaps there is a feedback loop in the cycle of Sensitization ~> Screening ~> Diagnosis ~> Treatment ~> Sensitization.

-I readily use Feedback loops as I am constantly trying to become a better professional and overall quality human.

-Another aspect of this is how I choose to look at problems and how I choose to react. If I learn to better understand how I react to certain situations, I can better handle them making a “Negative Feedback Loop”.

Cultivate Cooperative Relationships – Foundation in working with several key stakeholders in order to run the venture. -Working as a team is not something that has come naturally to me. I have had to practice this, and now I can say that my best work comes from working with my peers!

This idea using readily available materials and energy is related to the concept of cradle to cradle design. This concept is based on the fact that all products have life cycles. For Ukweli, my vision for a cradle to cradle design would include a biodegradable test strip that contains three parameters with common assays that contain harmless chemicals that decompose easily. In addition, this product should have a small half-life of decomposition to deter negative effects on the environment

This week, I learned that impact starts with personal reflection. Who are you? What do you want to do? Why? I realize that the pathway to effective design solutions may not always be the sexiest or innovative; however, they are deeply rooted in the way we approach problems. We often overlook the most practical models for design in the quest for the most appealing technology when the solution might be right in front of us. On a more light-hearted note, I was asked to blog about some interesting things my friends taught me that was completely unknown to me. The first is camping. As funny as it sounds, I have never camped before coming to Lehigh. My friend Teddy took me on a camping trip my freshman year and I learned to make fire! Alek, one of my good friends since the start of Lehigh, taught me about the concept of cloud seeding. He is an environmental engineer and he spoke about how people can actually cause rain by the process of cloud seeding. Finally, a more recent example is during fieldwork in Sierra Leone this past summer. Rachel, a civil engineer and friend, was tasked with constructing a dark greenhouse to grow mushrooms. I definitely did not expect to be learning how to grow shrooms or build a grow house!