Category Archives: UCSD

How the African movable assets bill can unleash innovation opportunities for the rural economy

As Kenya joins Zambia and Zimbabwe in ratifying a Movable Property Security Rights Act, there’s a sense that the floodgates to innovation in access to finance might be taking place in rural Africa, south of the Sahara and north of South Africa. Kenya’s law also goes beyond the cows and goats and allows a borrower […]

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It’s way past the time to consider the Informal Economy as a distinct commercial environment

Regardless of continent, it is now high time we accepted the informal economy (unformal or unrecognised or unorganized sectors) as a commercial operating environment in its own right. The continued oversight is rapidly coalescing into a gaping void of hiccups and failures, by large companies, non profit institutions, and startups, alike. This issue goes far […]

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The importance of user agency for good design in the humanitarian and development context

This is a topic that has come up so often on Twitter that I thought to write it out once and for all. A link would be ever so much easier to argue with than to make the case for recognizing the agency of the end user – whether an intended customer or beneficiary – […]

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As global firms (MNC) pull back from emerging markets, what does this mean for Africa?

Last week’s issue of The Economist drilled down deeper to cover the retreat of globalization – at least in the most visible form, that of the multinational brands dotting cityscapes around the world. The retreat of the global company, they trumpet, the end of Theodore Levitt’s vision. Credit Suisse takes a concise yet comprehensive look […]

Also posted in Africa, African Consumer Market, Analysis, Business Models, China, Compétitivité, Consommateurs, Consumer Behaviour, Culture, East African Community, Economy, Emerging Markets, global, India, Innovation Planning, Marchés africains, Marketing, Perspective, Produits de grande consommation (FMCG), Retail in Africa, Strategy, Sub Saharan Africa, urban, Value | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

A Precursor for Systems Design and Social Change from Finland

Sitra, the Finnish innovation fund, has released an excellent analysis and work plan for systemic change at scale – how to change the national mindset to become a society focused on sustainability and wellbeing. I remember noting Finland’s leadership in systems design and strategic planning back in 2007 during our Cox Europe Mission to observe […]

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Innovation, Ingenuity and Opportunity under Conditions of Scarcity (Download PDF)

In July 2009, I was inspired by working in the Research wing of the Aalto University’s Design Factory in Espoo, Finland, to launch a group blog called REculture: Exploring the post-consumption economy of repair, reuse, repurpose and recycle by informal businesses at the Base of the Pyramid*. Within a year, this research interest evolved into […]

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Does the human-centered design industry believe in it’s own process?

Listening to users, and incorporating their feedback is considered the key differentiator for the practice of human-centered design. Yet, one wonders, if the design industry has understood that this philosophy must necessarily include the feedback from their clients as well. That is, while we are all aware of the navel gazing tendencies displayed by design […]

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5 examples of the breadth of African led human-centered design and thinking and planning

The other day I was searching for news on design from the African continent and noted on Twitter that it seemed as though only the South Africans were consistently talking about their various creative outputs. Having long been part of the crowd that believed in the indigenous creativity and innovation in the less visible parts […]

Also posted in Africa, Design, Fashionomics, Innovation Planning, Kenya, South Africa, Sub Saharan Africa, User research, Value | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

People-centered systems design thinking out loud

This morning I was pondering the complexity involved in weaving together four separate threads of ‘innovation’ into one holistic system. They were not unrelated to each other, and the end users are more or less the same for each, but each is also a standalone solution to a pain point in an ecosystem. I was […]

Also posted in Biashara Economics, Design, Ecosystem, Emerging Markets, Indigenous & Traditional, Informal & Flexible, Innovation Planning, Perspective, Prepaid Economy & Informal Sector, Rural Economy, Strategy, Sub Saharan Africa, Systems, Technology, Value | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

There’s more to informal trade than meets the eye

This photograph captures the way micro entrepreneurs in the informal economy perceive their business. There is more here than meets the eye at the first instance. Note the green logo of the Kenyan mobile money transfer system M-Pesa in the background of the cash transfer taking place, by hand, in the foreground. The customer is […]

Also posted in Africa, African Consumer Market, Alternative currency, Assumption filter, Business, Consumer Behaviour, Flexibility, Informal & Flexible, Kenya, Mama Biashara, Marketing, Prepaid Economy & Informal Sector, Research, Retail in Africa, User research | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment