In order to create a design that is uniquely my own and effective, it’s first important to consider the user needs. If there is a need for any type of product, it means that something is missing from the market. There are many ways to go about determining these needs. In my entrepreneurship class, we went through the process for potato peelers. We tested a few different peelers, identified what we liked and didn’t like about them, and used that feedback to identify the needs of a potato peeler. Professor Heiss explained a similar process for an ice cream scooper. The biggest question I have had in the past few weeks speaks to this as well. We have found and researched many different micronutrient treatments, like Bennimix. At first, we thought Bennimix was so ingrained into the culture of Sierra Leone; they call almost all porridges Bennimix, similar to how we call tissues, Kleenex. In reality, Bennimix does not reach as many people as they would like, and they have a surplus of product that they are unable to sell. This may depend on price, access, taste, or really any different reason, but we’re kind of unsure at this point. Our first recipe was a porridge that could served by mixing with boiling water, but we needed to differentiate that porridge from Bennimix. To ensure that we create a product that is uniquely our own, we can’t copy something that’s already out there. We can identify a gap in the market and work from there.
We are continuing to work on our recipe. Like Professor Heiss explained, our design process has been full of reworking and reinventing recipes. We started by identifying what micronutrient treatments were already out there and tried to create our first recipes based on them. By reworking our product and being unafraid in our design choices, we are ensuring that we will choose a design that meets all the needs of our customer- something that is affordable, meets all the nutrient requirements, tastes good, is marketable, and is culturally accepted. We have continuously checked on the validity of our recipes with contacts in Sierra Leone and nutritionists. For example, we described our pudding recipe to our contact at World Hope International, and while he thought the recipe was great and could be integrated in Sierra Leone, he urged us to use sweet potatoes because they are so widely used and highly nutritious in vitamin A. It’s important for us to ask good questions and accept critique in order to improve our product.
On Tuesday, Dr. Sarah Stanlick’s conversation about working with people working in Sierra Leone made me think. She stressed that we would need the ability to listen, be humble, and be culturally aware for the success with our project. It’s important for us to realize that no matter how much research we have done, we don’t know everything about the culture and habits of people in Sierra Leone, so it’s okay to ask questions. We also discussed our engagement with communities with Khanjan on Monday of this week. At this point, it’s difficult to know exactly what we will be doing during fieldwork, but we’re hoping to have a product that people can maybe try.