GSIF Post #10 Rohan Ekambaram

A source of funding that we as a group have been looking into is crowdfunding. We are using sites that allow people to donate money to ventures like ours in order to better the world. There are multiple platforms to do this like Gofundme and Kickstarter. We have been looking into sources like Indigogo that have much more reputable people donating. At this point we are looking to find money anywhere since the grants that we usually dip into have already given money over the years. We are also making a video to encompass the goal of our project that would be put on these crowdfunding sites. The website that one of our members has been working on will also, in part, help our venture. If people are able to read and understand more of what we are doing then our venture can really take off. This is a double edged sword of funding though. If a project does not develop any following and does not rise in popularity on the site, less people will donate, but if it does then the people donating will exponentially grow. It is not the first choice to base the success of our venture off popularity, but when funding is needed this is what has to be done.

Another place that could be applied to is Global Social Venture Competition. This is a program that awards money to those who are developing technologies for social ventures across the world. This would be an extremely good source of funding. Not only does this program award large sums of money, up to $80,000,  the exposure from the contest would encourage more to give. This combined with the crowdfunding platform would allow for an enormous amount of funding. This group also has a wide spreading reach of connections world wide. They have done work in Africa, Asia, Europe, the US, Latin America, and Australia. Although this might be getting ahead of the what we are doing, but having those international connections early in the process would give us a leg up when we are expanding to more places than just Sierra Leone. The values that the group possess also firmly line up with the values of the GSIF program. They are firmly set on making useful and creative impact all around the world in order to better the lives of those who have it less fortunate than us. This is exactly what the GSIF program sets out to do with our ventures, which means this partnership could be fruitful for both sides.

This picture is the financial model of the Ukweli Test Strip team’s future ventures. It shows what has been done in the past along with what we aim to do in the future. As you can see in the picture, the growth of Ukweli is not large until we really get some traction with the people of Sierra Leone. It should also be noted that we do not break even with our own overhead, but with the funding received we do. We are not aiming to make a profit but we are trying to put all the money we receive towards our important venture.

There are some assumptions that go along with this model. We are assuming that by the end of this summer at the latest, the marketing license will be accepted by the Sierra Leone government and ministry of health. This is important because without the actual approval of these governing bodies, we will not be able to sell our product to those who need it. This will not drastically change the flow of the financial model though, it would only push it back to the time that we have achieved the license. The other assumption is that the radio program and work of mouth marketing strategy take. Both of these are intended to inform people about the symptoms of a urinary tract infection. With this educational material being spread, hopefully people will be able to recognize the signs and go to their local CHW or buy the strip themselves. Another assumption that we are making involves quality control. By the time our strips are widely used, we assume that there will be a system in place in order to alert those using the strips if something has gone wrong. This would be whether or not the strips have been tampered with or exposed to harsh elements. This is important because we want those using our strips to be able to trust the result of the screening device.

GSIF Post #9


Key Partners:

Farmer network – help provide supplies

Trunk companies – rent 100s of 10-ton trucks to deliver supplies to rural areas

Rural Field Officers (for every 200 farmers) – provide training every two weeks

Key Activities:
Delivering resources within walking distance of each farmer

Training farmers to use seed/fertilizer properly

Storage of produce

Market economy training

(Offer crop storage solutions and tech about market fluctuations to maximize crop sales)

Value Proposition:

To aid farmers in improving their harvest (by providing knowledge and supplies) so that they can pull themselves out of poverty, and eradicate poverty and hunger in their communities.

When farmers become more productive they climb out of poverty, feed their communities and reduce environmental land pressure.

Customers Relationships:

Currently serving ~800,000 farmers

Plan to serve (2020) ~1 million farm families with more than 5 million people in those families

Produce enough food to feed another 5 million

Customer Segments:

Farmers in Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi

Farmers families

Neighbors/ communities – people in these developing countries

Key Resources:


Donors (companies, non profits, government)

Rural Field Officers

Truck Drivers – Truck renting companies


Hands on/face to face contact through delivery service of supplies and trainings by rural field officers every two weeks

Pursuing collaboration with government and private sector to broaden reach

Cost Structures:

Farming supplies

Rural Field Officers

Warehouses where supplies are stored and delivery of these supplies to the farmers

Resume Streams:

Asset-based loans (covers 75% of costs)

  • Farmers pay little by little over time for the supplies they provide (covers most costs)

Outside funding – donations

  • Stock
  • Corporate
  • Grants: USAID


GSIF Post #8 Rohan Ekambaram

There were many important takeaways from Guy Kawasaki’s video. One of them was that you should always hire better than yourself. I thought this was a very important idea about management since I had always thought that one should hire at the same level as themselves, but Kawasaki made a lot of good points. Another takeaway was that when starting a venture the most important thing is to try to make change with the product not just to make money. He stated that he has seen much more come from a project when it is centered on making a difference for people. Another interesting point that Kawasaki made was that you cannot please everyone with a product. If there is a demographic of people who like the product, work with them to improve the product since they are the ones that are going to buy the product. You might not be able to hit every single person with your product but you can find the niche that your product fits into. Another idea that Kawasaki presented was the 10/20/30 rule. This outlines how a presentation should be given. The 10 represents 10 slides because you want to keep the presentation short and concise, otherwise the people listening might lose interest. The 20 represents 20 minutes. The presentation should not be larger than 20 minutes. This also falls along the lines of keeping the interest of those you are presenting for. The 30 represents the font size of the words in the presentation. Keeping the font size above 30 serves a couple purposes. For example, most people will not be able to read with a lot of ease most font sizes smaller than that. The second reason is that you do not want to just read off the presentation while giving it. Using a large font forces you to learn the information instead of just putting it on a slide because there is no entertaining way to present information that people can get if they read the slide behind you. I thought a very interesting point that he made was about the mission statement. A lot of companies have a long winded mission statement that does not say anything unique about their company. Kawasaki said that the best thing to do was have a mantra instead. Three or four words that outline the short simple goal that your company wants to achieve. I thought this was interesting and valid since you do not want to confuse you investors by hitting them with a paragraph of large words you found in a thesaurus, you want the message to be clear and concise. Another takeaway that I thought was interesting was the idea that ideas that were abandoned by others can be extremely useful. His point was that you should not listen to the “bozos” of the industry and follow what you believe could be the next revolution. His examples were about the cellphone and his work in Apple. In both cases a good idea was dismissed earlier by someone and then later on the advancement went on to change the industry in a revolutionary way.

Our main business plan for this venture is to make a product that can be sold for a very low price. We plan to sell our strips to the community health workers of Sierra Leone so that they can sell them to people. This is important because we want to empower the community health workers to help out the community and make sure that everyone is living a safe and healthy life. We are also putting money into hiring people that can teach the new community health workers while we are out of country. There is also a  person is also in charge of delivering the UTI test strips out to the community health clinics. He is paid less than the first one but, that is because the first person has a much more important job of selling and teaching the community health workers. A large portion of this money must come from grant money from different charitable operations like world hope and the Gates foundation. All of these organizations have given us money for this venture because in order to sell the test strip for such a small amount of money and make no profit we need to be able to front the overhead costs. Obviously some of the money goes to the manufacturers who make the test strip so that we can sell it to the community health workers. We try our best to keep everything as clean cut as possible.