Low Income Household consumer research in rural Kenya

By | January 4, 2012

Roadside clothing shop, somewhere between Emali and Wote, Kenya Nov 2011

In a couple of weeks, I’ll be starting a whole new set of fieldwork in rural Kenya.  This time we’re doing something closer to the better known applications of our human centered design approach for increasing our understanding of people. It will be among rural ‘BoP’ households on behalf of a consumer product that’s retailed in leading supermarkets. While our previous client project allowed us to delve deeply into a topic that interests us both – mobiles, internets and cyber cafes – I’m looking forward to the opportunity being made available to me to finally be able to do something approaching the ‘prepaid economy project‘ from two years ago.

That is, I’ll have the chance to find out how those on irregular income streams manage their household finances and share this openly on the blog. Since it is also a rural location, it maps on almost exactly to the criteria of the previous locations in The Philippines and in India thus permitting an excellent opportunity for contrast and comparison. What’s exciting me however is that this will be in Kenya, home of the mPesa mobile money transfer system, and I want to see if it will be mentioned by any of the respondents in their answers to the same set of questions I’d used previously.

That is, without any mention of it from my side, I want to see if MPesa has made any difference to the way rural folk deal with emergencies or planned expenses or any other aspect of their daily life.  If there’s anything of note, my hope is to be able to write a comparitive paper on it and extend the findings from the previous research. Of course, our current client will also receive what they have asked us to find out for them – its just that its all under an NDA.

This series will be categorized under the Project category titled “Prepaid Kenya series” and I’ll be using “prepaidkenya” as a tag to all relevant posts, if you’d like to follow along.

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